Mathews Inc.
I don't get saddle hunting.
Whitetail Deer
Contributors to this thread:
Starfire 01-Mar-24
WV Mountaineer 01-Mar-24
APauls 01-Mar-24
Shiloh 01-Mar-24
TGbow 01-Mar-24
elkmtngear 01-Mar-24
Will 01-Mar-24
Starfire 01-Mar-24
elkmtngear 01-Mar-24
Scoot 01-Mar-24
JTreeman 01-Mar-24
Blood 01-Mar-24
Will 01-Mar-24
SlipShot 01-Mar-24
APauls 01-Mar-24
Jebediah 01-Mar-24
Bowbender 01-Mar-24
Jebediah 01-Mar-24
Starfire 01-Mar-24
WV Mountaineer 01-Mar-24
Jebediah 01-Mar-24
WV Mountaineer 01-Mar-24
Will 02-Mar-24
Franzen 02-Mar-24
midwest 02-Mar-24
Charlie Rehor 02-Mar-24
Cheesehead Mike 02-Mar-24
Bowbender 02-Mar-24
air leak 02-Mar-24
Lee 03-Mar-24
Scott/IL 03-Mar-24
IdyllwildArcher 03-Mar-24
Jimmyjumpup 04-Mar-24
BC 04-Mar-24
APauls 04-Mar-24
Lee 04-Mar-24
Beendare 04-Mar-24
Starfire 04-Mar-24
Cheesehead Mike 04-Mar-24
Michael 04-Mar-24
Blood 04-Mar-24
2Wild Bill 04-Mar-24
WV Mountaineer 04-Mar-24
SaddleReaper 04-Mar-24
SaddleReaper 04-Mar-24
Mint 04-Mar-24
Bowbender 04-Mar-24
APauls 04-Mar-24
Blood 04-Mar-24
SaddleReaper 04-Mar-24
Lee 04-Mar-24
WV Mountaineer 04-Mar-24
Blood 04-Mar-24
WV Mountaineer 04-Mar-24
12yards 05-Mar-24
APauls 05-Mar-24
JTreeman 05-Mar-24
Beendare 05-Mar-24
Bowbender 05-Mar-24
Blood 05-Mar-24
APauls 05-Mar-24
Jebediah 05-Mar-24
APauls 05-Mar-24
KHNC 05-Mar-24
Cheesehead Mike 06-Mar-24
midwest 06-Mar-24
From: Starfire
01-Mar-24
Just watched a video on a new saddle hunting platform and compact two step sticks. Seems like a lot of money, work and effort for a hunt that only a young fit person can pull off. When I was young and fit we hauled all steel screaming eagle stand into the woods and hunted all day. I just cant see how it could beat a lightweight setup like a Lone Wolf.

01-Mar-24
It’s ’da Bomb. As far as work, it’s climbing a tree. Which on a stick is pretty easy to do. It requires less physical effort than any other climbing method. It’s safer. It’s lighter. It’s more compact. And, you hide from the deer.

You don’t get it because you’ve talked yourself out of trying it. Try it. You’ll see.

From: APauls
01-Mar-24
I started doing it so that I could hide behind the tree. We have primarily poplar trees here and many are only 8" diameter trees, so any and all break up helps. Then fell in love over time with how easy it is to set up, how quick and quiet it is to set up, less effort spent setting up, increased shootability vs a tree stand, and increased cover vs a tree stand.

The base line assumption is that this is compared to setting up a LW every sit which is what I was doing for 15 years prior to this.

From: Shiloh
01-Mar-24
Agree with APauls and WVM. In my 3rd year saddle hunting.

From: TGbow
01-Mar-24
I liked the idea but I found it uncomfortable but that's because of a physical issue I have.

From: elkmtngear
01-Mar-24

elkmtngear's embedded Photo
elkmtngear's embedded Photo
I can fit everything I need to saddle, in a compact daypack, that weighs about 12 pounds.

It actually made it possible for me to take to the trees, on my Wyoming elk hunts the last 2 Seasons (going in a couple miles).

4 Primal V-Steps with a 5-Step Aider, gets me 22 feet up any tree.

From: Will
01-Mar-24
WV and Apauls, I agree. The saddle is a great system.

I think at some point I may use a climber or fixed/mobile stand again in a specific situation, but that hasn't occurred for the 4-ish years I've used the saddle now.

It does, I think, have a learning curve. But with a little practice it's not harder than a mobile stand and sticks, that's for sure.

And that hide behind the tree thing Apauls noted - it's awesome!

From: Starfire
01-Mar-24
I never tried saddle hunting because I tried sitting in one at a sport show. I couldn't do it for five minutes, so I can't imagine going for my normal four hour sit. I guess my question is for those that are committed to it, how long can you sit? Is it just for short sits? going deep? I do think the saddle would be less visible to the deer.

