onX Maps
tips for starting saddle hunting?
Equipment
Contributors to this thread:
deserthunter 04-Jan-22
JohnMC 04-Jan-22
Bou'bound 04-Jan-22
deserthunter 04-Jan-22
Grey Ghost 04-Jan-22
Jaquomo 04-Jan-22
Grey Ghost 04-Jan-22
t-roy 04-Jan-22
timex 04-Jan-22
yooper89 04-Jan-22
Shiloh 04-Jan-22
JTreeman 04-Jan-22
CurveBow 04-Jan-22
Jaquomo 04-Jan-22
Shiloh 04-Jan-22
timex 04-Jan-22
SaddleReaper 04-Jan-22
Native Okie 04-Jan-22
WV Mountaineer 04-Jan-22
papajack 04-Jan-22
Basil 04-Jan-22
Native Okie 04-Jan-22
midwest 04-Jan-22
azelkhntr 05-Jan-22
Michael 05-Jan-22
buc i 313 05-Jan-22
midwest 05-Jan-22
DRR324 05-Jan-22
WV Mountaineer 05-Jan-22
APauls 05-Jan-22
M.Pauls 05-Jan-22
midwest 05-Jan-22
Will 05-Jan-22
Pat Lefemine 05-Jan-22
DRR324 05-Jan-22
MA-PAdeerslayer 05-Jan-22
Timbrhuntr 05-Jan-22
Grey Ghost 05-Jan-22
Lee 05-Jan-22
rattling_junkie 05-Jan-22
midwest 05-Jan-22
rattling_junkie 05-Jan-22
ILBow288 05-Jan-22
KHNC 05-Jan-22
M.Pauls 05-Jan-22
APauls 05-Jan-22
Lee 05-Jan-22
Shiloh 05-Jan-22
elkmtngear 05-Jan-22
t-roy 05-Jan-22
spike78 05-Jan-22
midwest 05-Jan-22
CAS_HNTR 06-Jan-22
WV Mountaineer 07-Jan-22
Zim 07-Jan-22
midwest 07-Jan-22
APauls 07-Jan-22
ronsoutdoors 07-Jan-22
rooster 11-Jan-22
APauls 11-Jan-22
Shiras42 11-Jan-22
rooster 11-Jan-22
Shiloh 11-Jan-22
TD 12-Jan-22
midwest 12-Jan-22
APauls 12-Jan-22
midwest 12-Jan-22
TODDY 12-Jan-22
SaddleReaper 12-Jan-22
TD 12-Jan-22
TD 12-Jan-22
TD 12-Jan-22
TD 12-Jan-22
TD 12-Jan-22
TD 12-Jan-22
midwest 12-Jan-22
WV Mountaineer 12-Jan-22
TD 12-Jan-22
JTreeman 12-Jan-22
foxbo 15-Jan-22
crowe 15-Jan-22
TGbow 15-Jan-22
foxbo 15-Jan-22
Leo17 16-Jan-22
SaddleReaper 17-Jan-22
TD 20-Jan-22
Treeline 21-Jan-22
WV Mountaineer 21-Jan-22
Treeline 21-Jan-22
Tracker 24-Jan-22
From: deserthunter
04-Jan-22
Really thinking about starting tree saddle hunting this year. Any suggestions ? Do,s or don'ts ?

From: JohnMC
04-Jan-22
Get a good horse. You don't want to get bucked off when trying to shoot.

From: Bou'bound
04-Jan-22
Don’t do it

From: deserthunter
04-Jan-22
Thanks JohnMC for your tip. I actually have a World Championship Mounted Shooting buckle to my name . So me and horses get along just fine. Me and trees not so much.

From: Grey Ghost
04-Jan-22
As an owner of multiple horses over the years, my only advice is to expect to get stepped on, kicked, knocked over, bucked off, and bitten by a 1000 pound animal that spooks from ghosts that only he sees. ;-)

I had intentions of putting a team of pack horses together to hunt with 20 years ago. I changed my mind after helping an outfitter set up his camps prior to the elk season. We spent far more time dealing with his horses then we did setting up the camps. I started realizing they would take away too much potential hunting time, and wouldn't be worth the effort and expense to me. So, now my horses are basically big expensive pets that my wife won't let me get rid of.

Matt

From: Jaquomo
04-Jan-22
Back to the original topic....I'm a ground hunter at heart but have a few places where a saddle would really be an advantage. They look uncomfortable to me, but would like to hear from some who swear by them before I drop $250 on one.

From: Grey Ghost
04-Jan-22
My apologies for not understanding the topic. I read "saddle" and immediately thought of hay-burners (horses). Sorry.

Matt

From: t-roy
04-Jan-22
The Pauls boys and Midwest (among others) should be along shortly. They are very knowledgeable on this subject.

From: timex
04-Jan-22
I know they've come a long way since the original sneaky sack that I have. When I was younger & a lot more nimble the sneaky sack 6 or 8 screw in steps & I was happy in a tree with a limb to stand on but also back in those days I ran the ridges with a run & gun style of hunting. If I found a hot whiteoak or wild pear, apple or persimmon perhaps I'd get up in a tree for a sit & for that type of hunting it was great. For a full morning or evening sit not so much and absolutely not on an all day rut sit. . & there's nothing anyone can say to convince me a saddle is more comfortable than a hang on or climber & especially when hanging on a bare tree without limbs with screw in or strap on steps for your feet.

Yes they absolutely have their place but I think ultimately your hunting style will dictate if a saddle is for you or not

From: yooper89
04-Jan-22
Jaq what brand/model are you looking at for $250??

From: Shiloh
04-Jan-22
I have used a climber and lock ons down here in the south for whitetail most of my 35 years of hunting. I started using a Tetherd saddle last year and have used it for two years now exclusively. I sat in it for 10 hours one day this year in Illinois and it was fine. No better or worse than a sitting type stand for comfort, but much easier to get around and deal with than a climber or lock on. I am 6’4 and weigh about 275# just for size reference if that’s an issue. I would advise getting on something like saddle hunter.com and try to buy used to start with. That’s also a good place to study on different manufacturers.

From: JTreeman
04-Jan-22
Ha, I’m looking to give it a try next year as well. I’ve been shopping the higher end stuff (buy once cry once) based on some Bowsiters recommendations. The set up I’m looking at is more in the $1k range!

—jim

From: CurveBow
04-Jan-22
Ok, you asked. I did it too this past fall after trying my sons.

1) save $1,000.00. It'll cost about that much 2) Be limber. To maximize your effort, use climb aiders (strap things that allow you to increase height using fewer sticks). You have to be agile & flexible and determined! 3) Practice with it all before trying to hunt. 4) Figure out a good pack system to carry it all. Its not the weight per se, but more the bulk. I wore the Tethrd saddle from the truck going in. The Tethrd platform in my EXO 3500 pack load shelf (cuz my son carries his there), and 3 sticks with rope aiders (forever tangling on the sticks) plus some sort of hook(s) for hanging the bow & your pack once you've reached hunting height. 5) After all that, in truth, I only hunted with it 1.0 times. I practiced with it 2.0 times in the backyard. I really don't know if my future will see me using this at age 67. I'm in good shape, still run and am fairly coordinated and flexible. I was looking for a replacement for my Loggy Bayou climber. I used to hug the tree & inch my way up. That isn't working so well anymore. So, I may buy a Lone Wolf Sit & Climb. But mostly, I use my home welded (OK, it was at work years ago before I retired)(hey, I was the boss and did it after hours... OK, mostly!) Screaming Eagle knock-offs with climbing sticks and a ladder stand ot two. But, all that isn't that light & portable.

So, good luck with that plan! :)

From: Jaquomo
04-Jan-22
Yoop, I was looking at a Cruzer. Don't want to drop the kind of money needed for a high end setup without trying one first.

From: Shiloh
04-Jan-22
What kind of setup cost a grand?? I am out of touch apparently. I use wild edge steps to get up the tree and have been fairly satisfied. I would be interested in some of the higher end steps with aiders. Also, I might talk to some people about a more custom 2 panel saddle. They say they are better for big guys??

