It is no secret that saddle hunting has gained popularity over the last couple of years. Especially used among public land hunters, the tree saddle just makes sense when you’re hiking in a mile or more to get away from the pressure of other hunters. Over the last several years, I have seen a large increase in both my successes and encounters with whitetails while hunting from a saddle.
Obviously, the main components of your gear as a saddle hunter are your actual saddle, platform, and the climbing method you use to get to hunting height. There are many options on the market as far as saddle manufacturers. I use a saddle from Tethrd, but there are plenty of other manufacturers out there doing a great job.
For the purpose of this blog, I’m going to talk less about these things, and more about the smaller pieces of gear that every saddle hunter can benefit from regardless of saddle brand. I reached out to several veteran saddle hunters and they gave me a list of some great gear that would be beneficial to the outdoorsman who is looking to expand their horizon into the world of saddle hunting.
By far this was the most popular piece of gear among the saddle hunters I talked with. The Ropeman 1 from Wild Country is a mechanical prusik that makes it easier to adjust the length of your tether and your lineman belt.
Long-time saddle hunter Matthew Cotoia says that he appreciates the fact that you can make these adjustments one handed while keeping your other hand freed up in the tree.
If you’ve ever used a traditional prusik knot, you know that, while it’s dependable, it can sometimes be a pain to adjust, especially when wet. The Ropeman 1 not only eases the adjustment, it’s also very safe and dependable. A 10 – 13 mm rope is what is recommended for use with the Ropeman 1, so make sure you have the right size and you’ll be good to go. The Ropeman Ascender sells for $44.95.
With a traditional tree stand, the hunter is primarily faced away from the tree. While saddle hunting, the hunter is faced towards the tree. I believe this is one of the advantages because you are able to keep the tree between you and the deer. While this is an advantage, there are some adjustments that need to be made to keep you comfortable.
A good set of knee pads works wonders for the comfort level of a saddle hunter to keep you from having to rest your bare knee against the bark of a tree. Don’t believe me? Just go outside and rest your knee on some bark for a few seconds. Now imagine doing it for hours!
A wise man once said, “Buy once, cry once.” Carl Kossuth of Tethrd would agree, as he recommends the Tethrd Knee Pads that ring up at $69. “They are extremely light weight, ultra flexible, not bulky, and are quiet against the tree. The Tethrd pads allow you to maneuver into infinite positions that a fixed pad just won’t allow.”
After the Ropeman 1, a good gear hanger was the most recommended piece of equipment among the hunters I talked to. Most public land hunting areas have rules for screw-in bow/gear hangers, or really anything that punctures the tree. For this reason, many saddle hunters have opted to use a strap style hanger that goes all the way around the tree.
I use mine for absolutely everything! I have a hook for my bow, quiver, rangefinder, backpack…everything!
The Tethrd HYS Strap is the ultimate public-land-legal gear hanger. You can hang it. You can girth hitch it. You can T-Hook it. You can wrap it around a tree trunk. You can wrap it around a branch. Whatever works for you.
The HYS Strap is made of high strength, mildew and rot resistant polyester that enables you to hang your stuff in whatever way makes sense to you. You can put some stuff around the back side of the tree, some on the left, and some on the right. You can easily move your gear and position it wherever it makes sense for your style of hunting.
The HYS is designed to be paired with the Hero Clip for the ultimate in convenience and security for your equipment. The HYS Strap sells for $24.99.
Back Band / Recliner
If there’s one thing that I make sure I have in the saddle, it’s my back band. The word “game-changer” gets thrown around a lot, but this thing can make or break an all-day rut sit. Like a lot of saddle hunting gear, there are plenty of DIY options for a back band. But if you’re looking for a slick and simple option, check out the Tethrd Recliner.
At only 4 ounces, you’d be hard pressed to find something this important to your setup, but also so light that you forget it’s there. The Recliner rolls up to about the size of a tennis ball and is easily connected to your carabiner. It sells for $29.99.
Saddle hunting is, in my opinion, the most fun way to hunt. I would choose it over a treestand every day. While it’s fun and effective, it can also seem like a daunting thing to get in to. There are so many small pieces of gear that play a part in the system. Sometimes it’s just an information overload.
Ultimately you just have to commit to doing it and everything else will just fall into place as you learn more and more. For the best information, check out the many groups, pages, and channels on social media designed specifically for the saddle hunting community. There you’ll find saddle hunters from all over the globe who love to help new guys get started.