From: elkmtngear
01-Mar-24
I'm 62, and I've done 5+ hour sits many times.

I use a Bod Harness, with a Sit-drag attached. Lightweight, and comfy, like a hammock for my butt!

From: Scoot
01-Mar-24
I've never done a saddle setup, but I know plenty who do and most find it much MORE comfortable than LWs or ladder stands. I keep saying I'm going to give it a try, but haven't done so yet.

From: JTreeman
01-Mar-24
Same as Scoot. I keep saying I’m gonna and still haven’t.

Part of my problem is initial cost. I’m a buy once cry once kind of guy, and to buy once what I want it’s gonna make me cry for a while!

Maybe this is the year through…

—Jim

From: Blood
01-Mar-24
Starfire, you stand/lean the majority of the time. If you have an exact spot you know a deer will come from, it’s a cool setup, because you have one spot to draw and shoot. If deer can come from anywhere….and you don’t see them until they are 40-50 yards away, it’s EXTREMELY tough to swivel into position for a shot when a deer is close because you do quite bit of moving your whole body around the tree.

I found myself moving so much more than when in a regular tree stand. Constantly fidgeting shifting and moving my feet and pivoting my head around. It’s much easier for a deer to pick you off. It’s just another tool you can use.

Definitely takes me longer to set up and get down than my climber.

From: Will
01-Mar-24
Starfire. It's just due to the hours I can commit to hunting, but most of my sits are 2-3 hours with occasional 4-5 hr sits. The longer ones are ok. My summit may be a little more comfy. But if you use the little strap which goes around your back for extra support, and lower your position so you are "sitting" the saddle is pretty dang close in comfort to my old Summit, and the more comfortable fixed stands I've used.

My experience with the saddle, is that it takes tinkering to find the style of use that feels best to each hunter. There may be similarities... But the individuality of saddle use, I think, is more than you see with a "stand". So it takes a little time to play with it, and find the way you like to hunt with it most.

I'm a slow adopter... The year I started with it, I began tinkering in March, and thought I "had it down" by my first hunt with it in Sept. But by November that year I'd changed aiders I wanted to use and started using a second bridge/tether (because I'm a nervous nelly when off the ground), as well as buying and starting to use a "back strap" for back support. Now I've been pretty much doing the same thing since. But it took me 8-9 months to feel like I'm dialed in.

Most dont take that long.

The point - the best advice I got, was that if I was going to try it, to totally commit for a full season. If I didnt like it or find my system with it in that time frame, stick to stands. The hunter who told me that was correct, and my poor climber just sits on the hook in the garage now...

From: SlipShot
01-Mar-24
I'm 54 and I frequently use a saddle when hunting elk and bear. It's compact and light enough for me to carry even on multi-day trips, although I don't embark on many of those. However, I often carry it when exploring new areas or engaging in a 'run and gun' approach. I'm quite proficient at setting it up quickly and quietly. When I come across a wallow or a promising crossing area, I swiftly climb into a tree. This strategy gives me an advantage because elk don't look in the trees, whether they are above to below you, they will look straight through you if you are not moving. Although I still have some traditional tree stands, I've love having a saddle—it's a valuable addition to my hunting gear

From: APauls
01-Mar-24
JTreeman. 2years into the game I'm not sure of any saddle guys that are using what they started with. So it's even worse than buy once cry once! I think just because the fit is so individualistic. You have no idea what will work before you try. I think I've got it perfect now on my 3rd saddle. Costs a few bucks each time to buy and sell. One thing I think to realize though, is that just because someone is selling a saddle, doesn't mean it sucks. It's just not right for them. There's a lot of swapping going on.

From: Jebediah
01-Mar-24
I’ve said it on here before—if you’ve got balance issues, the saddle is your best friend. Also, I am neither young nor fit, and it’s quite doable. I’m sure my climbing is slower and my acrobatics (much) more limited than most, but it works.

From: Bowbender
01-Mar-24
"And, you hide from the deer."

Right. Hanging out from a tree and a 20 degree angle. I have a Loc On Black Lightening. That plus 3 Lone Wolf Sticks gets me in ANY tree I want. Weight? A little over 10lbs. I AM in cover, not hanging out. I can sit, stand, pivot almost 360 degrees to shoot, I can even take a piss.

If you need to commit to using one for a season to see if you like it.... My Loggy climber I loved the first time I used it. Summit, to damn heavy. Lone Wolf, I liked but not enough to get over the "sponginess" of the belt. Those were within the first couple of times of using it. Not wasting a season "getting used" to something. Like scotch. It's an acquired taste. If you have to acquire a taste for something it tastes like sh!t.

To each their own, but I see saddles as a solution to a problem that didn't exist. Does seem to be popular with the hip IPA crowd, though.