From: timex
04-Jan-22
Curvebow....I'm 60 had my sit & climb for a long time. Go up & down effortlessly & as comfortable as your favorite chair. Love mine

From: SaddleReaper
04-Jan-22
I've been hunting from a saddle on and off since 2008. So, before it became a (at times cringey) "fad". Almost exclusively the last 5-6 years all of my hunts have been from a saddle. I actually love not having to maintain tree stands. In one season I counted 24 different trees that I had hunted.... only own a fraction of that in tree stands. There is something to be said for having a complete saddle set up or high end hang-on, with a good climbing system.

I could give an entire gear list of my preferred set up, but you may have a different budget and preference.

If I could give some advice.... steer clear of tethrd saddles, for now. They need to improve on a few things. I've tried and owned most of the popular models on the market and they continue to fall short of the competition.

What in particular are you looking for as far as tips?

From: Native Okie
04-Jan-22
Been guys using them for a long time. I remember reading the Eberhart books years ago and they were exclusively saddle hunters. I’m thinking about getting in the pool myself and trying it. Will look to Midwest for the right setup.

04-Jan-22
Tethrd makes a fine saddle. I’ve got to admit, I’ve only owned two saddles. Both were Tethrd saddles. Both were of fine quality and comfort. But, the predator is superior.

I don’t have the experience of trying to inform you on a bunch of brands or models. Because it’s kinda mundane to me. You pick one that suits you, you buy it, you fit it as the manufacturer suggests, then you hunt out of it. I can’t imagine a modern saddle being uncomfortable.

However, There are things that might make one more appealing then another. Brand and/or model. I don’t know what to tell you other then both of mine are extremely comfortable. However, the predator is ridiculously comfortable.

I use several climbing methods. Sticks and a two tether system. I’ve got about $250 in the climbing system’s and $315 in the saddle system. It isn’t cheap but, I’ve sold all my ladder and lock on stands. They paid for the saddles and sticks. All three stick sets I own actually. It’s replaced every stand except I kept a summit viper. If I had to choose, I’d pick the saddle setup.

If you want a low profile to haul, otherwise much lighter setup that packs into a small space for transport, this is your ticket. If you have many scouted locations then this is your ticket. If you want to hide better from a cagey whitetail, then this is your ticket. I routinely pack my setup in for long hauls too. I refuse to carry a summit viper for three miles one direction anymore. That’s why I bought it. But, it turned out to be so much easier then a lock on and, far more comfortable, it’s replaced all of them.

The market is rocking. If it’s not for you, then you can easily sell it. But, if you are in any of the above categories and give a saddle a fair shot, I’m betting you continue to use them.

From: papajack
04-Jan-22
Does anyone use strap on tree steps instead of climbing sticks when saddle hunting, and if so, how do you like them?

From: Basil
04-Jan-22
Watch “ one sticking so easy a 13 year old can do it” on YouTube. Very slick method with minimal gear to carry. The climbing rope & ascender add some cost but I hate carrying multiple sticks. I never liked the “spongy” feel is strap or rope on steps.

From: Native Okie
04-Jan-22
Been guys using them for a long time. I remember reading the Eberhart books years ago and they were exclusively saddle hunters. I’m thinking about getting in the pool myself and trying it. Will look to Midwest for the right setup.

From: midwest
04-Jan-22

midwest's embedded Photo
Shikar sticks with 1/8" Amsteel rope mods I made and my 3D printed cleat I shamelessly plagiarized. :-)
midwest's embedded Photo
Shikar sticks with 1/8" Amsteel rope mods I made and my 3D printed cleat I shamelessly plagiarized. :-)
midwest's embedded Photo
Trophyline EDP
midwest's embedded Photo
Trophyline EDP
midwest's embedded Photo
Lineman's belt with Kong Duck ascender, tether with prusik, gear hanger.
midwest's embedded Photo
Lineman's belt with Kong Duck ascender, tether with prusik, gear hanger.
Check out Saddle Hunter Classifieds on FaceBooger....it's free and loaded with buyers and sellers. The classifieds on the Saddle Hunter website will cost you $15/year to buy/sell. The bad news is used stuff is selling for not much less than new. The good news is if you try something and don't like it, you can get back nearly what you paid for it.

Think of saddle hunting as just another tool in your kit. It's not a religion and it doesn't mean you can't hunt from tree stands anymore...lol. I'm in the process of manufacturing a bunch of climbing sticks and platforms that I can use for presets. The great thing about saddle hunting is you only need a small platform of around 1 foot square and only weighing a few pounds. Or you can go even smaller down to just using a ring of steps or a combination of both. Think of how many sets you could carry and put up in a day compared to hanging a bunch of full size stands.

There's a few basic things you need for saddle hunting:

1) A climbing method. No different than using a hang-on stand. My current setup is 3 Shikar sticks and a Versa Aider. This will easily get me to 15 feet. Another stick would get me to 20 ft. The sticks weigh about 1.5 lbs. each, the aider weighs a couple ounces.

2) A platform. I built my own which I really like but I recently bought a commercial model to try. A Trophyline EDP. It weighs just under 4 lbs. They make bigger and they make smaller. I like one big enough I can stand on and lean against the tree occasionally or stand and turn around on for a weak side shot. I haven't played with a ring of steps yet, but I will in the future.

3) A lineman's belt for climbing. This would be no different than what you should use for climbing and hanging a stand but it will be attached to the lineman loops on your saddle. I recently upgraded from 11mm Samson Predator rope with a figure 8 tied loop and Ropeman 1 ascender to 8mm Oplux, sewn loop, and a Kong Duck ascender. Much more compact and a little lighter. The ascender makes for quick, easy adjustment of the lineman's belt. If you're on a tight budget, you can get by with a prusik knot.

4) A tether for attaching the bridge of your saddle to the tree when you get up to your platform. I also upgraded this to 8mm Oplux. Some guys use another ascender for attaching the tether to the bridge. I went to a prusik knot. Less metal, a little less weight, and you really aren't adjusting it that much once you're set.

5) A gear hanger. No different than if you're hunting from a stand. If I'm on private, I screw in hooks for hanging my bow and another for my pack. If I'm on public and can't screw into trees, I have a gear hanger strap I made with 3D printed bow hangers, a Camjam for hanging my pack, and several other little snap open hooks for a range finder, grunt tube, etc.

6) The saddle. I started with a homemade model, loved it, and bought a Tethrd Phantom a year later. There's a million of them out there now. Watch a bunch of YouTube videos and read reviews. It's probably hard to go wrong these days.

For comfort, a saddle is hard to beat. When you are leaning out from the tree, your weight is distributed between your legs and ass so neither get tired for long periods. Like I said, I like to stand and lean against the tree occasionally. Some guys wear kneepads and sit with their knees against the tree. You just have to put some time in the tree and see what works for you.

You may love it and use it exclusively or use it occasionally if you're just bouncing around a new area or checking out some public spots. It's a lot less commitment than hauling a stand in and a lot quicker/quieter when making a location adjustment.

I know I'll be taking my setup out west in case I want to sit water somewhere.

From: azelkhntr
05-Jan-22
Didn't know what this was about till I saw this and looked it up. Seems to me its going to be a very narrow market for this setup. No thx.

From: Michael
05-Jan-22
I run a Tethrd Phantom saddle. I also have the predator platform. The one thing I might upgrade to is the Predator XL.

For sticks I run 4 - 24” beast sticks with the Amstel rope mods that Midwest shows in his post. I also run ascenders on my bridge as well as my lineman’s rope.

The pros of saddle hunting. You can get by hunting skinny trees You can get buy hunting crooked or leaning trees as well. With a good system in place you should be able to install sticks and be up the tree in 5 minutes.

Not sure of any cons other then if I am pulling long sits in a tree I would rather have a stand and a seat.

From: buc i 313
05-Jan-22
Do not have tender feet !!

From: midwest
05-Jan-22
"Seems to me its going to be a very narrow market for this setup."

lol...saddle hunting has exploded in recent years.

