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How to Use a Hunting Saddle: Your Ultimate Guide

Saddle hunting has become increasingly popular among bowhunters, particularly those who hunt deer. Saddle hunting offers numerous benefits, including enhanced safety, 360 degree shooting, and increased mobility. In this article, we’ll explore the top benefits of saddle hunting and provide some useful tips I’ve learned along the way to help you succeed this fall.

What is Saddle Hunting?

Saddle hunting is a technique where hunters use a tree saddle (a type of harness) to securely attach themselves to a tree while hunting. This method offers increased mobility, safety, and comfort compared to conventional tree stands. Saddle hunting has been used effectively over the years by many big name hunters.

Top Benefits of Saddle Hunting

  1. Enhanced Safety: Safety is the primary advantage of saddle hunting. Hunters are tethered to the tree at all times, from the moment they leave the ground. This greatly reduces the risk of falling and ensures a secure hunting experience.
  2. Noise Reduction: Saddle hunting eliminates the creaking noises associated with metal tree stands, as saddles are made of fabric and ropes. This quiet setup allows hunters to remain undetected by deer. Setting up quietly under the cover of darkness can be done quickly and silently.
  3. Lightweight and Portable: Tree saddles are lightweight (usually under two pounds) and compact, making them easy to carry and transport. This enables hunters to quickly move to their desired hunting location without being weighed down by cumbersome equipment. This also reduces sweating and leaving ground scent all over while walking to your hunting spot.
  4. 360-Degree Shooting Range: Saddle hunting allows for a full 360-degree shooting range, so hunters never miss an opportunity. This mobility is especially beneficial when hunting near food sources, where deer are likely to linger at close range. This has helped me over the years when a deer comes from an unexpected direction such as my back.
  5. Versatility in Tree Selection: With saddle hunting, tree size is not a limiting factor. Hunters can choose trees as small as 4 inches or as large as 30 inches in diameter, allowing for optimal positioning near key hunting spots like scrapes or water sources. You will never look at a tree the same again after trying saddle hunting.
  6. Improved Shooting Accuracy: Saddle hunting offers three points of contact for the hunter: two feet on a platform and their body weight supported by the saddle. This stable setup allows for more accurate shots, particularly when bowhunting. Shooting from a saddle does take plenty of practice though.
  7. Cost-Effective: Saddle hunting can save hunters money by eliminating the need for multiple tree stands or blinds. Using a single saddle for all hunting locations is both economical and efficient. It can be expensive to start, especially if you like all the latest and greatest gear, but in the long run ends up being cheaper than buying multiple pre-hung stands.
  8. Theft Prevention: As unfortunate as it is to say tree stand theft is a common issue on public and heavily pressured lands. Saddle hunters can take their gear with them, eliminating the risk of theft or unauthorized use of their equipment.
  9. All-Day Comfort: Saddle hunting provides a comfortable seat for all-day sits during the rut, when mature bucks are most active. Hunters can easily adjust their position to alleviate discomfort, increasing the likelihood of a successful hunt. Additional accessories can also be purchased to help with comfort such as knee pads or back rests.
  10. Secrecy: Taking your saddle with you helps keep your hunting spots a secret from other hunters. There’s no trace of tree steps or ladders left behind, and the ability to hunt any sized tree adds an element of unpredictability. This is by far one of the most overlooked advantages to using a saddle.

Tips for Saddle Hunting Success

Now that you’re familiar with the benefits of saddle hunting, here are some tips to help you achieve success in the field:

Practice shooting from your saddle

Before heading out to hunt, practice shooting from your saddle to familiarize yourself with the different shooting positions and angles. To practice shooting you don’t always need to climb up to height. Set up your platform and tether on a tree only a foot off the ground and shoot, shoot, shoot. This will save you time from having to climb up and down the tree and allow for practice just shooting out of the saddle.

Choose the right tree

Select a tree with good cover to help conceal your movements and position. A tree no longer needs to be straight up and down like it does with a conventional tree stand. Additionally, branches no longer pose a problem since one of the benefits to saddle hunting is the ability to get around branches while remaining tethered to the tree at all times. All that would be required is using both your tether and linesman belt in order to get around that branch and up to the perfect spot.

Use high-quality gear

Invest in a well-made tree saddle, platform, and climbing equipment to ensure your safety and comfort while hunting. Look for gear that is lightweight, durable, and easy to use. Also be sure to check out facebook market place or any online forum for any used saddle hunting equipment.Check out our recommendations for the best hunting saddles of 2023 and consider using the Lone Wolf Pocket Arm for saddle hunting and self-filming.

Optimize Your Setup

Take the time to adjust your saddle, tether, and platform to achieve the perfect fit for your body. This will ensure maximum comfort and stability while hunting, allowing you to focus on the task at hand. And if possible try to find a friend or go to a meet up with fellow hunters and try different saddles out to see which feels best on you.