From: Jebediah
01-Mar-24
Another advantage of saddles is that they can be customized. For example, you can add fringe, glitter, etc, to truly reflect your personality. Mine is spectacular.

From: Starfire
01-Mar-24
Glitter?

01-Mar-24
I’ve done long sets in one. I’m very comfortable in mine. I wouldn’t recommend the first time in one you try to do all day sets. Unless you practice enough to know how to get and stay comfortable.

For every uncomfortable spot you might find after a couple hours? There’s something you can do to eliminate it. It’s hard to set it up for hours preseason.

So, get one. Get your climbing method. Don’t be afraid to one stick. It’s easy. I promise. I’d recommend repelling out of the tree. It’s fun, easy, and the safest way to descend. Aiders can be tough to get into in the dark.

Practice a couple times setting it up in a tree, then hunt. By the third or fourth hang, you’ll have learned enough to set comfortably for a long time. All day is completely and not taxing to do. I even stand up on my one stick, turn around like using a conventional stand, and let it fly when the urge hits.

I get that it isn’t for everybody. But, moving around in a tree isn’t hard. The tree blocks a lot of it if you know the deer is there. And, you set it up for a preferred shot but, have all the capability to shoot off your weak side. Very accurately.

It’s like any other stand in if you are doing something you shouldn’t be doing and aren’t aware of the animal. It’s going to become aware of you if you decide to swing around the tree. However, if you are paying attention and get the drop on an animal, the tree is your best friend.

It’s not cheap for the unknown. But, you can be in a good rig complete, ready to climb and repel, for $450-$500.

From: Jebediah
01-Mar-24
Fair enough, you don’t want to go overboard on the glitter, eventually you’re going to stick out like a sore thumb in the woods.

01-Mar-24
I like it!!!

From: Will
02-Mar-24
You all need to understand Jeb is in the top 5 funniest people you could meet. The dude can make anything light hearted and hilarious!

BowBender... The hiding thing is due to being able to keep the tree trunk between you and the deer. I dont disagree - those old loc on stands are super and work well. Just wasnt sure if you were clear on the hiding behind the tree thing in the saddle.

From: Franzen
02-Mar-24
I do like my IPAs... but also think the saddle is a solution to a problem that doesn't exist. Crap, what a conundrum. Having said that, I'm not a hang-and-hunt every outing person, but I could see where the appeal might be if you are. Long ago, when I used to drink a lot more, I used to drink crap beer too.

From: midwest
02-Mar-24
It's just another tool. Even if you only hunt from a regular treestand, wearing a saddle for your safety harness give you the option to lean out and shoot behind your tree.

I'm not a fan of the little platforms. Much prefer the one I made and the Mission platform by Trophyline. I can stand and lean against the tree if I want and I can easily pivot around to shoot my weak side with less movement, keeping a smaller profile by being against the tree. If you are facing the tree on a little platform and need to move your bow from one side to the other, it requires a lot of movement to turn the bow sideways, lift it up over your tether, careful not to knock your arrow off on something, then set up for a shot. All this plus you are leaning out from the tree creating a larger profile for the deer to pick off.

02-Mar-24
Young man’s tool. I live on hang ons

02-Mar-24
I added a saddle to my arsenal last season. I will add that I don't exactly love it and I also feel that it's a solution to a non-existent problem.

I think the saddle proponents way overstate the supposed ability to shoot 360° out of a saddle. Whenever they do comparisons to a hang-on stand or a climber they imply that you can only shoot with your back against the tree and therefore you can only shoot the 180° in front of you at best. That is completely ridiculous and I have shot numerous deer out of stands by standing and turning and I can cover nearly 360°. The only blind spot is directly behind the tree.

I also find that in the saddle it's much more difficult and it takes much more movement to maneuver into an off side shot. Comparatively speaking, in a normal stand all you have to do is stand up and turn, there's no tether or bridge to fight with or maneuver around. I used mine some this year while rifle hunting and there was a situation where I was trying to get on a deer and scope it. As I turned my body into the tether it bound me up to the point that I couldn't get on deer and I would have had to totally reposition by rotating under my tether or something. That would have never happened out of a conventional stand.

Other disadvantages for me are that I don't like how it bunches up my cold weather clothing and makes it difficult to sit with my hands in my pockets and it's difficult to add or remove clothing layers. Also, I may need to turn the draw weight down on my bow, but I've found it difficult to draw my bow in some positions out of a saddle. I've never experienced that in a conventional stand. One more thing, I'm 100% comfortable with heights but there's something about hanging from and 100% trusting a couple ropes with your life that haven't quite gotten used to.

For me getting setup in the tree with a saddle is nowhere near as fast as I can do it with my LW climber. Also, I have a great system for climbing trees using sticks and aiders and hang on stand. For me I don't see any measurable time savings with a saddle and mini platform vs a regular hang on stand. A saddle is an additional tool but I don't see it ever totally replacing my climber or hang on stands.