From: DRR324
05-Jan-22

DRR324's Link
Midwest nailed the basics in his post. Year #3 in my Aerohunter Flex and been looking at the Latitude Method 2. My brother just bought one and I'm going to give his a test run but I like it. A bit larger "seat" area compared to Tetherd and the "backband" doubles as a panel as well. 30 years ago John Eberhart (good friend of mine) got me into the the sling type saddle and I hunted from it for a few years but could never get away from the hip pinch. Not an issue on any of the newer ones. My climbing system consists of 5 LW sticks cut to 18" with 18" cable aiders from Eastern Woods Outdoors, and Amsteel daisy chain ropes. I tried the 3 step strap aider and hated it- one toe slip and it's a battle. The cables are always right where they should be. With 5 sticks- I'm 24' with ease. Also run a Predator platform along with bullman ring of steps. I'd highly recommend checking out SaddleHunter.com and youtube Eberhart Outdoors. I know a bunch of hunters despise John for his arrogance, my way or the highway type discussions. Like I do with anyones opinion or knowledge- watch the content, pick a few things up that might help you and disregard the other stuff. Plenty of ways to skin a cat, but he knows saddle hunting and what works for him. I'm a firm believer that the system makes me a better hunter by being mobile and hunting the freshest sign.

05-Jan-22
Phantom. Not predator. I’m an idiot. lol

From: APauls
05-Jan-22

APauls's embedded Photo
APauls's embedded Photo
So I went to a saddle a few years back, but I had been "mobile hunting" or "hang and hunting" for all my life. So I moved to it from a system of hanging a tree stand for every sit.

The main thing I would ask is why are you changing? What are your goals? There are many reasons to do it, but what is the need you are trying to address? Let that drive your actions. The reason I say this, is because saddle hunting is not setting up a blind. It is a commitment to a little bit of tinkering on the front end.

When you start researching saddle hunting you'll see all kinds of people that are just obsessed with having a setup that weighs nothing. These people won't even use climbing sticks they'll use a single rope to get 30ft up. While all very impressive to me, most of the time all that is a whole lot to-do about nothing. A "heavy" saddle setup like what I have weights well under 10 lbs, and takes as much room as a fanny pack. If you can't carry this for miles you have bigger issues than saving ounces on your setup.

So it comes back to your goals - what are they? For me, being here in Canada with absolute crap for trees to hunt (8" poplars half the time) getting behind the tree was very important to me to utilize the tree for cover. It has worked supremely well. Shootability is improved over a tree stand because of the range of motion. Those were the main needs for me and they have been met in spades. I did not want to sacrifice comfort, which led me to buy a 2nd saddle and sell my first one that I didn't find as comfortable as I wanted, although I still had no problems with 4-5 hour sits.

So, knowing that - and the why I got into it, I will tell you what I do. It is not the "lightest" but I love it. I still use 3 climbing sticks that I attach to my Mystery Ranch Pop Up 18 pack which is very small. I can set up 3 sticks quickly, quietly, and safely. I have done it many times with bedded deer in the vicinity. I like to use a plaform to stand on, it is just very comfortable and nice and easy to use.

So I will set up my 3 sticks, climb up and use my one and only rope - the hang rope or whatever as my lineman's belt to hang my platform. I don't use one when hanging sticks as I just don't need it, and the hassle of using one when going around branches is too annoying. I trust my arms. I know that will be blasphemy to safety freaks, but believe it or not I will climb up a tree higher than 10ft with my kids with no ropes at all!

Then I am in the tree, and I use what used to be my lineman's belt as the rope that allows me to hang and now I am good to go. I will screw in a tree step to hang my bow on, and another for my small pack. I chose this small pack for it's tiny profile in the tree, and ability to pack what I need. Once there, you're hunting. Easy peasy.

I have to say an ascender makes them MUCH nicer to use than a prussik knot.

All that being said, getting used to hanging and hunting is much likely a way bigger change to most people's hunting styles than going from a stand to a saddle. Picking a tree and shooting through cantaloupe sized holes to kill an animal is way different than having "shooting lanes." I have been hunting this way for many years in a province that has brutal thick hazel brush everywhere and almost all my shots are snap shots through baseball, cantaloupe, and sometimes basketball sized holes. Every now and then a field edge or swamp allows for open shots. But you are now picking a tree in the dark, and hoping to be able to shoot a deer wherever they come through.

This was my most recent saddle victim ;) This buck was almost certainly bedded within earshot when I set up, as the bluff I was hunting was very small.

From: M.Pauls
05-Jan-22
Saddle hunting makes a lot of sense. Especially if tree options in your area aren’t awesome. I hunted less this year than I ever have, but up until the last week, hunted exclusively from a saddle. I’m a hardcore hang n hunt guy previously and had my system very dialed. I figure in my favourite Lone Wolf stand I have over 1000 hours to give you an idea of how much I used it.

I found it hard to adjust to the saddle. For me, setups took longer, and although the concept makes sense, I found myself not being able to make certain shots. I did find it comfortable though, not quite like a stand, but not bad. For my last week of the season I got back in a stand (was trying a Lone Wolf Customs this year) and killed a nice buck on the third day. I would have had a tough time adjusting for that shot out of a saddle.

If a guy was just starting out, I think my advice to him would be to go saddle so he can learn it like the back of his hand. It still makes so much sense to me. I’ll have to decide for myself if I continue on with it. If they didn’t offer so much concealment, I would have just dropped it and went back to the hang on, period. But the concealment intrigues me.

Hope this helps. I think it’s worth giving a real go. As to which saddle, I won’t go there as my input is almost worthless, as I’ve only tried one

From: midwest
05-Jan-22
Adam, what sticks, platform, and saddle are you using?

From: Will
05-Jan-22
I intentionally didnt read the other comments - didnt want to shift my thinking on this, and just wanted to offer my experience/opinion.

Number one, it's great - the saddle. It's a super tool. I do think some folks adapt super quick to it and just love it totally... then there are folks (small %) who just HATE the things and then there are folks who find it great, but also recognize aspects that can be frustrating. I'm in that group.

Number one, during your first season, no matter how much you practice before the season, commit to using it for all hunts. Just make the choice, accept the challenge. Nothing beats actually being in a tree and learning how to move with deer around, or how to position yourself in general. It sounds like a small difference to be setting up sort of backwards from how you would a standard stand, but it can really mess with your head. Likewise, the climbing system you think you love in July in your backyard or at the range, suddenly can seem less good come deer season. Sort of "forcing" that first year to be total immersion will help you figure out YOUR system really well. That was good advice I was given my first year, and it was very helpful.

Note, I said YOUR system. More than any other tree based system of hunting I've seen, people have their own personality/idiosyncrasies displayed with climbing/platform systems with a saddle. Are you a knee pad person - if so what style? OR, do you like a tree wrap pad for your knees? Do you like sticks or steps to get up? If you like sticks do you want long ones like Heliums or LW... Or short ones? Do you want aiders - ok, what material: wire, tubing, rope, single loop or multi step aiders? Do you want cinch straps or some sort of rope mod? Do you want a ring of steps or a platform or a perch on your top stick? Do you want to one stick or multi stick or what not. There are a lot of little things to explore, and most folks seem to think they have it dialed pre season, then go hunting and decide to start tinkering as they experience "the real thing". Be ready for that process and open to exploring options.

Shoot from it, a lot. Do you like to do a 180 on the platform to shoot weak side or walk around the tree? Stuff like that. It can feel really weird at first. Again, committing helps here, to really learn it.

End point, anticipate a lot of experimenting.

In the end, for me, I've used my climber only 1x the past 2 seasons, all other hunts have been from the saddle. Some days I wished I had my climber... But the adaptability with the saddle has been great.

And I have to admit, that whole "hide behind the tree thing" you can do so well with the saddle... Man that works.

So, it's worth the effort, but it's not the end all be all greatest thing ever. There are times I could envision using my climber... And if I was hunting much private land maybe a fixed stand again. But overall, it's been super. And for a mobile hunter largely on public ground, constantly roving and following the sign each set up... It's been great.

Good luck with it!

