Arguably one of the hottest trends in the hunting industry, saddle hunting has taken the market by storm. However, I was surprised to learn that the “newest” way to hunt isn’t actually new at all. The Green family came up with the idea in the early 60’s, and eventually came out with the TrophyLine brand in the 80’s. So technically this method isn’t new, but is it worth all of the hype? This season I have switched completely over to hunting from my saddle, so here are my thoughts so far.
Why A Saddle?
One of the first questions one might have when looking into a hunting saddle is “Why?”. Well, there are actually several great reasons why a hunter should look into one.
Weight is a huge one for anybody that plans on packing way back into the woods. You may be hunting public land that can’t be accessed by a vehicle, or you just have that one spot on your farm that you can’t get back to without a hike. If that’s the case, you more than likely don’t want to carry a heavy and awkward hang-on stand, or even a climber. The saddle itself weighs practically nothing, and you can wear it on your walk in. So the only thing you have to carry is your bow, platform, and your climbing sticks.
Another problem a saddle can solve is getting all the way back into an area and not being able to find a tree to hang a stand in. I have hung in trees no bigger around than my thigh, and I’ve also hung in trees bigger around than my entire body! Not only does a saddle give you the ability to hunt trees of any size, but also allows you to hunt trees that aren’t perfectly straight. Since you are tied to the tree, it doesn’t matter if there is a lean one direction or the other.
Probably my favorite advantage to saddle hunting is not feeling stuck hunting one tree. With my hang-on stands in the past, I didn’t want to move it once I’d already put all of that work in to hang it. Now, if I think the tree 50 yards away looks better, I can climb down and get in the new tree in no time. I also don’t have to worry about someone stealing my stand on my public land spots, because everything is able to go in and out with me every time I hunt.
What You Need To Get Started
Although it may seem complicated when trying to figure out what you need to get into saddle hunting, it really is fairly simple.
First and most importantly, you’re going to need a saddle (Duh!). The saddle I decided to go with is the Phantom saddle by Tethrd. As far as rope goes, you need what is called a lineman’s belt, and a tether. The lineman’s belt is what you will have around the tree as you are ascending and descending. This allows you to free up both hands to hang your steps and platform on the way up, and take them down when you climb down. The tether is what you will use once you are up on your platform. It goes around the tree above your head and holds you while you hunt.
When it comes to hardware, I personally use two “ropeman” ascenders. I have one on my tether, and one on my lineman’s belt. The ascenders are extremely helpful, as they make adjusting both ropes quick and easy while still keeping me safe. Along with the ascenders you will need at least two carabiners that are rated for climbing.
You will also need a platform. A saddle hunting platform is much smaller than your typical hang on stand platform, so they are typically much lighter.
Last, but certainly not least, you will need some climbing sticks. There are tons of different manufacturers making them, and the biggest difference between the most expensive and the least expensive is going to be the weight. I don’t get too caught up in the weight of the sticks I use because of how light my setup already is compared to my hang-on stands.
There are definitely more accessories that I did not include, but if someone wants to get their feet wet saddle hunting, those are the bare minimum things one should purchase in my opinion.
Go Give It A Try
I know it’s different, and probably not what you are used to. I get it, I was in those very same shoes. If you know someone that is into saddle hunting, ask them if you can try it out. The style of hunting that I do is very “run and gun”, so I was a believer after one hunt. You never know until you try, and if you ask me, I say give saddle hunting a shot.
To shop the saddle hunting gear I use, visit: https://tethrdnation.com/