From: Bowbender
02-Mar-24
"The hiding thing is due to being able to keep the tree trunk between you and the deer."

I can pretty much do that in any tree I've hung a stand in. My favorite was a beech tree. Got up about 16' trimmed out one branch to place my stand, the deer never knew I was there. Including one buck that required me to rotate about 300 degrees. Thought he was coming to my left, turned and went to my right. To top it off, the tag end of my safetyline was hung up on my broadhead. The heavy six never saw the guy having what basically looked like a seizure getting into position. Even when the arrow hit.

From: air leak
02-Mar-24
I'm 67, the saddle has too many moving parts for me.

I'll stay with my ladders and Summit Viper.

For the guys that use a saddle, good for you.

From: Lee
03-Mar-24
I use both. I will say I find myself grabbing my saddle more often than my lone wolf. It is comfortable, easy to set up and super quiet slipping through the thick stuff.

Lee

From: Scott/IL
03-Mar-24
I’ve been using one for ~5 years now. I’m a fan, but it’s just another tool at the end of the day.

A couple things where it shines for me over my mobile treestand setup:

- Profile while walking in and out. My area is choked full of bush honeysuckle. When carrying in a stand, I was constantly fighting it getting snagged on the branches and thus making all kinds of noise. The saddle platform and sticks packed onto a pack make this almost a none issue.

- I feel more comfortable hunting out of small diameter trees. By hiding behind the tree, I still have some concealment in places where there are no larger trees.

- It’s just lighter and easier to carry. My Lone Wolf isn’t heavy, but the saddle setup is lighter. Long walks in and out on my pack, throwing it in a kayak to paddle in, taking a cruise on an ebike, whatever the case may be, it’s more enjoyable packing in and out.

As far as comfort is concerned, I do prefer a hang on. But when I do go with the hang on, I’ll use my saddle as a harness and often times still lean but with the advantage of being able to sit down.

03-Mar-24
I'm in love with the idea and bought one several years back and just could never get used to it. I ended up screwing up the knots and it's been in the bag for years since.

I have a neck issue and my head needs to be forward of my body, so I found I had to keep weight on my feet far too much for my liking as I like to sit all day or for at least 4 hours at a time.

I really wanted to make the switch because of the weight and ease of getting around with the system, so I feel I gave it a good go, but I just couldn't get used to it.

From: Jimmyjumpup
04-Mar-24
Brushed in 10 foot high ladder stands for this ole man. Climb right up and sit down.

From: BC
04-Mar-24
I’ll take a fixed stand any day. Comfortable, quiet, easy to get in and out. Maybe if I were thirty years younger but that ship has sailed.

From: APauls
04-Mar-24
I own no stock in any saddle company nor do any of my friends. So I couldn't give a rip if a single person does it. I only share my experience in case it helps another.

From a macro perspective it's interesting to hear people say they're useless or solution to a problem that doesn't exist, because if that were the case their sales would resemble that of the acorn cruncher or butt-out tool instead of being likely that fastest growing equipment segment of the hunting industry over the past 5 years. So just from a common sense perspective you have to look at that and say: "Either someone out there is an absolute snake-oil salesman, or there is something there." The fact that it is many small companies and not one ginormous deceitful marketer leads you to the latter from a common sense perspective.

Now if there is something there, but you don't see it, that could just mean it doesn't fit your use. Which can make 100% sense. If you've got a pile of set stands hung in good spots, with good access on private that don't get stolen - a saddle is not for you. If I had that situation, I would not saddle hunt. I saddle hunt 90% of the time, but my GOAL is to have presets in the right location that I can just waltz into in the morning. That is better IMO.

But, for a guy that's been hanging Lone Wolf stands every morning and evening for 15 years, I much prefer the saddle system. To the guys that say "Too much movement" if you wait until a deer is at 20 yards to move....A) you're an idiot and B) in that situation you'd be correct. Like Cheesehead Mike has explained you can shoot deer from a stand facing the wrong way. HOW? Because you heard the deer coming and prepped for the shot. It works the same way in a saddle. You hear a deer coming, anticipate the shot, and make it happen.

if you don't want to love it, no one is forcing you to. If you're genuinely curious - look at it with an open mind and both eyes open. It could fit your hunting style, it very well may not. That being said, I also find it much easier to add glitter to my Lone Wolf than my saddle. I've had to resort to adding ribbons and pins to my saddle. The glitter just doesn't stick as good.

From: Lee
04-Mar-24
Good post Apauls. I was going to say basically the same thing. I hang and hunt every single time I hunt. If I hunted private and could hang stands and leave them in great spots that is what I would do. BUT hunting mobile it is a heck of a tool. I even wear it when I do hunt out of my Lonewolf. The lineman’s rope with a rope man attached is super safe going up and down the tree and I use it every time I climb.