From: Pat Lefemine
05-Jan-22
I don’t get the appeal of this saddle hunting stuff. But then again I don’t understand the rock harness craze either.

I’m not criticizing it. I find it interesting and have spent a bit of time looking into it. I ended up concluding that it’s not for me. I may think differently if I hunted public ground but thankfully I have my own ground and can put stands wherever I need to.

From: DRR324
05-Jan-22
APauls, congrats on an awesome animal!! MPauls, my next couple lines are honestly just questions and statements- no "extra" tones meant or implied bud. Just wondering if you practiced "all the shots" out of your saddle in the off season? The only "challenging" shot is really the "off side" according to all the video guys. This shot isn't a challenge if you are using a ring of steps as you can rotate clockwise (for right hander) around the tree and now the shot is strong side. A lot of guys will turn on the platform and put their back to the tree- can be done by passing the bow under or over the tether. They are a bit trickier that staight strong side. It did take some practice for me to also grasp the "rotate my hips" so my bridge slides in my biner for any angle shots. Just took time to trust the equipment basically. I also still own 3 LW set ups and will hang one or two on my regularly hunted peice at home and take one to Ohio with me to hang as well. Like AP said, just too many positives for concealment, pick any tree based on sign, wind or thermals, climb and hunt.

05-Jan-22
I went saddle last year and this year almost exclusively hunted from it. Two all day sits In PA and I was comfortable the whole time. Most of my hunts home didn’t exceed 4/5 hours. I love it and will always use it. Even on my own land I have pegs in trees ready to roll. All I have to do is climb and strap in.

From: Timbrhuntr
05-Jan-22
I did a bunch of research then used my daughters sewing machine to make my own. Cost was a third of the retail ones and I was able to add a bunch of options that I took from other setups . I also modified my sticks and added aiders so I can get higher if I want and use smaller sticks that are easier to carry. Plus at the time there were very few option to purchase in Canada.

From: Grey Ghost
05-Jan-22
I'm with Pat on this one. I've been saddle-curious for a while, and every time I look into them, I decide they aren't for me. I like getting into a pre-set stand quickly, quietly, and with as little effort as possible. I hate working up a sweat, and making a bunch of noise, before settling in for a sit. Most of the trees I sit in are large Ponderosa pines, often with 3' diameter trunks and big limbs starting close to the ground. Hanging any stand in them is challenging hard work, and often requires trimming for shooting lanes. I can't imagine trying to do all that in the dark before a morning sit. I also have the luxury of hunting properties that I can leave my stands hung for the entire season. My ladder stands stay up year around.

I'm sure saddles are useful for certain type hunts in some areas, just not for my type hunting.

Good luck, and let us know what you go with and how well you like it.

Matt

From: Lee
05-Jan-22
I hunted the last two seasons out of one. The first season was exclusively out of one. This season I hunted a combination of saddle and Lone Wolf. It definitely is a learning curve but it has its place. My hesitation to go totally to one is a quick, high pressure shot could cost you. The deer switches direction at the last minute, etc. can be tough to quickly adjust too. Last season I killed 2 good bucks, to include my biggest out of my saddle. I shot him on my weak side and it worked out. The buck I shot this season I shot out of my lone wolf as I already had the tree prepped for that stand. I am confident I would not have killed that buck out of my saddle as I would not have been able to get in position fast enough to make the shot.

I will say even when I used my Lone Wolf I wore my saddle. The climbing belt portion of it is so safe I gravitate towards using it regardless.

Lee

05-Jan-22
I have not used a saddle, but before I even knew they existed just a safety harness and stood on a tree branch, that seemed stealthy at the time. For all day sits how do saddle guys piss from the stand? I don't see a wrong right answer here, but sometime using a tree to block yourself from an animal can almost affect your vision as well and when you see said animal. I think a Lone Wolf with a rock climbing harness might be a killer option for shootability and the smallest amount of movement. My style is more about slow and minimal movements, so a saddle might not be best for me. Just things to think about and things I continue to ponder about, and I am considering saddle hunting. I think they definitely have their place.

From: midwest
05-Jan-22
"For all day sits how do saddle guys piss from the stand?"

Same as out of a treestand; unzip, lower it to just below my platform, and let 'er rip. :-)

05-Jan-22
Haha!!

From: ILBow288
05-Jan-22
for folks looking to try dabbling in saddles, XOP currently has a sale for a saddle, platform, and all the lifelines/tethers/bridge ropes needed for only $200. Free shipping even. It's not the absolute lightest, most comfortable setup on the market, but it's solid for someone starting out to see if they like it. As others have said, the high end saddles and platforms are pretty pricey.

From: KHNC
05-Jan-22
Ill give my input on this as i have killed 30-40 whitetails from a saddle since 2010 when i first started using them. My first was the Guido's Web Saddle, (now JX3). I still have and use 2 of these. Initially i used lonewolf sticks and 4 screw in steps to maneuver around the tree 360 degs to shoot. The GW has a bar in between your legs to rest on the tree. It is fairly heavy and is worn as a backpack. Last year in added a traditional type saddle to the mix. I originally chose the Tethrd Phantom. I hated it! Very uncomfortable and constantly felt like i needed to pull up my pants. Im 5'10 190 for reference. Also experienced some hip pinch. Promptly sold it and bought the Cruzr XC. That thing is a dream compared to the phantom. Very comfortable. I actually sat dark to dark two days in a row in Missouri during the rut. Two of the best things i did was start using Wild Edge steps to climb and a ring of steps in place of screw in steps. I wont bother with a platform. They are fairly heavy and bulky. If i wanted to hang something, it would just be a hang on stand instead. You also need a good pair of knee pads for saddle hunting. I use the Alta's with a hard plastic shell so i can "sit" against the tree. I use 5 Wild Edge steps to get 20' to my ring of steps. I use the "Chris Cain" climbing method. You can search this on youtube. My full setup only weighs 9-10lbs and i wear it in around my waist. Cant get much lighter or mobile than this. Its not like a M100 hang on, but its perfect for mobility and stealth.

From: M.Pauls
05-Jan-22
DRR324, To answer your question, no I hadn’t practised at all prior to season. All I was doing was learning as I go. For sure that plays a huge part here. And I haven’t given up on the saddle yet. I’ll keep trying. In the unique situation of my setup, where I said I couldn’t have made the shot out of a saddle, it truly was that way, and I believe a very experienced saddle hunter could’ve potentially pulled it off, but it would’ve been less than ideal for sure. It was on my left (when sitting in my stand facing out) and I am right handed. With where the buck came from, and one really large branch in the way, I need to sort of just crouch down and shoot to my left. Also, with where the buck came from, it would’ve been quite stunt for him not to see me readjusting for that positional shot. The stand in this instance was on the backside of the tree and kept me hidden until the shot presented itself. It was perfect.

I just shared this to say I don’t believe the saddle to be the “be all - end all” but just in theory I do still believe that the saddle offers more benefit once fine tuned.

I’ll also add that I say all day in the saddle and was quite comfortable.

David, to whizz, I just leaned on my side and kinda hung there and let rip. Odd feeling but it worked. I don’t have quite the problem that Nick does so I don’t have to build in a pecker rest into my saddle system yet. If I did, I would go carbon with a merino cover as to offer some warmth

From: APauls
05-Jan-22
Pat, if I was dropped into your shoes I'd never use a saddle either - your logic is sound.

If you have the type of situation where you are hunting your own ground, and the ability to invest in a bunch of stands in great locations, absolutely nothing beats walking up to your stand and climbing in. You guys have great large trees down there, and the only thing you'd be missing IMO is a few degree of shootability. Not worth the swap IMO. Nothing beats walking to a tree setup with a stand already in it and lanes cleared. That's still the dream for this prairie bumpkin!

Nick - I am using the Tethrd platform - Predator or something it's called? This past year I also bought the Hawk saddle I think it is called a Hawk Helium or something. Comes as a complete set. Definitely not a high end setup, but ore comfortable than the Tethrd Mantis I had I find. I use 3 sticks be it Lone wolf or I bought a set of Hawk sticks. They are not as nice. Two step sticks are the best for setup. Maybe next year I'll go to the bank and add a LOC to the mortgage so I can get a set of LWCG steps....

