I never perfected using it and missed having a solid platform. Sold it a few years later.
To this day I wonder if I should have kept it as I occasionally find trees that are perfect for the setup without any trees for my climbing stand.
I tried 3 commercial saddles over the past year: the Tethrd Mantis, and Aero Kite and Kestrel. I ended up keeping the Kite and selling the Mantis and Kestrel. Though the Mantis had some nice features I simply found the Kite most comfortable both while walking and in the tree.
Like I said, I am all in on saddles, but I would say a lot of the advantages touted by those selling them can be a bit over-stated. Par for the course with hunting gear, right?
You can shoot 360 degrees, but then again I can shoot 360 in a treestand. I guess I have some superpower to be able to? I don't know, never got that one. Shooting from the saddle takes a little practice on the weakside shots. But about 320 degrees shots are really easy. It's just that shot at about 4 o'clock that gets pretty tough.
They are fairly comfortable, but it's not sitting in a lazy boy comfort. I would still give treestands a slight advantage in comfort once in the tree. Then again a lot of folks claim back discomfort in a treestand, which again I do not experience. It took me a good dozen or so hunts and learning some tricks before I really felt comfortable in it. Before that I wasn't necessarily uncomfortable, I think I just fidgeted and shifted around more. I never did an all-day hunt this year, but I did some long sits (a couple 6 AM - 2 PM). If I was going in knowing I was going to do all day sits, I think that is one scenario I would prefer my treestand. The other is extreme weather. I think really cold conditions and rain are just a little easier to deal with in a stand.
If you do much research you'll see there are two types of saddle hunters: leaners and sitters. I am mostly a leaner. I use a platform that is a DIY but very similar to the Tethrd Predator. Generally the sitter-type saddle hunters simply use a ring of steps. To me a platform is essential for comfort and well worth the extra weight. And ring of steps definitely require more movement to shoot. But comes down to personal preference.
One disadvantage particularly us leaners face is the orientation of facing the tree. Some cite an advantage being able to hide from the deer. I pretty much say "okie dokie" to that one. I think it's a disadvantage because on some trees, you are kind of pigeonholed into facing a certain direction on the basis of lean, branches, etc. You work with what the best tree gives you and some trees just aren't that pleasant to work with. So the direction you end up facing may not always be where you expect deer to come from. And craning your neck to watch your 6 to 9 o'clock for 6 hours straight gets a little rough. With treestands, at least what I would do in that situation is just stand on the platform and watch the direction I need to. I rarely sit in a treestand, I stand most of the time. Again, it seems that is not the norm but it's what I've always done. For me that is probably the biggest downside to the saddle.
So what ultimately won the day for the saddle is the bulk reduction. Notice I said bulk, not weight. I really didn't lose much weight, because I needed a heavier backpack to carry gear, instead of just strapping everything on the treestand. You still need a way to climb the tree, and for most public land hunters that means sticks. I think some expect to end up carrying 5 pounds of gear with the saddle, and that just ain't the case.
So bulk, and ease of carrying. I ended up using a MR Popup 28 to pack everything in, and wow! This is just what blew the treestand out of the water. For going in deep it is a tremendous upgrade over toting the bulky uncomfortable treestand. That pack carries weight wonderfully, and going through brush without having a bulky treestand was awesome. That is pretty much what it boiled down to for me.
I liked it for the expense aspect of it. But I've gotten away from it. For one thing, I'm a little better off now, and can afford some extra treestands. For another thing, I'm actually cutting down on stand sites. Less stands, but in better locations. Don't bounce around so much. I don't hunt early season much any more, and most of my November sits are all day, or at least with just a small break to move.
One thing I LOVED about it was that you seem to be far better camouflaged. The way you sit and lean, it doesn't appear as a human form as much. It was amazing how much you can get away with. Even with turkeys, they seemed to think you were a limb of the tree the way you sat. I got a lot of shots at turkeys out of the thing. Way more than I get now out of a regular stand.
I got away from it mostly just due to comfort. Like I said, I like to sit all day in November, or just short breaks, and I just prefer a regular stand for those sits. I'm more comfortable. I have some latent back issues, and could just never get entirely comfortable in the saddle.