Lee

From: Beendare
04-Mar-24
IME, the younger lighter weight guys like it more than the bigger older guys.

I fall in the second category. I’ve used it on remote spots where packing a treestand 2 miles plus in the mountains and off trail is a big hassle. 6# of saddle gear is easy/ compact

From: Starfire
04-Mar-24
Beendare and Apauls raise some good points. As for the growth of the product, saddles have been around for a long time and they seem to strengthen and wain in popularity. I am probably very slighted because I have hunted mostly private land for the last 30 years. After reading these post I will redact my statement. I do see a place for them as the ultimate light weight rig for going deep when every pound counts. I saw on the Tethryd website a back support that I think could be a real game changer for long sits for a guy like me that has a sore back.

04-Mar-24
As I stated previously, for me a saddle is another tool. I hang and hunt or "climber" and hunt on nearly every hunt. Some of my hikes are 1-2 miles or more. I've added an e-bike as another tool and the combination of the saddle and e-bike has really increased my mobility. My next purchase is going to be some of the super lightweight Tethrd sticks.

My biggest concern with hunting out of a saddle is how restricted I feel and the fact that I have to maneuver around the tether to get into position on some shots. That's not an issue when you see or hear a deer coming and you have time to get into position. It hasn't happened yet, but my concern is those situations where it happens fast (like with a fast moving or chasing buck) that I might not be able to quickly get into position for a shot. So that begs the question; what good is lightweight and mobility if you can't execute the shot in the moment of truth?

In regard to the snake oil salesman comment, I'm not saying that saddles fall into that category but I also wouldn't underestimate the power of social media, YouTube, etc and the desire for the latest and greatest gadget and being one of the cool kids. Not that I give a rip, but there's definitely a pro-saddle vibe out there on social media and somewhat of a condescending attitude toward those who still hunt out of conventional stands. One good thing I guess is that I'm seeing a lot of used stands for sale on Facebook marketplace, etc.

From: Michael
04-Mar-24
All my early season set ups are hang and hunts. I use a combo saddle and Novix helo hang on stand. Some times I sit in the stand and some times I lean out and put my weight on the bridge. The loops for attaching the lineman rope on the saddle are a lot bigger than my safety harness. So it makes unhooking and hooking in easier when going around branches while hanging sticks or taking sticks down.

From: Blood
04-Mar-24
Apauls if you’re hunting Ag fields or over a bait pile, you might know exactly where a deer can come from and be prepared for the shot angle. If you hunt hardwoods, while the leaves are on the trees and it’s wet, I’ve had plenty of deer “appear” at less than 35-40 yards away. Saddle leaves you little opportunity to pivot all the way around a tree for a shot without being picked off. Otherwise, a saddle can be a cool, lightweight option. Still think a climber is faster, quieter and offers better opportunities to just sit still, stand up/or pivot and kill a deer without being seen. Kudos to those that like their saddle. I think it’s a great option when the location allows it.

From: 2Wild Bill
04-Mar-24
Blood X2. Movement attracts deer in the negative sense.

04-Mar-24
Like Adam said, it’s a tool. Just like some of use saws and impacts, there’s some of us that use other tools daily. You might or you might not like it based on several things. But, I don’t understand the moving or lack of ability to move as an issue.

Maybe it’s the small platform that limits some people. I can’t imagine why because if you are tethered in, you can set there without a platform. Much less a big one.

Or, maybe it’s the close confines to the tree as you lean there waiting on deer. I don’t know. I just know moving around the tree is as effortless as breathing. Do, those cons described above are lost on me.

From: SaddleReaper
04-Mar-24
I bought my first tree saddle back in 2008. Pretty sure I first discovered what they even were while surfing this site. It probably wasn't until about 2014 that I really began to use the saddle more than 50% of the time however. Around that time I also began to modify my factory trophyline and try different rope/ carabiner/ ascender combos. A few years later the brand Tethrd emerged and pretty much single handedly revitalized that segment of the hunting equipment market, which is just out of control today. I owned, hated, and promptly sold the first Tethrd saddle they introduced, but they still deserve credit for revitalizing the market. Anymore it seems there is a new basement-shop brand popping up every few months with "their" version of a saddle, saddle gear or climbing stick. I learned early on that like with many product categories, saddles etc. aren't all created equal, and at this point there are far more that I haven't tried than ones that I have. Though there are still new ideas emerging in the form of products or parts of a system, I am not seeing marked improvements much anymore. So, eventually I stopped worrying about keeping up and just stuck with a saddle and climbing system that I like, which also suits my needs.

I only mention all this to preface that my opinions are based on a reasonable amount of first hand experience - not inferences or assumptions drawn from youtube videos.

