My issue, is that while I love the light weight aspect of the saddle, it seems like it requires more of a learning curve and ultimately like it's almost more a style of hunting, thus more to learn compared to just using a light weight fixed stand and sticks (Which I used to use a lot, and once in a while still use - just not a light "mobile hunting option" like LW or similar).
I have a few bud's with saddles I've been trying to connect with to try them - I bet at least one see's this as chastises me ha ha ha! My schedule just has not made it work, and with the season starting Monday in CT and here in MA in about 5 weeks, I'm just not sure I could adapt to and acclimate to the saddle hunting style.
So... I'd love to hear from those of you who have used the lighter weight hang on's like LW with sticks, who have also hunted out of a saddle.
How'd you feel about the learning curve with the saddle? Did you feel safe/comfortable in the saddle? Do you feel like, at times, you wish you were still using the fixed stand OR the saddle more, if you moved from one to the other?
Appreciate any thoughts... I'm wrestling to much with this!
I also have a few lone wolf assassin platforms.
I think maybe it is a large learning curve for people that are used to hunting pre-hung stands every sit, to going mobile. THAT is a far bigger learning curve than mobile hunting with a stand to mobile hunting with a saddle. Reasons I went to a saddle was mainly for being able to hide from the deer in small poplars, and shootability. Being able to shoot 420 degrees vs 270. I had absolutely no issues shooting out of it in all the weird angles with compound or recurve. Accuracy no problem. I still need to carry 3 LW sticks with me, but the difference is the stand is way smaller going in as I bought the Tethrd predator platform. So I downsized on the platform like crazy. On Saturday I went in to hunt and because of the wind and bedding areas had to "bushwhack" 160 yards through bush. I was able to do it very silently as there was no wind to hide the sounds thanks to my "stand and sticks" being a very thin profile behind my back. A regular stand I would have sounded like I was swinging a golf club going through the bush.
It was an EXTREMELY quiet night with zero wind. I mean zero. In that situation I might give the edge to a regular hang on for sound as far as movement to make a shot. Although the noisiest part of the whole cycle would still be the drawing motion which needs to happen in either scenario. I had several deer come by that I felt would have busted me in a hang on, but I was able to be on the backside of a smaller tree so I didn't get busted.
Now I am also in the "learning curve" time frame of the saddle but I definitely see some advantages. One thing though is I shied away from trees with a ton of branches thinking I need to swing freely, that I would have had no problems hanging in with a hang on. I presume as I get more comfortable with the saddle I will learn where the limitations are that way. If I was to go hang in a pine with a lot of branches my preference (today) would be a hang on. But that may change as I become more comfortable with the saddle.
Hope my experience helps you. One thing is nice, is I never wear a harness on a hang and hunt, but now I am strapped in with the saddle. So that is a plus as well. Ask me in November again and I'll have more of an update for you. In a nut shell I think the hard part for people is getting used to hanging in the dark or spur of the moment vs pre-set areas if I had to guess. I found the saddle itself very easy.
They're so uncomfortable after a few hours. I like to do all-day sits and it's just not possible in one - at least for me.
Ike, is it the saddle proper - IE, the glutes and upper hammy's sitting in there for a long time... or say your back/knees/feet etc due to balancing or bracing?
APauls, interesting stuff... You are making me feel like waiting a while and just shooting you a PM in about 6 weeks. Seriously. I mean, as much as I like the addition of a lighter hang on or saddle to my arsenal, I've got over a decade of using a climber and a lot of hang on time prior, so if I go a little longer without this option in the arsenal, Ill be ok. The biggest reason to do this, for me, is to be able to hang and hunt in branchy trees. It's frustrating to hike in a mile, and there are no safe trees, or trees I can use (due to branches etc) with the climber. I may just stay patient here after reading your comments and as noted, circle back and see how you're liking it in a bit...
GED - I didnt realize you used a saddle - or completely forgot. Did you go to saddlepalooza that Peterk put on last or this year? Did you use LW stands prior to the saddle? How do you feel in the saddle in branchy trees, like a hemlock, pine, spruce, larch, or an old scragly maple or oak etc...?
Keep the ideas coming folks, they are much appreciated!