From: Lee
05-Jan-22
I hunted the last two seasons out of one. The first season was exclusively out of one. This season I hunted a combination of saddle and Lone Wolf. It definitely is a learning curve but it has its place. My hesitation to go totally to one is a quick, high pressure shot could cost you. The deer switches direction at the last minute, etc. can be tough to quickly adjust too. Last season I killed 2 good bucks, to include my biggest out of my saddle. I shot him on my weak side and it worked out. The buck I shot this season I shot out of my lone wolf as I already had the tree prepped for that stand. I am confident I would not have killed that buck out of my saddle as I would not have been able to get in position fast enough to make the shot.

I will say even when I used my Lone Wolf I wore my saddle. The climbing belt portion of it is so safe I gravitate towards using it regardless.

Lee

From: Shiloh
05-Jan-22
You’re a show off Midwest. I only pull out enough to keep from dribbling on my clothes, but I normally break the 3 shake rule!!

From: elkmtngear
05-Jan-22
I got to use a saddle for the first time, this year on my buddy's place in SC. Did one "practice run" on a tree at camp, and then had to figure out how to get set up before daylight.

Small non-shooter buck comes in at first light, I was able to draw on him comfortably (at 10 yards), and let down after he passed.

Shooter buck comes in, about 20 minutes later, from the same direction, but splits around toward my back side. I had to figure out how to maneuver around for the shot (he was moving at a pretty good clip), and by the time I got my position, and needed to draw, he looked up and busted me !

Definitely a learning curve. But I really like the portability, and can see how I would definitely use it for mobile hunts out West.

From: t-roy
05-Jan-22
Nick……..Do you use some sort of retraction/reel system, or just hand over hand, when you’re finished???

From: spike78
05-Jan-22
Shiloh barely for me ha! I’m going a hybrid route this fall and using a saddle with a Lone Wolf platform. Bare minimum stuff to carry in and low weight.

From: midwest
05-Jan-22
Troy, hand over hand. Doyle's refused to quote me a custom gear hoist for some reason.

From: CAS_HNTR
06-Jan-22
I am gathering all my gear to get into a saddle for next year......another tool in the box as stated.

One question I do have it about best pack to haul sticks, paltform, saddle, and some extra clothes. Seems like some folks use a nicer back with meat shelf, others just a cheaper pack and some straps. Any words of wisdom?

I am going to see if I can get my Molle II frame to work if I can but open to suggestions.

07-Jan-22
For me, pack choice depends on the way I intend to get the deer out. Long walks in I use a Kifaru frame pack. Hunts where I’m not intending to pack the deer out, I just use a cheapo from Wally World. Field line brand I think.

From: Zim
07-Jan-22
I am really comfortable with my 14.7# Lone Wolf Assault climbers. But watched many videos on saddles and may just try one of the XOP’s to see how I like it. Might be useful for trees with branches.

From: midwest
07-Jan-22
CAS_HNTR, you can just wear the saddle. No need to haul it in and put it on at the tree. It can replace your safety harness for stand hunting, too.

From: APauls
07-Jan-22
Small walks, wear the harness. But best whitetail pack ever, for hauling stands or anything is the Mystery Ranch Pop-up 18. They marketed it as a light weight hunting pack able to carry your first load back for elk/Mule deer etc. But IMO they COMPLETELY missed the mark on it's best use. It does what the Sitka Tool Bucket TRIED to do. There are way more whitetail hunters than big game hunters. Just swung and missed. Now it is discontinued. They still make the pop up 28 though.

From: ronsoutdoors
07-Jan-22
I enjoyed reading all of the opinions from everyone . I have one question of someone that is my size 5' 6" 180 lbs what one do you use or someone close to that ? thanks

From: rooster
11-Jan-22
I've watched or listened to dozens of "how to" videos when it comes to saddle hunting. One thing that never comes up is how they work with cold weather outer wear. Does the saddle cause your coat/jacket to ride up? On stand, I wear my safety harness under my outer layer to prevent that from being a problem.

From: APauls
11-Jan-22
Rooster - I have no issues with Canadian level outerwear. I put the waist strap over the jacket.

From: Shiras42
11-Jan-22
This might sound a little crazy to some...

I hunt private property and rather than buying a bunch more ladder stands I have resorted to buying cheap used ladders or getting some for free that my friend can no longer use at his company. I just strap the ladder to the trees and can either use the top rung of the ladder to stand on or carry in the platform. Quick and easy and overall cheaper than buying multiple stands.

From: rooster
11-Jan-22
APauls, roger that. Thanks

From: Shiloh
11-Jan-22
I also hunt private property and I ordered some Treehopper bolts and a bit for a cordless drill. Even though I spend a majority of my time hunting with my kids I plan to put bolts in a bunch of trees so that I can just wear the saddle and carry a platform. I also have ladder stands, lock on stands, house stands, etc.........so the saddle is just another tool.

From: TD
12-Jan-22
Lou I have a Cruzer Archon and it's a very good saddle. I wanted a two piece as IMO it adds a bit more versatility in set up. You can set it for a bit of back support if wanted. Came down to that one or the Latitude. Don't think you can go wrong with either. It replaced an old original Trophy Line Tree Saddle, so I've been in the saddle game a while. Had to replace it as the non-adjustable bridge didn't work well for my new climbing method, but quickly found saddles had come a long way! Mainly we got into them as people were stealing our stands, and here it's ALL private land. My last year with stands we had two stolen that were locked in with chains. People trespassed and came in with bolt cutters. Crazy stuff. To hunt with a saddle and set up a bunch of trees you just have to prep them as necessary. Pick a tree, climb up and hunt.

On thing I've started getting into lately is what we call "virgin" stands (just because we can...). Pick a tree you've scouted out, go in, climb it and set up quietly. So often you go in early and prep a site near a trail they will change up and move. These axis deer don't take to pressure at all. Sometimes the stands get better the next year, but often you won't see them again that year, at that spot anyway.

To facilitate that I studied and studied, hated sticks, clumsy, heavy, noisy. Finally bit the bullet and went all in with a one stick climbing set up. Am getting fairly comfortable with it and have yet to find a tree I couldn't climb that I wanted to. Even have climbed a couple that had to transfer to another limb/trunk part way up. Stay steady, methodical and slow and have had no issues.

My stick is a 15" Ultimate One Stick from the boys at Eastern Woods. Great folks to work with. With the "ultimate" platform build into the top of the stick, so no need for a separate platform to set up. At first I carried a couple wild edge steps to augment the stick but honestly have yet to need them and don't carry them anymore. I'd guess maybe if a yuge tree you were on, but the platform on the stick is like a condo up there from what I'm used to. It's super solid, can push off sideways from it and it doesn't move. Cam cleats make it easy to release and make moves. I'm still a bit leery of them an take care how I place my tag end. But once loaded you have to really work at it to release the full bury amsteel rope. Unload the stick lifting up (has a cable handle to lift it) and the cleat releases easily, no fussing around with buckles or daisy chains.

Have an amsteel 3 step (15" steps) aider that I made attached to the stick and can get 5 to 6 feet per move pretty quietly as you're just dealing with one stick. I have a love/hate relationship with aiders. Love the light weight and compactness. Once learning how to dig in your toe to the tree to climb it got easier to climb, so climbing with aiders is... OK. Not bad. But having had aiders on other sticks, I HATE coming down with them, especially in the dark which it seems to be a good many of our sits. That's no issue with one sticking as you don't use the stick/aiders at all coming down. You remove it from the tree and rappel down your rope. And you are safely down in seconds, plus coming down out of a tree has never been so much fun. =D Like a kid in a carnival ride....