Then, it's impossible to add or subtract layers in the thing. I often walk 1/2 to a full mile into sets, and get hot doing it. I usually need to sit still for a 20-30 minutes to cool down. Then I add layers like my Fanatic bibs, and Fanatic jacket. That's impossible to do with a saddle. And I can't stand to sit at the base of the tree to cool off, add layers, put on saddle, and then climb up. I want to get to the tree and climb in and be hunting :)
When I bought it I initially thought it would be the cat's rear end for mobile hunting. It's pretty good, but really not much better than just a LW Alpha and sticks. I hunted with a buddy once, and used 4 LW sticks and the saddle, and my buddy used his LW hand climber. He beat me up. Pretty handily. And was quieter doing it too.
I prefer the LW and sticks for mobile setups now, and really, it's not a whole lot heavier than the sticks and the saddle.
I still have my saddle. I'll never sell it. But I prefer a LW Alpha and sticks currently.
As well, I don't have anything metal like a treestand or sticks pinging against or getting caught on branches as I move through the woods. Since the whole idea with hang and hunt is to scout until you find fresh sign, you need to be able to get through the woods and get setup close to deer quietly. I can do this with a saddle.
I currently have the Aerohunter Kestrel and love it. But the Kite, Predator Mantis and JX3 saddle are getting some good reviews on saddlehunter.com. Different features and benefits to each.
I would encourage you to visit the forums on saddlehunter to learn everything you want to know and more. Good bunch of guys who do a lot of DIY modifications to make our gear work better with a focus on safety.
Hope that helps.
There’s a steep learning curve learning how to use the thing.
Once you learn it, you better know how to tie all the knots because if you accidentally take off caribiner at the wrong place, your stand is now worthless.
My main complaint is that it’s uncomfortable. I could only take 2-3 hrs in the thing. You’re either standing on a precipitous base or sitting in something that’s not very comfortable that smashes your balls and puts tree bark in your face.
IdyllwildArcher will likely chime in as he just used one on his Iowa Hunt.
Did you kill a PY buck? Did I miss a hunt recap? I remember some exchanges on your behalf about the ease of such an endeavor.
Elk Yinzer and Bake already touched on some really good points. So I wont have a ton to add.
1) I do think one of the coolest advantages with a saddle that you will simply never have with a stand, is the ability to move around the tree to hide from the deer. I arrowed a doe this year from about 12' up in about a 12" diameter ash tree. She approached me head-on trying to locate me (swirling wind), she was 10 yards at one point... and even hiding behind the tree I couldn't dare draw. When she moved back out to 20 I had an opportunity to draw and then shot her at 24yds quartering away. Had I been in a hang-on or climber she would have busted me like i was a sitting duck- with not realistic opp to draw and shoot a deer that wasn't starring me down. As Bake mentioned I feel a saddle positions the body in a way that develops from the tree like a limb.... Over the years I've had many deer look up at me (not because I'm in the saddle, but usually due to wind or they caught me move etc) and seem to dismiss me as part of the tree.
2) Versatility/ mobility/ safety and stealth factors. As Elk Yinzer mentioned all the gear adds up when all said an done you're close to a LW stand in weight.... but the packability is unmatched. I wear my saddle in... no problems. All metal contact points/ buckles in my system are silenced in some way, the saddle itself is non metallic so its dead silent. Try being sneaky with a climber or stand on your back catching briars branches as you go etc.
I can climb any tree, big or small, that I can get screw-in steps into, stick ropes/straps around, or my lineman and tether rope around. The saddle doubles as a harness and stand so you eliminate the need for a stand alone harness. My ropes are handled and in my face every single hunt, so I know the condition of whats keeping me alive at all times..... How many times have we all climbed into a stand in the dark not knowing if the straps were compromised in some way?? Even if you check stands prior to season and use lifelines... that gear is sitting out there for months to weather and be chewed on by squirrels. My saddle gear only gets weathered the amount I spend in nasty weather otherwise its safe at home with me...... no squirrels can chew it and nobody can steal it :)
3) platform/ stick/ step use. Its all personal preference.... I generally hunt from the top of a Muddy Pro or LW stick and a few Cranford T-steps either side. Have pulled many all day sits from this type of "platform". The Tethrd Predator Platform in my picture is new... and I don't use it much. For an all day sit, now that I own it, I would use it. Then again I'm light weight sub 160lbs and fairly athletic build. I actually bought my saddle when I was in high school because of a stress fracture in my L5. I've never experienced back pain while in my saddle.... its is more comfortable for me than sitting on a cheap treestand seat even for a few hours. And like already mentioned I too was a stander.... rarely staying seated when hunting from a hang on. Arguably nothing would be more comfy than a plush lazy boy padded like climber though.