I hunt hill country along the Mississippi River, for me its not how high you are, but how you set up... I use a 6lb hang on and one stick, and at 6 feet tall, that takes me about 10 feet for what I need in my area...
the point is all areas are different, no one system works for all, so you have to adapt to your area,,,, its not rocket science,,,,, most TV hunting is so different, even with myself as a private land owner, with the average real life hunter, that is most of a waste of time to watch....
adapt your system, to where you hunt, not how I hunt, or others, but where you hunt
truth be known, a lot of areas need no tree stands. just get at it
Those guys over at tethrd are great people, doing a huge service to the market, but they missed a very important mark with the mantis - in my (experienced) opinion. They made the mantis too small for the advertised size ranges, and too minimalistic to the point at which weight distribution and ultimately comfort are hindered. They made it how it suited them - not the masses. I bet you anything the next saddle they produce wont be lighter..... because they'll have to address the comfort issues.
Sure the mantis leads in being the most packable, the lightest, and the smallest.... but why on earth would you sacrifice a few ounces of material for those attributes whilst sacrificing comfort. The tethrd leg humpers/ pro staff will swear each user needs to try playing with tether height, length, and bridge to find what suits the users style- but in reality the saddle simply isn't designed in a way that lends itself to being comfortable for long duration's (2+ hours). Don't believe me? Try a Trophy Line... Try a Kestrel flex.
The difference is night and day. A kestrel flex blows a mantis out of the water. It has far more support and structure to distribute the load/ pressure better. The waist line's molle and straps provide better structure for hanging loaded pouches off of, or sticks, and its all around build quality is just more robust.
A (well designed) saddle will be extremely comfortable and supportive, take it from me, I've got a stress fracture in my L5 vertebrae. A saddle in general is superior to a hang on with climbing sticks when it comes to versatility, no contest. It takes some getting used to for sure, but once you're used to a saddle you can dial it to suit your hunting style. A hang on and sticks will always have more limitations, and disadvantages no matter how you spin it, and there is very little you can modify from the original design.
"They squeeze your balls" well mine sure doesn't and my balls are bigger than your balls. JK, but in all honesty sounds like you've either got a crappy saddle or a crappy fitting saddle. One of the reasons I bought the one I did was because of the different adjustment options. I felt like I'd have the best chance of a good fit buying this saddle
"Try 12 hours in it and tell me what you think". Well obviously I haven't yet. I do generally do all day sits in the fall so I am sure that time will come. So far I've done 3 hours with no prob whatsoever. A HUGE thing as well, is what are guys using to rest their feet? My platform is a mini stand so to speak, so if I want to I am able to stand normally for a bit if I feel so inclined. Like TODDY, there are many people that actually enjoy very long sits in the saddle. I know several guys prefer the comfort to a tree stand. So there is a large variability in making it fit you.
Like JTV, I've used a LW hang on and sticks for many years and it's a darn good system. I can do it in my sleep as well, and if there is wind I can be ready to hunt in 12 minutes from reaching the tree. If it's dead quiet it takes longer as movements need to be so slow. If I knew I was going to a thick pine with a ton of branches I would go with my hang on and no steps. Just use the branches.
I also didn't go to a saddle thinking it was my new "cure all solution." My expectation, is that with a few sits it would becomes my early season set up until I sit all day. I didn't want to expect to move EVERYTHING over to saddle hunting. How will it be with a ton of clothing? Not sure yet. But what I can say is this: So far, I would imagine it will take over the majority of my hunting for these reasons AND in this order: I can hide from deer better, I can shoot to more places, it is less to pack in. Personally I could care less about the extra 10 pounds to carry an alpha in vs the predator platform, because that is about the weight difference on the setup. But large trees where a person can really hide are few and far between here, and staying hidden is a real concern.
I did all day sits in mine, and it was not comfortable at all for me. Latent back issues gave me a lot of muscle spasms and muscle tightness using a saddle, some of which I still deal with in a regular hang on as well.
The good news is they are light, and you look more a part of a tree. Doesn't matter so much with deer I don't think (at least where I hunt), but made a difference with predators and turkeys picking me off.
The main learning curve I see is set up. Most folks setting up still use a stand mentality as too position, they set up too much "in front" like they would with a stand. Movement? You're not stuck out like a sore thumb, you're part of the tree, basically hiding behind the tree. And if set up and prepped right you can shoot from near 360. If it's too uncomfortable you aren't wearing it or it isn't adjusted right. I fall asleep in mine all the time. I have the old school Trophyline(?) mesh seat that hasn't been made for a good number of years. Only real adjustments on the saddle itself is it's size, small medium and large. My buddy has an Aero Hunter with dozens more adjustments. Bridge is adjustable as well as the tether, legs, waist, etc.
