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One Stick Saddle Hunting: The Ultimate Mobile Hunter

Hi there, fellow saddle hunting enthusiast. As a huge advocate of one stick saddle hunting, I can’t wait to share with you my experiences of one sticking using minimal gear, and how it’s helped my public land deer hunting. It’s a wonderful blend of mobility, weight savings, and an almost intimate connection with the wilderness. This approach may initially seem daunting, but with some practice and the right hunting equipment, it opens up a whole new world of possibilities. There is a learning curve, but after some practice I know you can start one sticking safely.

Understanding One Stick Saddle Hunting

Firstly, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of what one stick saddle hunting is all about.

One stick saddle hunting is a method where hunters ascend a tree using just a single climbing stick, then proceed to rappel down after their hunt. While it may sound a bit out there at first, trust me, the speed and ease of this hunting approach will grow on you with time.

Emphasizing Safety in One Stick Saddle Hunting

It’s essential to note that one stick saddle hunting, when done correctly, can be as safe as any other elevated hunting method. Possibly even safer than other methods. Safety is paramount in any saddle hunting technique. As we ascend, we’re typically secured to the tree with a tether or a rappel rope, ensuring our safety at all times. The key distinction here is the post-hunt rappel down, which requires familiarity with your gear and practice at safe heights.

Essential Gear for One Stick Saddle Hunting

Before we dive deep into the mechanics of one stick saddle hunting, let’s discuss the specialty gear needed for this method. Most of this gear is common to traditional saddle hunting, with some additional, unique tools.

  • Long Rappel Rope (30+ feet): For the rappel rope, opt for a high-quality 3/8” static rope of an adequate length to wrap around the tree at eye level while at hunting height and still reach the ground. Although many hunters are using 8mm rope for packability and weight savings.
  • Long Paracord Pull Rope (30+ feet): The pull rope is used to retract your rappel rope post-hunt. Since it doesn’t bear any weight, a lighter pull rope can be used, even one that you use for raising and lowering your bow or crossbow.
  • Madrock Safeguard or Figure 8: These devices facilitate a controlled descent post-hunt. The Madrock Safeguard is a mechanical device that links your saddle’s bridge rope to the rappel rope via a carabiner. Conversely, the figure 8 device, while not mechanical, serves the same purpose by creating tension to slow the descent. I do not recommend a figure 8 device as your main means of repelling, but I do keep one on me in case of emergency.
  • Climbing Stick With Platform: As the name suggests, a single climbing stick suffices for this method. Most one-stick saddle hunters prefer one with a small, integrated platform, allowing you to avoid carrying a separate platform. I personally use a separate platform because I like the added room to stand.
  • Aider: To maximize each climbing stick move, consider adding an aider. This small nylon or rope ladder extends the reach of the climbing stick with minimal weight addition. For one-stick hunting, a two-step aider proves most beneficial.I find that the longer the aider the greater chance of your stick kicking out while climbing.

To gain a comprehensive understanding of these specialized climbing sticks, refer to this comprehensive guide on the best climbing sticks for saddle hunting. All you need is one climbing stick so find a brand you like and purchase one.

A quick demo of One Stick Saddle Hunting and how quickly and efficiently you can get up and down a tree.


The One Stick Saddle Hunting Technique: A Step-by-Step Guide

The technique of one stick saddle hunting may seem intricate at first, but as you practice, it becomes an intuitive process. I’ve broken it down into a simple, step-by-step guide for you. I can do this in the complete dark getting set up in the morning all while remaining quite due to the practice I put in. I also find this the absolute quickest way to get up and down a tree, faster than any other method.

  1. Initial Setup: Start by securing your tether around the tree at roughly chest height. Attach the other end to your hunting saddle. This serves as your primary safety line throughout the climb. To save time you can also start with your rappel rope instead and use it throughout the entire hunt. This eliminates have to switch from your tether to your rappel rope when the hunt is over.
  2. First Placement: Place your climbing stick on the tree below your tether or rappel rope. Ensure it’s tightly secured. Climb onto the stick, using the aider if needed. The secret key here is to use a one stick which has been outfitted with a cam cleat. This allows quick and easy placement and removal.
  3. Moving the Tether: Once secure on the climbing stick, slide your tether or rappel rope up the tree as high as you can. Now stand on the stick, leaning back into the saddle, with your weight supported by your rope.
  4. Climbing and Repositioning the Stick: Now put all your weight into the saddle and unhook the climbing stick from below you and reposition it to right below your tether or rappel rope. Repeat the process: climb onto the stick, move the tether or rappel rope, and then move the stick.
  5. Rappel Rope Setup: (Depending on if you used your tether to climb the tree or not.) When you’ve reached your desired hunting height, tie off your rappel rope around the tree. It should be long enough to reach the ground while still affording a sufficient wrap around the tree at eye level. Attach the other end to your belay device (Madrock Safeguard or figure 8).
  6. Hunting Setup: At this point, you can now set up your platform if you are using one. You are now ready to hunt.
  7. Descend: Post-hunt, switch over to the rappel rope, and now descend the tree using your madrock safeguard. You will be descending using the belay device attached to your rappel rope.

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.

Weighing the Pros and Cons of One Stick Saddle Hunting

Finally, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of one-stick saddle hunting. It’s a technique that offers many benefits, such as significant weight reduction and improved mobility, making it an attractive option for many saddle hunting enthusiasts. However, it does require a higher skill level and familiarity with your gear to execute effectively.


Weight reduction: Carrying only one stick significantly lightens your load, which can be advantageous for long treks into public land.

Mobility: With less gear, moving between spots is quicker and less cumbersome.

Stealth: With fewer placements of the stick, there is less chance of making noise that could alert deer to your presence.

Speed: One sticking makes deploying, ascending, descending, and packing up and leaving unbelievably quicker than other methods.


Learning curve: The one-stick method demands more skill and practice to master compared to traditional multiple stick methods.

Complexity: The process of managing ropes, particularly when preparing for descent, adds a level of complexity that some hunters may prefer to avoid.

Remember, practice is key in ensuring safety and efficiency when adopting any new hunting method. If you’re considering adopting this method or just looking to try out a new hunting saddle, here’s a comprehensive review of the best hunting saddles of 2023.

Now, gear up and get ready to explore the wilderness with one stick saddle hunting!

3 thoughts on “One Stick Saddle Hunting: The Ultimate Mobile Hunter

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