Couple other things to note about saddles....
Saddles may require a different mindset (depending on how you utilize them). For example; as mentioned before, they can be used so you don't have to buy 30 treestands for a property. In that case you could pre-prep trees as you would for any treestand prior to season. Leave steps or sticks in trees.... go climb and hunt. Save a bunch of money. Or treat the saddle like a climber in that you go in with it, and you leave with it (all the tree gear). In that case you'll always have to plan on a little more time to set up and take down after your hunt. I generally do this... and with my system can be set up and hunting in 6-10 minutes. Faster if I'm not worried about noise and movement. I've set sticks and climbed up to full height to set my tree tether and pulled up my bow - all with deer in range bedded.... but i had to move like a sloth.
As far as saddle comfort... I could and have slept in mine. It has cost me deer haha! I sold my Mantis because it just seemed TOO minimalistic in design to be comfortable for a few hour sit, had a number of design flaws IMO regarding functionality, and lacked structure which I prefer to handle the weight of side pouches and hanging sticks from the waist while climbing. I feel the original TrophyLine is best for me... and my system is tailored in a way that the slight disadvantage a TL has due to bulk/ structure over say Aero hunter or Mantis saddle, is actually advantageous when it comes to gear management.
Shooting from a saddle and using a saddle in general takes some getting used to. There's a weird feeling at first hanging away from the tree, and manipulating your body around to shoot, but that quickly diminishes with experience. Off side shots are a bit tricky as mentioned... but with practice theres no where a deer can go near my tree that they are safe. Unless branches limit my movement. Some might say using a saddle requires you to be physically fit as well.... I would agree to a very minimal extent. You are in theory going to be hanging sticks and doing that sort of thing each time, so if you're a lumbering clutz... a saddle is probably not safe for you.
Saddles allow you to reach to prune as Single Bevel mentioned. I've used my full body length extended horizontally to reach branches on nearby trees to prune with a hand saw..... But the down side with the saddle and branches is that you will need a clear "swing radius" about the hunting position so as you rotate, if you plan to, branches are cleared way from catching your back/ butt.
Lastly I would add if you think you can just buy a saddle (with stock accessories) and it will be good to go, this is sometimes true, but you will likely find it turns into an addiction of modifying things to suit your style. From the climbing gear, tree tether and attachment gear, ropes, ascenders, carabiners, pouches/ accessories, all saddle hunters tend to "mod". So my saddle system and gear might total $600, but my overall investment is lower than a bunch of treestands, and once my saddle system is dialed its all i'll ever need to hunt nearly any situation, and be reactive throughout the season to changing deer patterns.
Hope this helps!
for about the 10th time, I never said killing a P&Y buck on public land was easy. What I said was that a lot of guys make white tail hunting out to be more difficult than it really is and I still believe that. In fact, having just come off a 2 week solo Dall sheep hunt and a 2 week solo WT hunt, I believe it more than ever. If you want a link to the thread, I'll go back and look it up.
My buck is on the meat pole if you want to see it. A public land 3 year old 8 point that I don't think will make the book, but I'm happy with him.
Do you guys know of a company that makes aluminum screw in steps?
Crankn, short answer is no, totally different weight distribution. The best free/cheap approximation search "DIY fleece saddle". I did one in less than 10 minutes before ever buying the Kestrel, and it is actually pretty comfortable.
Another advantage is unlike the normal stand, especially climbers...... there are very few trees you CAN'T set up in.
As stated there is a learning curve on not only use but hunt set up, angles are different, tether heights vary, etc. If you are just trying one out right out of the gate you probably won't like it right away. It takes time to get used to it, comfortable with it. If you aren't very..... spry shall we say, you probably are going to be better off with a regular stand.
