Regarding saddle hunting, one important thing you should always ask is, “How to maintain and care for your hunting saddle?”
One important ingredient in a successful hunt is preserving the functionality of your gear, and this post is here to guide you through it. Each aspect is crucial, from regular cleaning and conditioning, and proper inspection for early signs of wear, to careful storage and mindful care of saddle flocking.
We’ve laid down all these important points in this post to help you maintain your hunting saddle. Let’s dive in and ensure your gear stays as stunning and functional as the day you got it!
Table of Contents
Saddle Hunting Gear Basics
At its core, saddle hunting is about being lightweight, mobile, and flexible. This type of hunting involves a unique set of gear, each piece playing a crucial role in the overall hunting experience.
Here are the basics of saddle hunting gear:
- The Hunting Saddle: Tree saddles are your seat in the trees, lightweight and comfortable alternative to a traditional tree stand.
- Tree Tether: Your lifeline to the tree; this rope or strap adjusts as you change your height or move around the trunk.
- Lineman’s Belt: This belt wraps around the tree and your saddle, providing stability and hands-free movement during climbing.
- Platform or Steps: These are your footholds, either a small platform or individual steps, that provide a standing position and improve shot range.
- Carabiners and Ropes: Carabiners are fastening tools for ropes, while ropes are used with the saddle, tether, and lineman’s belt.
- Climbing Sticks: These climbing sticks are your way to the treetop. However, depending on your preference, you can use an alternative climbing method.
- Safety Gear: This includes additional safety harnesses and helmets for extra security.
Remember, each piece is essential to your saddle-hunting setup, ensuring a successful and safe experience.
Know Your Hunting Saddle
A hunting saddle is like your best buddy up in the trees. It’s a special harness that hugs your waist and thighs, giving you a comfortable and secure perch while scanning the woods from high above.
It’s nimbler and lighter than the traditional tree stand, making it a darling among modern hunters.
Common Hunting Saddle Material
Understanding the structure of your hunting saddle and the materials used in its construction can help you take better care of your gear.
Here are the common material used in hunting saddles that every saddle hunter must be aware of:
Our saddle often sports a leather outfit. It’s tough, flexible, and has the comfort level of your favorite armchair.
But, like your skin, leather needs a little TLC to keep from drying out and cracking. A gentle clean with saddle soap and a good buff with a leather conditioner will keep it looking neat and feeling soft.
You’ll find metal parts like buckles and rings on your saddle. These shiny little heroes help with adjustments and attachments. Usually, they’re made of rust-resistant stuff like stainless steel.
But it’s still a good idea to check them now and then for any signs of wear. After your hunting adventures, give them a clean and dry to keep them in tip-top shape.
Flocking is like the secret cushioning in your saddle, often made of cozy wool. It doesn’t need much fuss, but it’s worth checking on time-to-time to ensure it hasn’t gone lumpy or hard.
If the flocking feels off, you might need a professional to fluff it back up.
The Importance of Regular Cleaning
Over time, your saddle collects dust, dirt, and grime from your adventures in the wilderness. Just as we wouldn’t want to go to bed covered in muck, your saddle wouldn’t either!
This crud isn’t just unsightly—it can cause damage, leading to the leather drying out, the metal parts rusting, and the stitching deteriorating.
So, how do we pamper our saddle to keep it in tip-top shape?
First things first, the right tools. You’ll need gentle saddle soap, a soft cloth or sponge, and a quality leather conditioner. Avoid anything harsh that can strip the natural oils from the leather.
Conditioning Your Tree Saddle
Like how humans need to moisturize their skin, your tree saddle needs conditioning occasionally to prevent being all dried and crackled up.
Conditioning helps keep the leather supple and prolongs its life, making your saddle a trustworthy companion for many hunting seasons to come.
Type of Saddle Conditioner
Now, there are many types of saddle conditioners out there, and choosing the right one might seem tricky.
You’ve got conditioners based on natural oils like neatsfoot or mink oil, and synthetic options like leather balms or creams.