You will see this over and over in one sticking.... the belay/rappel device is the key to the whole show, that key is the Madrock Safeguard. It can be done other ways with other tools, often just to save some money. And also all last year because you couldn't find one for sale anywhere. Used ones were going for double of what they cost new. But I got on a "list", held out and got a new one for a reasonable cost. Folks that say their way "is just as good" have likely never used one. My rappel line is also my tether line, the majority of it in a pouch on my saddle until ready to come down. The Madrock rappel device is also my "prusik" that connects to the saddle bridge with a carabiner, super easy adjustment. Coupled with an autoblock loop for the rappel (a friction hitch like the prusik) Have a Ropeman ascender on my linemans rope and have practiced turning the linemans into an ascender with the safeguard and ropeman to inchworm back up in case you do something stupid.... like drop your one stick. Haven't yet but you never know. Another scenario is slipping off the side of a heavy leaner, can't fight gravity, just kinda have to go with it. Ascending back up was pretty easy once you get your rhythm.

With that rig and 40 feet of climbing rope I can get to 30' if I ever wanted to. Once comfortable with it, and I practiced a bunch to make sure I can do it in the dark..... alot of fun just getting in and out of a tree! Unlike alot of guys I use my lineman quite a bit, I'd say I'm tied in two ways near 100% of the time, so I'm a bit slower going up. But I'll pretty much beat anybody using sticks overall as I'm quietly down in seconds and packed up to walk out in a couple minutes, just need to figure 8 my ropes and pack out.

Yeah Jim.... by the time you add up everything.... you're looking close to a grand. I think I had well over a hundred just in rope. I got the higher end dyneema pull rope too. Every little thing like that makes a bit of a difference. You can use para cord but you use that rope to pull down your rappel rope once on the ground.... you DON'T want it snagging and para snags and tangles on everything. Dyneema is super strong, a stiffer body and slippery too.

Love the saddle, haven't hunted from a stand in a few years now. Likely won't again. Like stated above, there is a learning curve, set up being a big one as you're setting up the opposite of what you've done all your life. Making sure you have a good "platform" which can be many things, many of our trees were just well placed limbs. The new stick is a game changer for me as the closest I came to a "platform" was using several wild edge steps, which worked well, but you're back to packing in a bunch of noisy stuff. A note on "steps", if using steps as platforms we like the wild edge because it's one of the only ones that take some heavy side loading or some side torque. That happens as you're pushing away from the tree on odd angle shots (normally shots you'd never even get from a fixed stand) Leaning into the saddle away from the tree with no fear of slipping or falling and just worrying about making a good shot.... priceless... =D

Have to take the time and get some pics of the gear to post...... yeah I know.... kind of a tool whore..... but I love good gear/tools. And this stuff works really really well.

From: midwest
12-Jan-22
Which platform did you go with on your Ultimate One-Stick, TD?

From: APauls
12-Jan-22
I guess one other thing for guys to consider: If you plan on using fancy rope systems and stuff to get up and down and need finger work to make that happen, better be sure you don't hunt in crazy cold temps. After long sits in really cold temps finger work is difficult. You don't want to be stuck up there. I had many sits where I could barely undo the Lone wolf buckles and they are just a squeeze after a long cold sit, never mind work on anything fancy.

From: midwest
12-Jan-22
I still have a set of LW sticks that will be used for presets, now. I replace those straps and buckles with a simple rope mod.

If I were in your shoes, Adam, and using the LW sticks as my only climbing method, I would replace those straps with some 8mm accessory cord and replace the versa button with a quality cam cleat. Quicker, quieter setup and easier to remove with heavy gloves and cold digits.

From: TODDY
12-Jan-22
Adding to APauls comment: For all of you One Stickers, how easy is that to climb using that method in sub zero temps with all of your layers and oversize boots on? I have stayed with multiple sticks just because it doesn't appear it would be safe with all that gear on trying to fit larger boots in a multi step aider. Thoughts? TODDY

From: SaddleReaper
12-Jan-22
TD - no mention of the noise and movement associated with rappelling and then pulling all that rope down at the end of the hunt? How is it on a bed of leaves that are dry as a popcorn fart when its a dead calm evening? What if you're hunting near an evening food source with deer in close proximity and have to 'slip out'?

Also no mention of the tree trunk straightness coming into play as you descend? For example if you climb a leaning trunk you likely won't be rappelling freely down to its base if need be. You will have to walk the trunk down... My point is, while One sticking may be the ultimate minimalistic and convenient approach in some aspects/ scenarios, there are some inherent disadvantages or cons.

No matter what climbing system one uses, there will be pros and cons to each. Some hunt scenarios may be better suited for sticks. Understanding each is important to figuring out what suits you or your typical hunting scenarios best. Youtube serves as primary source of information on just about every climbing method currently known.

Considering the aforementioned; this is why if you are hunting private land, its probably best to just have pre-set locations with sticks or steps in place so you don't have to go through the exercise of setting up for each hunt. Retain a setup of sticks or steps etc. as a "floater" for when you truly need to be mobile. As Pat and others have cited, there is lesser value in using a fully mobile setup on private land. With the exception of the saddle itself.

There also might be an argument that it's "safer" bringing ropes and saddle with you for each hunt vs climbing into a tree stand in the dark that you don't routinely inspect straps and cables on....

For me personally and since I'm hunting private land most of the time, I have a slew of screw-in steps, sticks, etc. deployed in trees which I plan to hunt more than once throughout the season. The only thing missing is a tree stand. I like that I don't have to maintain/ replace treestands and straps, or pull treestands each season. I still do off season trimming and site prep for silent entry and exit. Nobody can sit in my spots unless they bring a stand, which is also not hanging out there like a beacon waiting to be stolen. The long term investment is also cheaper than full hang-on or ladder stand setups if we're just talking about owning one mobile saddle setup to do it all and allow you to hunt many spots without having to re-set stands. When it comes to maintenance; saddles are generally built to last for many many years. Semi annual replacement of ropes is probably a good idea. But there are no cables and metal to rust, or straps to weather, get chewed, or stretch around a growing tree. But be careful.... once you start buying saddles and climbing gear it usually turns into an addiction of trying this new stick or trying that new saddle... :)

From: TD
12-Jan-22

TD's embedded Photo
Set up in a tree outside my shop. Likely climbed this one a dozen times. Neighbors and cars going by seemed very entertained. 3 step 3/16" amsteel aider, full bury steps, etc. Cool stuff to work with.
TD's embedded Photo
Set up in a tree outside my shop. Likely climbed this one a dozen times. Neighbors and cars going by seemed very entertained. 3 step 3/16" amsteel aider, full bury steps, etc. Cool stuff to work with.
The rope is pretty quiet and haven't found any way to levitate over dry leaves. Rubbing on bark, etc. all those are fairly "natural" sounds with trees and limbs falling, another deer rubbing or pigs rooting make. I even carry both a "pig grunt" call and an elk mouth reed to mimic the axis herd sounds. If for some reason I make a bunch of noise on a super quiet day, using either of those after getting set up tends to mellow out the nearby animals. What I have pretty much eliminated was any metallic "clank" (unless I forget to turn my release around) and that's the sound that gets everyone's attention. Unnatural noises. And my lone wolf sticks and/or the wild edge steps... always had a hard time with those being quiet. Wrapped with tape, changed out the straps and buckles with buried amsteel and prusiks. At some point they nearly always clanked setting them up. Or taking them down. Takes two pieces of metal to clank. Most all of my metallic noise has come from the carabiners and ropeman, etc. With some heavy duty shrink tubing I've dealt with a good deal of that.

WRT sub zero..... you guys can have that. You have my sympathies. It's 7am here and 72? Supposed to get into the high 50s tonight.... But at some point I'm flying with this gear, another reason I got it. Plan on sitting water in the evenings for elk in various states, coues deer in AZ, etc. Bears in the spring maybe. Have no desire for the super cold. Can certainly see the point of preset trees in that case. Hell, I'd use a ladder for sure. And if you're using a ladder may as well use a stand. Here it will be stolen. On private land. Even poachers here are territorial..... they'll do it just to let you know they are there.