For those of you who say a saddle solves a problem that doesn't exist, I think you may either be a bit short-sighted, misled by marketing, or listening to some IPA drinkin' tacticool saddle nerds.

Here's my take. Saddles are simply another tool for the job. They have pros and cons no different than a hang-on does.

Some of the pros (for me anyways): comfortable for short or long sits - the latter in conjunction with a back band, overall light weight, packable, can be set up quicker than a mobile stand, virtually no exposed metal - silence, can wear the saddle in to hunt - again in silence with no metal platform for branches and stuff to hang up on and make unnecessary noise, saddle/ tether doubles as a safety harness, mbs (minimum break strength) of saddle related ropes typically exceed your normal factory tree stand ratchet straps by 1000's of lbs, nothing is left in the tree to weather/ rust or be chewed by squirrels, nothing is left in the tree to be stolen, nothing is left in the tree to signal a hunting spot, can be an economical investment used in lieu of purchasing multiple stands, can eliminate the need for tree stands altogether, can hunt from severely leaning trunks or limbs, can hunt from very large or small diameter trees, can hunt from trees that climbers cannot, can use the tree to hide from approaching deer, may even look like a normal extension of the tree, can wrap the tree for true 360 deg shooting .... the list goes on.

Some of the cons: possible learning curve depending on the saddle or climbing system complexity, can be uncomfortable for some body types or fitness levels, not as comfortable as sitting in a nicely cushioned climber for example, can be more difficult to shoot the "weak" side (right side for a RH shooter) without a platform under foot, may stand out more to deer in event you get pegged and can't blend in with the trunk, not as convenient as climbing up into a preset stand, requires some extra time to set up, may require more branch trimming for clearing your swing radius compared to a stand, initially expensive, you may get picked on for hunting from a diaper... the list pretty much ends there.

On the many spread out parcels/ setups I hunt, I tend to use my saddle as a replacement for having to own and maintain multiple treestands. It's a huge time/ cost saver. I will still trim trees or shooting lanes as usual, and even make many presets with steps, sticks, etc. ready to climb for when I show up, but without a stand in place. I don't ever have to worry about them getting stolen, sabotaged, or someone else sitting in them... I like that. I don't have to purchase lifelines for all my sets. I don't have to worry about straps or cables being compromised and climbing in at dark only to become a treestand accident statistic. I am always wearing the gear that doubles as a safety harness and system - from the ground to hunting height. I enjoy how easy my system makes being safe.

When going completely mobile to a non-preset location I can climb 20-25 feet with 5lbs of climbing gear that fits into a small sling pack, not including my saddle. Largely depending on the desired height and tree type, I can be set up in 5-10 minutes all while remaining completely silent, never returning to the ground once I walk up to the tree. I've even set up with deer bedded in range unbeknownst to me at the time... that's how smooth and quiet my preferred system is.

You may read that and think your old lone wolf or loc on affords all the same advantages, and it may for some, but not all - if you're being honest about it anyways...

From: SaddleReaper
04-Mar-24
Starfire - I bought my first saddle after sustaining a stress fracture in my L5. I also had some slippage and pinch going on because of it. In the same year, months later I was still experiencing "random" shooting nerve pain while sitting... even in treestands. One of the first questions I asked pertained to lower back support and comfort. Though it took some getting used to, I never felt sore or that my pain worsened by hunting from a saddle. In fact I would go as far to say that I believe it helped me strengthen my core muscles, which were what PT exercises were designed to do for me anyways to correct my condition, since fusion surgery was not ideal as a teenager. Can't guarantee that'd be the case for you... I'm no doctor.

From: Mint
04-Mar-24
I use loc ons that i leave in for the season, my Chippewa wedgelock that I bring in and out with me each sit and my kestrel saddle. It's perfect for a couple of spots that are really thick getting to which you can't leave a stand up. I'm definitely a leaner and have a small platform and then I'm very comfortable.

From: Bowbender
04-Mar-24
You may read that and think your saddle affords all the same advantages, and it may for some, but not all - if you're being honest about it anyways...

There, fixed it for ya.

1. I can climb 20-25' with my lightweight loc-on and sticks. Never once returning to the ground. The extra 5lbs doesn't bother me cuz , well, if it does, maybe I should invest in a gym membership. So there's that. I can sit, stand, stay close to the tree (COVER) not hang out at a 20 deg angle. Even take a piss.

2. I've set up and climbed down with deer bedded 60 yards away. Didn't blow off till I was on the ground packing up. That's how smooth my system is.

3. The rest of your post could be a marketing brochure. Why stands are bad and saddles good. So good to know there is no maintainence with saddles. No worries about failed equipment.

I'm perfectly honest. I'll take my lightweight hang-ons any day, and twice on Sundays. Not a tree I can't get in, quickly, quietly, and in cover.