By far the most important aspect IMO is your platform for your feet. A tree with lots of limbs really helps and makes it easy. You may only need a screw in step or two. I also like and use the Wild Edge steps a good deal for platforms, they work well. Knee pads can help too. Not just the right size saddle and adjusted correctly is important, but the right height to tie off on each tree makes a huge difference, is it leaning to you? Away from you? I have Lone Wolf sticks and use them now and then, but normally a few screw in pins and the right limbs and we can get up in most of our trees. Allready to go, hard part is finding them in the dark.... Half of them, you'd be hard pressed to put a stand in, they are not remotely straight/vertical. Very few trees cannot be "saddled".....
It's not for everyone. They are certainly a bit more "physical" but I'm in my 60's.... it's not too bad. They aren't perfect..... as stands are not either.... I'm not hunting in zero degree temps. (likely won't either..... ever) I can do 4 or 5 hours in my sleep (literally) I can't imagine sitting in one place for 12-14 hours a day can be "comfortable" in anything,.... mentally or physically. Hard enough in a recliner in front of a tv. =D
If interested, what they said above. Go check out the Saddlehunter forums and do your research from guys who use them all the time. This is like listening to a bunch of Trad shooters tell you how to tune and shoot your compound..... heheheheh.....
I like the simplicity of hiking in with less, but because I come from a stand hunting background, setting up a fixed stand off sticks feels simpler in function. That may not be the case.
The biggest thing I'm taking so far is that it's ok to be patient in this choice, that it's likely a love or hate deal - not a situation with a lot of middle ground, that both systems can work - so this is really a decision of which system do I like better... And that Ike may have smaller berries than Apauls. Hopefully they dont do a photo contest for us on that though... We will just take your words there guys ha ha ha!
And, hands down...there is no better harness system for actually setting hang on stands. After hanging one conventional stand while wearing a saddle, you will throw your linemans belt/harness in the garbage where it belongs.
For climbing method, I've used SRT, bolts and drill, and sticks. They all work great but I find myself using SRT more than anything else at the moment. Ultra light, simple and safe.
Not everything is a pissing match bud. There is a place for all types of equipment. And, they all have their pluses and minuses. No one asked you to change anything. Do you and let people do them.
And for what it's worth, most of my saddle hunts last season I used LW sticks but a saddle instead of a stand. Really doesn't matter how you get to hunting height and sticks are a great public land option. Not as safe as some other methods but great none the less.
WV Mountaineer's Link
JTV-Please enlighten the forum at least once more. We're not really sure where you stand.
Never used a saddle so cannot help you there.
I am 60, and in decent shape, mostly round...lol.
I have both LW and XOP sticks and stands. Like JTV, I hang most hunts. I like the XOP sticks better as the step pads are slightly longer.
I echo what Jeff says about the benefits of a stand, but I will just say it one time;)
My biggest/only concern is when it's right about daybreak and I get that 1st dreadful "gurgle" from way down in my bowels... you know that literal "oh shit" moment!! That frickin happens way way too much! :-(
Sincerely, Turd from Above
I hear ya!
I believe all my saddle hunts will be afternoon affairs since that is usually after "business" hours.
The Brown Bomber
I've hurried down the tree way too many times to take care of business. I'd much rather quickly descend the tree and take care of business at ground level...John Eberhart swears you can safely take care of business at 30 feet from a saddle, I've never had the pleasure. I always feel like the spot is ruined if I can't perform a proper burial.
I absolutely love the Predator. I have 3 of them. I don't always take it down each time if I think I may want to return to that tree within a few days, but I didn't want to leave my one and only predator in the tree so I bought 2 more. I do put 1 Ameristep on the strap on my strong side. My weak side is the top step of my climbing system...usually a bolt. For short hunts, tree step platforms are okay but it takes 2 or 3 of them to accomplish what one predator (plus a step) can do and I can stay in the tree from dawn till dark with a Kestrel and a predator. This will be my 50th season. I've spent many thousands of hour in hang on stands during those years. I'm not a greenhorn. I can say without a doubt that my current set up is by far, the safest, the most comfortable, and the most effective method I've ever used. I will never hunt another way.
Only you can figure out if it is for you. I started using a saddle at age 51. I sit in it and stand/lean with it. I have done all day sits. I have fallen asleep in it. I find it way more comfortable than a hang on. My movements are much more subtle and quieter than a hang on. I am much safer in my saddle than a hang on. I shot a deer last year out of one. I like it a lot.
The learning curve is one day. Really the only thing you need to get used to is leaning out. It is a bit weird, but after a half hour you get used to it and realize you are just locked in. You will spend more time figuring out the most effective way to climb. Your setup is so light that you will insist on doing the same for getting up a tree. Five wild edge steps for me get me over twenty feet and provide two steps for my platform. Pete