Nick, I got the UP (Ultimate Platform) and pretty glad I did as it's big enough to shuffle around on, swing out with, etc. Perfect for me. I was thinking I might need to add some other steps and such but on normal trees I haven't had to at all. Not that much heavier as the stand off is integrated into the platform. It's a pretty grippy texture, so much so I used my dremel to smooth out the integrated notch you can use to pin it to the tree with your tether to help attaching for the next move. Was worried it might abrade on the rope. So textured you can get a pretty good abrasion on uncovered skin. Also smoothed out the edges on slots for the aiders. The slots are made for strap aiders, not rope. Rounding the edges should help with wear on the rope aiders at the attachment points.

From: TD
12-Jan-22

TD's embedded Photo
soda can for reference
TD's embedded Photo
soda can for reference
Some reason the "image tools" aren't rotating the pic. Sorry, hope these others maybe will.

The stick itself is 15" long, platform is 14" x 8". Ends have outward angles on them to push out or "around" on. Also the front edge angles down the first couple inches making it more comfy for "leaners" and still flat on the top for "standers". With the Safeguard it takes just a second to adjust tether length to better sit, stand, lean, or move around the tree. Folks that use a ropeman instead of a prusik have that as well though. Only prusik I have now is my bridge adjustment and a backup autoblock friction hitch attached to the linemans when rappeling down. The rappeling is so controllable you can go down an inch at a time or fly down like Rambo.

All wrapped up I attach it pretty easily to either a fanny pack or the pack frame if I might have to pack out an animal a ways and no close access. Stick with aiders comes in at 3.13 lbs

From: TD
12-Jan-22

TD's embedded Photo
TD's embedded Photo
Trying to edit before posting..... lets see how that works.....

From: TD
12-Jan-22

TD's embedded Photo
Tether/rappel rope, linesman rope, saddle, stick/platform and bow/tether retrieval line.
TD's embedded Photo
Tether/rappel rope, linesman rope, saddle, stick/platform and bow/tether retrieval line.
nope. edit the pic in the file and still comes back up sideways? huh.

Anyway, this is all the gear to get up to 30 feet if you wanted to. All would fit in a gym bag or fanny pack. The "orange" rope is the tether/rappel rope, 40' of 9mm Sterling canyon elite. These climbing ropes are pretty cool, quality stuff. Color me impressed. Attached is the madrock safeguard and a smaller (shorter) size steel carabiner instead of the popular "delta" or chain coupler.

The black and blue linesman rope and ropeman I've had for a while now. I think 8mm rope and I forget the brand, had it for some time now, started using it when I ditched the original strap that came with the Trophy Line saddle. Tried prusiks.... but they take two hands to use most times and can be a pain for quick adjustments on the climb. Tried using "tenders" too, better, but still could be a pain. Ropeman fixes all that. Love em.

Saddle as stated is a Cruzer Archon two panel. I can access the leatherman on my belt between panels and it doesn't dig in either. =D Right now I'm just using the same belt pouch as was on my old Trophy Line. Will be making another custom one soon using a "roll up" design center with pockets on either end. About roughly 30' of the climbing rope goes in the pouch when climbing and hunting. Deploy it when you're done and ready to come down. Coiled in a figure 8 I've yet to have it tangle on me when tossing it down.

The dayglo line is 40' of dynaglide 1.8mm. It's a dyneema rope similar to amsteel. Cool stuff. It's both my bow pull up rope and used for rappel rope retrieval, small stainless "S" biners on each end. Figure 8ed again for no tangles. Picked it up later after fighting with a paracord line a time or two. A "worth it" improvement IMO. Biggest deal is to remember to connect it to the main rope before climbing down or it..... complicates things....

From: TD
12-Jan-22

TD's embedded Photo
tether link, safeguard, spring pin and attachments.
TD's embedded Photo
tether link, safeguard, spring pin and attachments.
Business end of the system. Rope, "link" and safeguard.

"Link" is used to connect the tether around the tree. You need something that's quick to connect as going around limbs and such with pulling 40 feet of rope through a loop is an issue. I use a smaller size STEEL carabiner instead of the more common delta link or chain link. It's 18Kn climbing rated. If I remember this one has a higher rating than the delta/chain couplers. Some advise against carabiners for the tether loop as many don't take side loading very well, due to the curvature of the tree trunk, smaller the tree the sharper the curve. But those are much longer carabiners (larger levers against the tree curve) and aluminum, not steel, far more brittle when bending. You can see the difference in the pic between this one and the Black Diamond Rocklock which is 24Kn rated. (Love the the BD, has a smooth round profile, round profile ovals work better on ropeman and many other belay/ascender devices where the carabiner is an integral part of it's function.) Much easier navigating around limbs when climbing than the delta/chain coupler links IMO. I like screw locks on ALL the carabiners.

The Madrock Safeguard is a "one way" rope device similar to the ropeman, until you pull the lever that is folded up on the side of it. The lever changes the angle of the device and adjusts the braking on the rope. It took me a while to get used to this. Was like learning how to drive with a clutch as a kid. Pull the lever and you begin to descend.... at which point I'd freak out a little inside with the "falling" feeling and let go of the lever which locks things back up again. Herky jerky was name of the show. As I got more comfortable (and learned how to use tension with the off hand in the autoblock) it got real easy to smoothly control the speed of your decent, or stop whenever you want to. Inch down or Swat Team it. Simple as a car clutch once you get the "hang" of it, so to speak. The rock climbers here will know.

One other issue. The tether link is a good bit heavier than a rope loop on most saddle tethers. On smooth straight trees with no limbs, you give the tether a little slack and the rope/link can loosen and tend to slide down with it's own weight. Not a good thing until you're ready to take the rope out of the tree. To fix that there are many ways, some use one of those soft ties with wire inside to keep tension on the link. They also make a plastic clip you can buy made just for that (it's rope size specific, keep in mind if ordering one) What I use is a stainless "hairpin" spring pin with shrink tubing on it to help grip and keep it quiet. You can bend it a bit to adjust the tension on the rope. It's tethered onto the rope so as not to drop it. Works great. At first I had a loop a bit from the end on my retrieval line that attached to the pin so as when you pulled on the line the pin would disengage from the rope so you could pull the rope on through the link. I got rid of that as it's pretty easy to remember to to pull the pin at the same time you connect the retrieval line. I guess some folks attach their retrieval as soon as they get set up (yeah, sucks to forget before you go down) Mine stays attached to my saddle belt from climbing up, I figure 8 it and stash the rest in a pocket after I get the bow pulled up. Lower the bow when done, then transfer the line from the saddle to the retrieval point on the rope. At that time I remove the pin and as long as you keep some tension on the tether it doesn't slip down. And gives me two "don't forgets" as to make sure and connect the line to the rope before coming down.

I have a loop of 7/64" amsteel tied just below the scaffold knot on the link. This is where all the advise I could find said to attach the retrieval line to, I went with all that advice. I guess attaching directly to the link might interfere with retrieval or cause wear on the line? Anyway, seems to work well, so that's what I have and where I attach. I've tested it and have hung on these tiny lines and connections with all my weight and had no issues. Dyneema (amsteel) is tough strong stuff.

From: TD
12-Jan-22

TD's Link
Anyway..... any questions I'll help if I can. Was saying a while now I wanted to delve into it, share it, finally decided to do it and get it out of the way. The one stick climbing I focused on here is just another way to get up in a tree. Lots of em out there, just as with stands. Although I'm not sure I'd do this to climb and still lug around a stand. It best fits hand in hand with saddles IMO.

Saddles themselves have come a long way, are simple, easy. Kinda like stands, some more comfortable than others, depending. IMO the key to either is how you safely, quickly, quietly and easily get up and down using one, not so much the stand itself.

Studied a ton on this stuff before diving in..... 90% of it on the Saddlehunter.com forums (linked above). Days of reading and info to scour and sift through. Youtube I've been told (so I'm stealing it) is the sum of all mankind's acquired knowledge. As Yogi Berra would say.... I got the other half from there =D Facebook maybe? I don't know, don't do it.

For gear I have to recommend the Eastern Woods Outdoors guys as they were a great help for me. Have no affiliation.... but flattered if somebody thought so maybe =D Likely other companies would be a great help as well. Lots of this stuff has been out of stock for quite a while but has been coming in and available bit by bit. Much better than last year around this time.