You know how a bowhunter uses a saddle? Wait two minutes, they'll tell you. :)

From: APauls
04-Mar-24
Here's some info for you:

Not a single saddle guy on this thread has said it is "The Only way to go."

Every guy that uses one has used climbers, hang ons etc, and has decided it fits a usage scenario. These are experienced hunters that have tried both methods as opposed to your classic naysayer that simply can't accept someone doing it a different way than their own, because it is an ego shot to themselves. There is nothing to gain by using it and only money to be lost, so why would anyone use it if it didn't fit a use?

The only reason I actually respond to any of these saddle threads is because there is typically a soul or two that is curious whom I may be able to help. Then there's typically a bunch of old crotchety anti-saddle attitudes on here and I just want to share my experience. But what do I know. Last 3 bucks I killed just happened to be out of a saddle while I left my Lone wolf in my garage... I am very familiar with setting up a LW and have done so for an honest 17 years. I have set up a LW stand no less than 250-300 times. I have done it within range of a bedded animal and also pulled it down with deer feeding near by. A saddle is just easier. Both can be done.

Blood - I mainly hunt in the timber, and not over bait. This isn't Saskatchewan. Spinning around is spinning around. If I can do it 12 feet up in bald-ass 8" poplars surely you can do it in your southern hardwoods. If you have the cover to do it in a stand you have the cover to do it hanging from a harness. It's the same situation. Typically things are either quiet in which case I hear animals coming from far away and can prep with a lot of notice, or it is windy, blustery and you don't necessarily see/hear an animal coming. In that case, the environment allows for movement. The way the cold transfers noise up here my environment is likely much more difficult to move in the Connecticut. I do my best to guess where deer are coming from, but with most hunts in a brand new spot I never ever know. Either way, I get it done. Also, I don't care if people don't want to saddle hunt. I honestly don't give a rip. It's just annoying to hear people with zero experience assume and say things are a certain way that absolutely are not that way.

From: Blood
04-Mar-24

Blood's embedded Photo
Blood's embedded Photo
I have tried it last season. I didn’t like that I was constantly swiveling my head and body around looking for deer. I found that I had one small area to draw and shoot my bow (behind and slightly to the left of my position) without swinging all around the tree with a deer at close range - less than 25 yards. Many times deer weren’t seen or heard until almost within shooting range. I was picked off several times making that move. I guess it would be better for those crunchy mornings later in the season ;)

Also I, like some others, can get up and down much faster and quieter in my climber. But I’ve also been using a climber for 37 years. So I have a lot to still try out and learn with this saddle thing. All good info and it renews my hope that I can master this in the fall.

From: SaddleReaper
04-Mar-24
Oh boy...

Bowbender ... your response begs the question... have you actually used a saddle for at least a hunt or 2?

1. You mentioned with your 3 LW sticks and your loc on, so based on that information let me guess... standard LW 32" 3 stepers? And are you using an aider? Bc if you aren't I don't see how you're reaching over 14' unless you space those sticks more than 3'. Or... are you just one of those guys that shoots from the hip? Be honest now.

2. Sweet, I never said it wasn't possible with a hang-on, did I? I'll expand on that deer bedded in range comment. I was one climbing stick away from being set up, with my bow on the ground, when a buck was pushed into 20 yards by another buck, which then decided to bed down as the aggressor left. I was able to set my last stick and climb up onto it and tether to the tree. Only had to pull my bow up, all of which I managed to do unnoticed. I really have a hard time imagining setting a stand unnoticed or unheard in that same scenario.... but alas maybe I could've if I had a trusty loc-on steel or aluminum treestand like you do, we'll never know. I might add, I sold the only loc on windwalker I had, for a premium... no regrets. I'd pick any of the newer options available today over that thing.

3. Your response to the OP could be a display of ignorance, and that's okay. I'm also set in my ways about some things! Maybe you just need someone to let you demo a system that's as well dialed, or perhaps even better than your go-to in some ways.

One thing you'll learn about a bowhunter that uses a saddle is that most are willing to let you demo their gear to help educate a fellow bowhunter on what other good options there are out there; You know, for scenarios where you need to get into shooting position on the big six's granddaddy- without having a seizure. :)

From: Lee
04-Mar-24
Good post Apauls. I was going to say basically the same thing. I hang and hunt every single time I hunt. If I hunted private and could hang stands and leave them in great spots that is what I would do. BUT hunting mobile it is a heck of a tool. I even wear it when I do hunt out of my Lonewolf. The lineman’s rope with a rope man attached is super safe going up and down the tree and I use it every time I climb.

Lee

04-Mar-24
I don’t mean this bad blood but, you don’t look like you are but 9-10’ off the ground tops. There’s nothing wrong with that. And, it may not be or it may have just been that set. You just look low in that tree. If that’s the case, what other stand can a guy use that low that they don’t get busted moving on deer within 25 yards?