All of them have their pros and cons, but the best choice really depends on your saddle’s specific needs and the climate you live in.
If you’re in a dry climate, an oil-based conditioner could be a fantastic choice to give that leather a deep drink of moisture. A wax-based conditioner might be a better fit if it’s more humid, as it provides moisture and creates a protective layer against excess humidity.
Dealing with Wet Saddle
We all know water is essential for life, but when it comes to your saddle, too much moisture can be a bit of a party pooper.
You see, if your saddle stays wet for too long, it can cause the leather to swell and then shrink as it dries, which can lead to hardening, cracking, or even warping – none of which sounds like a good time!
But don’t worry, if your saddle’s caught in a downpour, it’s not all doom and gloom. Here are some friendly tips to help it bounce back:
- Wipe It Down: Grab a dry cloth and wipe off as much water as you can.
- Air Dry: Let your saddle air dry naturally in a well-ventilated area. No heat or sunlight, just patience!
- Condition: Once dry, treat your saddle to a nourishing leather conditioner. This will help keep it flexible and looking great.
- Regular Checks: Keep an eye on your saddle while drying. If any part is drying faster, apply a bit more conditioner.
Catch The Problem Early
Inspecting your saddle regularly is all about catching minor issues before they turn into big problems. It’s like checking your car’s oil; catching issues early can save you a heap of trouble down the line.
But what are we looking for? Here are the common tear and wear problem hunting saddles that might cause you problems:
- Loose Stitching: Check for any stitches that might be starting to fray or come loose. Caught early, these can often be fixed with a bit of needle and thread work.
- Cracked Leather: Keep an eye out for any cracks in the leather. Regular conditioning can help prevent this, but if you spot a crack, a leather repair kit can often save the day.
- Bent Hardware: Look for buckles or rings that might be bent or deformed. If you find any, it’s best to replace them ASAP to prevent mishaps during a hunt.
Proper Storage for Longevity
Ideal storage conditions for your saddle are a cool, dry place with good ventilation. High humidity can encourage mold growth, while too much heat can dry the leather out and jeopardize your saddle-hunting experience.
Here are some tips for perfect saddle storage:
- Clean First: Always clean your saddle before storing it. Dirt and sweat left on can damage the leather over time.
- Use a Saddle Rack: A good saddle rack that supports the entire underside of the saddle is a worthy investment. It helps maintain the saddle’s shape and prevents any warping.
- Cover Up: Consider using a breathable cover to protect your saddle from dust, but avoid plastic covers that can trap moisture.
Although we don’t always have the luxury of ideal conditions for storing our saddles, there are still ways to navigate these situations.
If you find your storage area is too humid, a dehumidifier can come to your rescue, helping to keep those moisture levels down and your saddle happy. In cases where the temperature runs high, consider insulating your storage area to create a more stable, cooler environment for your gear.
But the real hero in less-than-ideal conditions is vigilance. Regular checks are even more crucial in these scenarios. Keep a keen eye out for any signs of mold, drying, or other damage to ensure your saddle remains in top-notch condition, regardless of where it’s stored.
Saddle Hunters’ Care Mistakes to Avoid
To avoid problems with saddle care, there are some common pitfalls to watch out for.
- Overcleaning can strip natural oils from the leather, causing it to dry and crack. Stick to a regular cleaning schedule, and don’t go overboard.
- Rush drying with heat sources or direct sunlight can also cause cracking. Regularly inspect your saddle to catch small issues before they become big problems.
- Improper storage will expose your hunting saddle to moisture, resulting in rusty and damaged gear.
Money-wise, we know that hunting saddles can bum us out, and it’ll be a waste if it goes down to drain after a few seasons. That’s why it’s important to know how to maintain and care for your hunting saddle to ensure enjoyable and safe hunting while preserving your investment.
Want to experience your first season saddle hunting? Then, our hunting-by-state guide is here to guide you in narrowing your hunting options.