I'm not any official authority on it by a long shot, but studied my azz off AND stayed at a Holiday Inn. It's not too bad a system..... very comfortable, fast, light and portable to da max. I'd say it helps to be maybe a bit athletic, but I'll be 66 in a month or so and no issues wid it. Your mileage literally may vary.... and your weather I can't help ya =D

From: midwest
12-Jan-22
How are you attaching that s-biner on the retrieval line to the 7/64" amsteel? It looks like it's wrapped around tight below the scaffold knot.

12-Jan-22
I’m too broke down to be called athletic anymore. Too many knee surgeries. So, if I can do this as easily as I do, anybody can.

I wanted to mention something that hasn’t been touched on. It’s the safety factor to me that gets lost in these discussion.

A saddle setup, when used correctly, is the safest way to ascend, set, and climb down a tree. There is not one time a person isn’t hooked into a 100%, fall stop if they climb with a tether.

The only Way you could fall is if the rope broke. I’m not a fortune teller but, if a climbing or amsteel rope breaks on you, it was your time to go. Nothing was going to save you. These ropes ain’t breaking.

Also, your hands will be in constant contact with your “life line”. Literally. You aren’t standing on a metal or aluminum platform, held by cables, strapped to a tree with a strap. That might not seem like a big deal. But, I promise having your vision and hands on the equivalent in a saddle setup, 100% of the time is a very reassuring experience. Your key to climbing and hunting from elevated heights stays in constant vision and in your hands at all time.

You are in control of everything. No slipping, not getting tripped up and falling out, etc…..

To see that value in the safety of a saddle, really puts me at ease when I’m in one. I will never have to consider falling again. That’s nice to me. If I fell 15-20’ on these knees, I’d die from the pain. I like not even having to consider it.

I know they look uncomfortable. I know many just won’t like them due to their own preferences. But, they are a tool and they are indeed very comfortable. And SAFE.

If you decide to try one, just tuck the fact that you cannot fall out of the tree if you climb with a tether.

Anyways, I ain’t trying to sell anyone on it. Only make sure that you are being fair with yourself. Most of us are older. Certainly on the backside of life. And, climbing a tree to set for hours on end can result in hitting the ground pretty hard if you fall out. I know, I’ve done it. And, I’m guessing everyone can agree if hitting the ground is what hurts, then ensuring you never fall is the best way to prevent it.

From: TD
12-Jan-22
There's a loop sticking out of the wraps, some other junk just blocking the view. =D

Saw just now the edited 2nd pic in the tree has now turned correctly? Go figure. That first set I can get to around 7' pretty easy from the ground. Hanging from the tether on the next moves I can only get around 5' per move, mostly limited by how high you can place the tether so as to hang and move the stick. I'm a bit vertically challenged =D But just two moves can get me to 15-16' I'm standing on top of. Around here that's usually plenty, any higher and you likely start fighting the forest canopy for any shooting lanes but for straight down. We don't have any "fall" where the leaves come off. They are always falling and always growing. Have had folks tell me "make the aiders longer" but I can still only reach with the tether so far on top of the platform and the full aider I can't even use past the ground set now.

Have also been asked if I get tired while climbing. No. Not really. Actually easier, less energy than hanging sticks and such. You can stop and just sit there in your saddle "chair" hanging out between moves. You aren't even standing or hanging on to anything, just sit there calmly and relax. Then when ready, reach down, release the stick (between the cable handle built into the top and proper placement of the tag end of the cam cleat rope it gives you nearly another foot of reach), move it up as high as you can and re-attach it to your tree. Climb up onto the top platform. Move your tether up as high as you can. Repeat.

From: JTreeman
12-Jan-22
Wow TD, thanks for all the detailed info. I’m kinda learning challenged, so I’ll need to read it a few more times, but I think I’m getting there.

Thanks, jim

From: foxbo
15-Jan-22
I've been using a Greene's Treesaddle since Dec of 04. I have the deluxe leather one and the ambush saddle, which is the one I use most often. Everything fits neatly into a Badlands Ultra-Day Pack. I use four tree steps attached to one nylon strap for my standing platform. I have a Simmons Woodpecker Drill that I use to drill 3/8" holes into the tree for the 3/8" climbing bolts. You can use the same holes all season if you climb that same tree again. The holes grow back over during the growing season and are completely closed by next fall. The pack also holds my pruners, saw, knee pads, etc. It's such a compact outfit that at times I end up still hunting an area if I don't locate a tree to climb. It's a grab and go outfit as it contains everything you need. Someone sold me a rope to attach the saddle to the tree. It's a lot easier to use than that heavy strap that came with the saddle. I carry ten climbing bolts with me, but sometimes I only use eight of them to get to the height I like to hunt. They push in and pull out pretty easy.

If you can find someone who uses the saddle and will allow you to try it out, that would be a lot better than trying to wade thru all the information out there nowadays. It's very important to get one that fits you well too. The first one I had was an extra large and it came too high up on my ribs and would not allow me to breath easily. The then owner of Trophyline Treesaddles exchanged it for a size large and that did the trick for me.

I can shoot more accurately out of my saddle than I can from my regular stands. I know it sounds crazy, but it's true for me. Plus, that Ultra Day Pack is a lot lighter and easier to carry than my lonewolf climbers, or any of my lock-on stands.

I don't know anything about these newer saddles being sold today. I'm very happy with what I have. I can tell you this, if they squeeze your hips, or make your breathing labored, something is not right. Good luck!

From: crowe
15-Jan-22
Don't rule out treehopper products. I'm running a recon two panel saddle and have no problem maintaining comfort on long sits. Mark at treehopper is awesome to deal with, and will answer questions personally. Saddle hunting is definetly a game changer, and a very useful tool in the drawer of hunting equipment. I've hunted out of a bunch of different saddles over the years and the recon is pretty much the most comfortable ive used yet. The tethrd ESS is pretty much same design.

From: TGbow
15-Jan-22
Do most of yal use knee pads when using a saddle?

From: foxbo
15-Jan-22
Knee pads? Yup. Helps a lot.

From: Leo17
16-Jan-22
I have a saddle setup, mostly for when I fly to a place and want to have system to hunt out of without having to fly with a tree stand. I also pack it in with me on back country elk hunts if I find a waterhole. If I'm hunting my place its out of a treestand.

From: SaddleReaper
17-Jan-22
I would say knee pads or a pad for your knees is not an option..... Unless you are a "leaner" 100% of the time you hunt. Meaning... your legs are always extended and knees locked out. Idk about other peeps but I like to bend my knees and frequently sit with one knee propped against the tree and one leg straight.

Oh, and the only option for knee pads, IMO, is Arcteryx Leaf Knee Caps, or the Tethrd knee pads. If budget conscientious- Trophy line or your local ACE Hardware specials are good enough too.

From: TD
20-Jan-22
x2.... Knee pads saddle hunting are a must IMO. Gives lots more options to get comfortable. I wear them spot and stalk hunts as well. Knee bones don't have near the meat on em they used to, much more comfortable on long hands and knees stalks.

My favorites are wrestling knee pads and I wear them under my pants. They also give a bit of support to the knee when hiking and packing. And being under the pants they are a bit quieter and snag less.

From: Treeline
21-Jan-22
I am definitely going to study up more on the one-stick method! An ultralight setup that I can keep in my backpack when tromping around would come in so handy in so many of the places I hunt!

21-Jan-22
Tavis, if you go that route, go ahead and plan on spending the money needed to set the stock up right and, get the safeguard too. Repelling is ‘da bomb. It takes the only potential you have to fall, totally out of the equation. By climbing with your tether attached.

From: Treeline
21-Jan-22
Currently have the wild edge steps and using the modified Cain method but would love to reduce overall weight…

From: Tracker
24-Jan-22
My first choice will always be a preset hang on. Sneak in, sneak up, hunt. I picked up a saddle to hunt some public land and also to just check out how I like a spot before setting up a permanent stand. I had all I needed to get started except the saddle which I picked up used. Guys go crazy over this style and personally I think they like climbing and fulling with this method more than hunting. Plan to take it with me this fall during my WY elk hunt.

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