KEY is the platform..... where your feet are...... more so than what saddle you use. Foot position is critical in relation to the anchor/tether line. Nearly all our sites are permanent, using mostly a combination of existing limbs and lag bolts. If you can't use lags or pins then some other platform must be used. I haven't used many commercial ones but the wild edge steps work really well for places you can't or haven't been able to do any pins. Again, they take some practice to use too. Another necessity IMO is knee pads. You can adjust into so many more comfortable positions with some knee pads.
Practice setting up and shooting in trees in your back yard first. It's really fairly easy to shoot from. In fact if I'm set up right I can use a strap from the saddle as a "rest" against my bow arm and the bow holds super steady. If you've ever used a rest on the practice range you know what I mean. You can really "lean" out and into the shot with great support and no worry of a misstep or falling off the stand.
Just looking to add another tool in the toolbox. I kind of got bit by the public land whitetail bug this year. New challenges are always good. Thanks for all the great responses!
The only issue I had was tender feet ! My feet could only stand so long on those screw in steps :-)
The platforms shown in some of the above posts look ideal for using a T-S.
What say you guys about spurs?
Spurs are great but 95% of my hunting is public land where they aren't allowed so sticks it is.
I tried Wild Edge Stepps and was not a fan, at all. They work great for some like ole nifty PeteK and his genious knaider system, but I don't have enough squirrel genes apparently. I've always been a wuss about heights and those things flat out scared the piss out of me.
I can just use my rc harness during the offseason for scouting. I sewed my linemans loops to the harness so the sitdrag stays home when I go out in the summer to set up trees.
My bridge is amsteel, which I spliced. My tether and linemans are 11mm double braid, which I also spliced. Eliminating knots really helps to keep bulk down.
It is a very effective setup.
The pic above shows the tree I had to climb this morning. You can't tell from the pic but the tree at my feet is only about 6 inches in diameter and kind of oblong in shape. Would not have been fun with my climber. Nice and comfy with the saddle setup and I could maneuver all the way around the tree. Pete
I first started saddles in my mid 50's and I really wasn't crazy about my rig either. Fast FWD to last year (I was 60) and, with the help from the great guys over at the Saddlehunter forum, I dialed-in a lot of tiny details that seemed insignificant, but they were not insignificant. That's the thing about saddles...they aren't plug and play for most guys. They do take some real effort to experiment with all the different details. And also understand, one detail may effect several other details. If a guy wants to get into saddle hunting, they really need to start working with the gear RIGHT NOW. Don't wait until the end of July and order stuff, then end up waiting another 6 or 8 weeks to get the initial orders, then deciding you need Ropeman and wait more weeks for those. By the time you get what you need, and practice your system, hunting season has begun. Meanwhile, you've become skeptical, impatient, and frustrated. RIGHT NOW is preseason. By mid summer, a guy should have his rig dialed-in. Once that happens, you will wonder why you didn't saddle sooner.
I used sticks in NC but have been using the SRT method in Hawaii. The weight savings of SRT is a big deal and it's an extremely safe way to ascend and descend a tree.
No regrets here. I look forward to incorporating my treehopper hand drill and bolts this year too.
Midwest another tip I would give you, is bring your sticks up from the back side, again nothing seen, as your best guess on deer movement
so to link this up, the beauty of the saddle is the ability to swing around, again to use the tree for as much cover as you want.....
as a 70 year old hunter, I gave my experience on the Wis forum. my instructor was 30 and we used a large beam pole inside our barn, to hook up and test out. I was impressed, and it does take a learning curve. unlike some u tube stuff, he does not like a pursic knot, he is an arborist, and uses the ropeman a 50.00 add on
it is an investment, and you need to spend a lot of time with it, if I was younger probably would use the system..........
Shug..... I'd guess that saddle is over 30 years old? I think Green's morphed into Trophyline?.... Trophyline has been gone for some time now.... I still use my Trophyline mesh saddle 3 or 4 times a month though....
I’ve taken some good deer from some knarly trees that I had to prune as I went up but to me nothing is safer and they are pretty dang effective if you use some creativity