Develop a System for Climbing and Descending

Develop a consistent method for climbing and descending trees that is both safe and efficient. Using climbing sticks, steps, or a combination of both can help you navigate trees with ease. You need to practice over and over and have a methodical method of how you approach and climb a tree. This gives you the best results as it makes you quicker but also safer. Climbing a tree in the pitch black on a cold morning during the middle of the rut in a bedding area is no problem if you practice. Check out our guide on saddle hunting for more information on climbing techniques and gear.

Master the Art of Concealment

Utilize natural cover, such as branches and foliage, to break up your silhouette and blend into your surroundings. This will make it more difficult for deer to detect your presence.You can also use the tree you are tethered to as concealment and use it to mask any movements.

Utilize Scent Control Techniques

Deer have an exceptional sense of smell, so it’s crucial to minimize your scent while hunting. Use scent control products on your clothing, gear, and body, and pay attention to wind direction to ensure you remain undetected. You can go as high or low as needed using a saddle and playing the thermals. 

Plan Your Shot Opportunities

Anticipate the paths and movements of deer in your hunting area and position yourself accordingly. This will allow you to make the most of your shot opportunities when they arise. I position my bow on my strong side. I practice all shots, but ideally I would like that deer coming from my strong side. If not you can always pivot in any direction unlike with a conventional stand where you are limited.

Be Patient and Persistent

Saddle hunting, like any hunting method, requires patience and persistence. Spend time observing deer behavior and patterns, and be prepared to put in the hours necessary to achieve success.

Practice Leave No Trace Ethics

When hunting from a tree saddle, it’s essential to practice Leave No Trace ethics. Remove all of your gear and any waste you generate to preserve the natural environment and minimize your impact on the area.

Continue Learning and Improving

As with any skill, saddle hunting requires continuous learning and improvement. Seek out advice from experienced saddle hunters, watch instructional videos, and stay up-to-date on the latest gear and techniques.

By following these tips and implementing the advantages of saddle hunting into your hunting strategy, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying a successful and rewarding experience in the field. Embrace the benefits of this versatile and effective hunting method, and watch as your success rate soars.

Join the Saddle Hunting Community

One of the best ways to continue learning and improving your saddle hunting skills is by connecting with like-minded hunters. Join online forums, social media groups, and attend saddle hunting events or workshops to expand your knowledge and share your experiences. The saddle hunting community is generally welcoming and eager to share tips and advice with fellow hunters.

Experiment with Modifications

As you become more experienced with saddle hunting, you may find that certain modifications or upgrades can enhance your overall experience. From customizing your tether system to adding accessories that improve your comfort or efficiency, don’t be afraid to experiment with your setup. On my own personal saddle I made my bridge adjustable which it wasn’t before. This added more comfort and gave my saddle a more personalized fit.  Be sure to visit our article on saddle hunting to explore more options for modifications and upgrades.

Consider Hunting on Public Land

Saddle hunting is particularly well-suited for hunting on public land, where you may need to frequently change locations to avoid competition from other hunters or adapt to changing deer patterns. Public land hunting can be more challenging, but it can also be an excellent way to hone your skills and learn to adapt to various hunting conditions. Read our guide on public land hunting for more information and tips.

Set Goals and Track Your Progress

As with any pursuit, setting goals and tracking your progress can help you stay motivated and focused on improvement. Consider setting specific goals related to your saddle hunting skills, such as mastering a new climbing technique, perfecting your shot accuracy from various positions, or harvesting a certain number of deer in a season. Document your experiences, successes, and challenges in a journal or digital log to help you identify areas for improvement and celebrate your accomplishments.

Stay Informed on Industry Advances

The world of saddle hunting is constantly evolving, with new gear and techniques being developed regularly. To stay on the cutting edge, subscribe to hunting magazines, newsletters, and podcasts, and follow industry leaders and innovators on social media. Staying informed on the latest advancements can help you make the most of your saddle hunting experience and ensure that you’re using the best tools and techniques available.

In conclusion, the key to saddle hunting success lies in your commitment to learning, improving, and adapting to new challenges. By following these tips and embracing the saddle hunting lifestyle, you’ll be well-equipped to enjoy a rewarding and successful hunting experience. Good luck, and happy hunting!

2 thoughts on “How to Use a Hunting Saddle: Your Ultimate Guide

  1. […] about a game-changing piece of hunting gear that I’m sure you’ve already heard of: the tree saddle. Having embraced this versatile equipment myself, I want to share my insights on why it should find […]

  2. […] If you’re interested in more detailed explanations about saddle hunting techniques and how to use a hunting saddle, do check out this ultimate guide. […]

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