Are you a new saddle hunter? Or are you just simply lurking for some valuable saddle hunting tips?
Well, regardless of who you are, this post is just for you. In this post, we’re diving headfirst into a collection of wisdom and advice straight from seasoned saddle hunters who’ve spent countless hours perfecting their craft in the treetops.
We’ve covered everything you need for an enjoyable hunt. But of course, we’re not forgetting the all-important safety considerations because, as we all know, a safe hunt is a successful hunt!
So get your pen and paper because this will be one heck of a list of saddle-hunting tips!
Table of Contents
Why Saddle Hunting?
Saddle hunting is an exciting alternative to the traditional tree stand hunting that many outdoors enthusiasts have grown to love.
Picture this: instead of perching on a bulky platform high up in a tree, you’re smoothly gliding up and down the trunk, feeling more connected with nature and your prey. It’s just you, your gear, and the wilderness.
But what many hunters truly love about saddle hunting is the skill it requires. It’s a challenge, no doubt. You have to master the art of climbing, shooting from various angles, and moving stealthily. But once you get the hang of it, there’s an immense feeling of satisfaction and connection to the primal roots of hunting.
Practical Saddle Hunting Tips
1. Embrace the Art of Packing Light
Saddle hunting is a minimalist’s dream. Every item you pack should serve a purpose, contributing to your success in the wild without weighing you down. Analyze your gear critically and eliminate non-essentials.
The freedom and mobility you gain by carrying less saddle hunting gear will often outweigh any perceived benefits of extra equipment.
2. Choose Your Bridge Lenght Wisely
The bridge rope is the lifeline that connects you to your tether and tree. Its length affects your mobility, stability, and shooting angles.
A shorter bridge offers more stability but might limit your ability to maneuver around the tree. A longer bridge provides more mobility and a wider shooting range but could compromise stability.
It’s a balancing act, so spend some time experimenting to find the length that suits you best.
3. Master Your Knot Tying
While it may seem a mundane detail, the art of knot-tying is invaluable in saddle hunting.
Different knots serve different purposes in your setup, from securing your gear to facilitating safe climbing. The prusik knot, for instance, is excellent for adjustable grip, while the figure-eight follow-through knot provides robust and reliable attachment points.
Understanding and mastering these knots can greatly enhance your efficiency and safety in the field.
4. Dress Wisely
Dressing in layers allows you to adapt to varying temperatures and weather conditions.
Choose breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics that can keep you dry and comfortable. If you want your knee to remain bruised-free, consider wearing knee pads. Remember, you’ll be exerting yourself during the climb, then sitting still for potentially long periods, so your clothing needs to accommodate this wide range of activity.
5. Know Your Limit
Understanding your limits is critical in saddle hunting, both from a safety perspective and to ensure you have an enjoyable experience. It’s important to note that this isn’t just about physical limitations but also about mental comfort levels.
Consider your physical comfort and safety when climbing trees. Everyone has a different level of comfort with heights and other physical abilities. Just because a fellow hunter is comfortable climbing 30 feet up a tree doesn’t mean you must push yourself to match that height.
It’s better to stay lower and feel secure and comfortable than to push your boundaries and feel tense and fearful.
6. Be Patient
Patience in saddle hunting operates on several levels. On the surface, the fundamental hunting truth is that wildlife works on its own schedule, and waiting is part of the game.
Also, patience is key when learning the ropes of saddle hunting. Mastering the skills and techniques, from climbing to shooting from a saddle, takes time. It’s important not to rush the process or get discouraged if things don’t go smoothly on your first few attempts. Practice is crucial, and your confidence and proficiency will grow over time.
Saddle Hunter Strategies
Like an orchestra, a successful hunt requires the perfect blend of elements. Here’s a harmonious collection of top strategies you, as a saddle hunter, should add to your hunting repertoire.
1. Blend With Nature
The first rule of hunting is to blend in. That means saying “howdy” to camouflage clothing and gear that mirrors your surroundings. Remember to consider the changing seasons too.
Your camouflage should look like a tree in spring, not a Christmas tree in July!
2. The Height is Right
Saddle hunting is a balancing act between being high enough to remain undetected and low enough to ensure a good shot angle.
While the perfect height can vary based on factors like tree type and terrain, a good starting point is around 20-25 feet. Feel free to adjust as necessary!
3. Mind the Wind
You could be as silent as a ghost, but if you’re upwind of your quarry, they’ll smell you coming a mile away. Always know the wind direction and adjust your approach and location accordingly.
4. Pre-Scout Your Area
Knowledge is power! The more you know about your hunting area, the better.
Use trail cameras, maps, or even a nice pre-hunt walk to get familiar with animal trails, feeding areas, and potential hunting spots.
Choosing The Right Saddle
When hunting saddles, think of them as your home in the trees. Like any home, it should be comfortable, supportive, and tailored to meet your needs. It’s a personal choice; finding the perfect saddle can turn a good hunting trip into a great one.
