Beginners or someone looking to get into hunting often asks, “What is saddle hunting?” In short, saddle hunting is a type of deer hunting done from an elevated point, i.e, a tree using a rope saddle to climb and hang.
You might be searching for the first time. However, it is not a new concept. I have been practicing it for about 30 years now. Usually, it becomes famous repeatedly when hunting season approaches.
Saddle hunting offers a myriad of benefits over other options like tree stand hunting or ground blind hunting. It makes you more mobile and help you win multiple trophies, each season by hunting public properties, state wide.
What Is Saddle Hunting?
Saddle hunting is basically the use of saddles as seats while hanging on tree to hunt deer. It is around since 80’s and is common because it offers more concealment, mobility on tree, and ease of climbing while getting out of the sight of deer.
It uses different attachment ropes and hunting saddle gears that provide support and easy traction while aiming for prey. Furthermore, they are lightweight and easy to move and carry around from one tree to the next as needed.
Hunting From A Tree Saddle – Different Types
Over time, there has been innovation in the designs of sling saddle hunting. Each design has been a better version of the one before. Today, we have different types of tree hunting saddles that hunters commonly use.
1. Single Panel: These are simplest in design and are the oldest form of tree sling hunting, providing ease while taking down trophies.
2. Double Panel: The two panels provide more support and comfort to the hunter. The inner panel is fixed to support the hips. In contrast, the outer panel provides support to the body, distributing weight for easier traction and maneuverability for rifle or bow hunting.
3. Pleated Saddles: This is essentially the single panel design, which supports the hunter via an expansion chamber, increasing the size to provide more comfort. They have two configurations: pleat open and pleat closed. Though these are more comfortable single panel saddles, they lack being compact.
Carrying tree saddle necessities and accessories appropriately using best saddle hunting backpack is crucial.
4. Eberhart Signature Saddle (ESS): This saddle comes with several panels loops for ropes. It is also adjustable. ESS is sold commercially as ESS Kit by Tethrd.
Why Prefer Saddle Hunting Setup Over Tree Stand Or Ground Blind?
One of the benefits of saddle hunting is it requires minimum tools (and weight). Unlike other hunting setups like hunting blind and tree stand, they often require ATVs to drag to the property. This makes it comparatively more portable.
Saddle hunting also lets you remain as mobile as possible without binding you to a specific location. The setup is fairly quick, and once you go through it, it will become effortless.
Most importantly, the saddle keeps you away from deer’s line of sight and camouflage in tree branches and leaves. You just need to hide your scent and remain as noiseless as possible to avoid scaring the big bucks away.
Although saddle hunting is complex for beginners, it has a load of benefits, like concealment with portability. You won’t find much portability in tree stands or ground blinds. Similarly, you will have a vantage point to spot and scout game animals, which ground blinds don’t offer.
Lastly, you are much more mobile in saddle setup and don’t need to carry extra weight for a run and gun style public land hunt.
Gears For A Complete Saddle Hunting Set Up
For saddle hunting, you need the following basic tools.
- Saddle With Bridge: The saddle is an important part of this procedure. You can use single or double panel saddles that are lined with bridge and D rings.
- Lineman Belt: It is used during climbing so that you stay attached to the tree throughout. A Lineman belt in hunting provides support and ease during climbing.
- Tether Rope: After climbing, this rope supports your weight so that you can hunt without worrying about falling.
- Carabiners Or Clips: These support any added gear that you might need during your hunt. These are also used to clip the ropes with trees and support you.
- Saddle Hunting Platform: During hunt, the platform provides support to your feet so that you can stand comfortably. A saddle platform can handle weight like a tree stand and can be carries easily. It is more portable and does not need assembly.
- Knee Pads Or Knee Cushion For Knee Safety: During saddle hunting, your knees might get sore from climbing or staying on the tree for a long in sitting position. Therefore, knee pads are used to protect from abrasions or any soreness.
- Back Band/Recliner For Back Comfort: While hanging on saddle for hunting, a back band provides support to your hip and lower back. It allows you to lean in and rest your back while waiting for deer to come around. This also protects you from using excessive back muscles and straining them during hunts. However, you can make this one at home for a DIY sit drag saddle.
You can also use other accessories like gear strap (to hang rangefinder, grunt call, bow release etc.), bow or gun holder (check legality in your state), gear bag/pouch (hold whatever you have in pocket i.e. cell phone, release) and ascender (to replace prusik knot, ropeman ascender is my personal favourite).
How To Saddle Hunt?
Tree saddle setup takes almost same time as setting up a tree stand. However, there is a learning curve. But if you practice it on a tree a few times, it become a whole lot easier.
Depending on experience, saddle setup takes 15-20 minutes. It involves wearing saddle on ground, setting up tether, climbing up using sticks, and setting up platform.
You just need to harness yourself to the tree, climb up, and then tether to the tree, balancing yourself. However, you can use the following tips as saddle hunting for beginners.
- First, harness yourself with the tree and climb up using the lineman belt setup.
- Once you reach desired height, tether your saddle with the tree using tether rope. This will support you and your weight.
- Balance yourself and adjust the bridge for comfortability and easy manoeuvrability.
- Support your feet on the saddle hunting platform for effective support and comfort. If you’re still wondering, is saddle hunting comfortable? read sling stand hunting hacks.
What Are The Benefits of Using A Saddle Hunting System?
Saddle hunting provides bundles of advantages over tree stands and ground blinds. Its simple design & portability gives a vantage point in public lands. This feature makes it preferable over other, which require more time and effort to set up.
The following are the benefits that climbing saddle hunt provides:
- Lightweight And Portability
As discussed before, saddle hunting is a more mobile way of hunting on public lands. Unlike other alternatives, it is portable. Thus making it easy to carry and move around. Their lightweight features make them easy to run and gun as they require little assembly and packing, a perfect mobile hunting setup.
- Almost Noiseless Design
During hunt, the noiseless setup is a crucial factor that every hunter considers before buying, and the saddle provides little to no noise as there are little clips and D rings.
- Safety To Hunters
Hunting while hanging on high can be dangerous. However, saddle hunting provides safety and security. With its tethered rope, D rings, and carabiners, it distributes the weight, supports the hunter, and provides a comfortable experience.
- Concealment And Manoeuvrability
One of the best things that saddle hunting offers is concealment. Concealment allows the hunter from the sight of game animals and offers ease in maneuvering the weapon to hunt them down.
- All Around Degree Shooting Mobility
In hunting, ease of movement is important, and saddle hunting fulfills this criterion by offering 360 degree shooting ability and weapon maneuverability with relative ease. With your weight distributed and feet stead on the platform, all you need to focus on is hunting your prey and collecting your trophy. This allows perfect feasibility as archery saddle hunting.
To sum it up, saddle hunting is basically the use of saddles and rope to hunt game animals during hunting season. Its lightweight and easy portability make it superior to the other hunting alternatives as it allows easy area scout and avoidance of direct animal sight.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to use a saddle tree stand?
A tree stand is separate from saddle hunting. Saddle hunting comprises a saddle, harness, lineman rope, tether rope, and platform. Using these, a hunter climbs up the tree and gains height, and is ready to aim while being concealed.
Is saddle hunting safe?
The commercially available hunting sadles are safest as they act as safety harness too. They are not only mobile, and portable but also let you scout, the area and hide behind tree branches making them best for public lands.