Here are some things to consider when choosing your saddle:
Comfort is king when you’re spending hours suspended in a tree. You’ll want a saddle that supports your weight evenly and doesn’t dig into your thighs or hips. Look for a model with wide, padded straps and panels for optimal comfort.
When choosing your saddle, always ask yourself, “Is it heavy?”
Why? Well, one of the main attractions of saddle hunting is mobility, which is directly impacted by the weight of your gear. A lightweight saddle won’t weigh you down during your trek through the woods or as you climb your chosen tree. Always aim for a balance between comfort and lightness.
Your saddle should be made of durable, high-quality materials that can withstand the rigors of the wild. Weather-resistant and quiet materials are preferable, as they’ll hold up better in various conditions and won’t make noise that could alert your prey.
These are the points where your tree tether rope and carabiners connect to your saddle. Ensure they’re well-made and sturdy.
Additionally, consider how many attachments points the saddle has and where they’re located, as this will affect the configuration of your gear.
Reviews and Recommendations
Finally, don’t underestimate the power of a solid recommendation. Check out reviews online, ask fellow hunters, or join saddle-hunting forums to get real-life feedback on different saddles.
These insights can be incredibly helpful in making your final decision.
Know Your Trees
Knowing your tree is a critical aspect of saddle hunting, often overlooked in anticipation of the hunt itself. It’s akin to choosing a reliable partner in a dance that’s in tune with your rhythm and supports your moves.
First and foremost, knowing your tree is crucial for safety. Not every tree is suitable for saddle hunting. You need a tree that’s alive and healthy, free from diseases or insect infestations. Dead or dying trees can be unstable and potentially dangerous.
Additionally, the tree’s bark should be solid enough to hold your weight and the weight of your gear.
The right tree can help with your concealment strategy. Consider the tree’s foliage, shape, and surrounding vegetation.
A tree with adequate cover will help you stay hidden from your quarry. If the branches and leaves provide good coverage, it’s easier to remain undetected.
Think of climbing and descending as your grand entrance and final bow in the theater of the wild. The better and more comfortable you are at it, the more you can relax, enjoy the show, and focus on the main act: hunting!
Being confident in your climbing abilities doesn’t just make you safer—it makes the whole experience more enjoyable, too.
Climbing Sticks or Rope System?
Just as there are different paths to the same destination, there is also a climbing method for each situation and preference. Each method has its own flavor and fun factor:
- Climbing Sticks: These are like your tree-climbing staircase. The climbing stick is pretty straightforward to use and is usually the go-to for beginners. Plus, setting them up is kind of like playing with giant building blocks (if the blocks were ladder rungs).
- Rope Systems: Ropes add a dash of excitement to your ascent and descent. Techniques like DRT (double rope technique) and SRT (single rope technique) are your key to feeling like a real-life, tree-climbing action hero. Keep in mind; they do take a bit of practice to master.
Shooting from a Saddle
Shooting from a saddle isn’t just about pointing and firing. It’s a craft that blends technique, intuition, and experience. It’s the grand finale, the climax of your hunting symphony, and it’s a whole lot of fun once you get the hang of it!
Balance and Position
Getting the right balance and position can make a huge difference in your shot. You’ll need to be comfortable leaning into your tether and using your legs to pivot around the tree. Remember, your saddle supports you, so trust it and let it do its job!
Don’t wait until you’re in the tree to practice your shot. Imagine your hunting shooting position on the ground. Practice drawing your bow while leaning into a tether: a sturdy branch or beam can serve as a practice tether.
Remember to work on shots from different positions and angles—standing, sitting, and leaning.
If you could spend an extra bucks, consider investing in a 3D target. It allows you to practice shooting from various angles and mimics the real-life scenarios you’ll encounter while hunting.
Finesse Over Power
When you’re drawing your bow from a saddle, it’s all about finesse rather than brute strength. You might need to adjust your draw weight to be comfortable with the different body mechanics involved in saddle shooting.
Remember, having a smooth, controlled shot is better than struggling with the higher draw weight.
Saddle Hunters’ Safety Consideration
Just like any outdoor activity, saddle hunting has its own safety considerations.
Here’s your safety checklist to keep you hale and hearty during your hunting escapades:
Regular Gear Inspection
Imagine your gear as your trusted sidekick. It’s right there with you, supporting you during your climb, while you’re in the tree, and as you descend.
Regularly inspect your saddle, tether rope, climbing gear, and any other equipment you use. Look out for any wear and tear, damage, or anything that seems off. If in doubt, replace it.
Remember, your gear is your lifeline up there in the trees.
Climbing a tree isn’t like climbing a ladder in your backyard. It needs the right technique and attention to safety. Always maintain three points of contact with the tree (two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand).
Use reliable climbing methods like climbing sticks or rope systems, and always test your weight before climbing higher.
Well, there you have it, folks! Packed into our little adventure today were some fantastic saddle hunting tips to help make your saddle-hunting experience even more exciting, safe, and successful!
Want to put these tips to practice? Learn where you can hunt depending on your desired opportunities with our hunt-by-state guide.