From: Blood
04-Mar-24
My tow rope is 20’. I use four steps with an aider. Pics don’t give you scale. You can see from that position, I can only shoot slightly behind me and to my left. Nothing in front, right or behind. I’d have to pivot a ton to get into position to draw. I was stuck several times when deer approached head on and went to my right. I had no chance to move at that point. It’s a cool concept and definitely lighter to carry in/out. I’m also not a small guy. 6’2” 225. I don’t exactly blend in in the trees angled out. Lol :)

04-Mar-24
I had deer within six yards of me this year when I wasn’t an inch over 10’ off the ground. I drew my bow 14 times this year on different deer. Not all was from a tree. And, not all that were from a tree, were in that low set. But, I never got picked off the first time in any tree. In fact, I haven’t had a deer see me in a tree in 4 years of hunting with a saddle.

From that tree it would indeed be hard to shoot anything in front of you. But, there’s nothing but great shots if that maple wasn’t blocking you from rotating to your left. You could shoot all the way back around to your off side 90 if that tree wasn’t there.

I do tend to turn my head more. Because I’m looking around the tree. But, I turn my head a lot when I’m not facing the tree too. I tend to move more too. But, I relate that to setting in a chair 15-20’ off the ground with my feet on the foot rest. You are just floating there. Weightless.

From: 12yards
05-Mar-24
I have arthritis in my shoulders so when I draw my bow, I need my feet under me in a very specific way. I can't be in any kind of awkward position or I'm not going to be able to draw. That is what makes me think the saddle method won't work for me.

From: APauls
05-Mar-24
Blood - to me that looks like perfect tree selection for a climber or hang on, but as a right handed shooter you've painted yourself into a corner a little with a saddle. Basically the worst situation. Your best shooting is in the one quadrant of the circle that is toughest to shoot from a saddle. In the saddle your "favourite" shooting as a left handed shooter IMO is 7 o'clock to 11 o'clock and then next best from 5 o'clock all the way around to 3 o'clock with minimal movement. In your picture those ideal shooting ranges look very difficult to shoot with that tree there. So I would expect to have a hard time shooting from a set up like that.

I also notice you don't have a platform which IME makes life a LOT better. I will pre-plan where I hang my platform and put my top step even with the platform. This gives my feet two different choices at the same height which allows for incredibly easy "swinging" around the tree in total control with no noise and I can go slow if needed. This allows me to get "around the tree" to shoot that 12-3 o'clock very easily. In your pic, swinging around that direction looks next to impossible because of the other tree beside you. That would likely be my first choice option to shooting a deer on that side of the tree, but you've made it impossible due to your setup. Just for what it's worth. You seem frustrated with shootability but if that setup is representative of your usual I would expect to be frustrated and just choose setups differently. You're looking for essentially the direct opposite of a hang on.

From: JTreeman
05-Mar-24
I picked the worst possible place to set up to shoot left, then blame the saddle for not being able to shoot left. What the actual fuck. SMH.

—Jim

From: Beendare
05-Mar-24
I should have added to my statement;

So I like it for those long distance off trail spots....especially when I'm trucking around and I find a spot I might want to set up right then.

In every other case, I like sticks and a stand. It's no big deal to pack that to a predetermined spot a mile or more over easy ground.

Plus, I am more comfortable in a stand [again- small wire guys might disagree] and I move less in a stand- which can be a big deal.

Guys fidgeting around in a stand don't know what they don't know- they will never see the big buck that picked them off at long distance through the woods.

From: Bowbender
05-Mar-24
Hans (no last name),

1. Whether I use an aider is irrelevant. I get to where I get quickly and quietly. No need to shoot from the hip.

2. No, you never said you couldn't. But your advertising spiel is a pretty good indication.

3. My first post was anything but ignorance. You're sold on saddles. It's cool. Your own conviction won't permit you to see your bias. Any opposing view will construed as ignorance. I don't need to stick my d!ck in a toaster to fgiure out I won't like it. The fact you're hanging OUT from cover and not in it, is all I need to see. Oh ya, forgot... And like I said, if I need to use one for a season to "get used to it" it aint a system I want.

As far as the big six, if I had been in a saddle, he would have walked. Curious, if you had registered with a last name would I find it affiliated with a saddle manufacturer?

From: Blood
05-Mar-24
Apauls. I’m right handed. I’m also standing on an Hawk platform that is about 12 inches above my last step. I can comfortably shoot directly behind me to about directly to my left… So about 90° coverage if I don’t move and stay leaning like I am. One of my friends suggested putting a screw-in step on both sides of my platform so that I can pivot around my tree if needed.

Granted, it’s a light weight option that I have in my bag. But being able to pivot in place on a climber seems so easy with minimal movement. I’ll keep at the saddle thing when I feel I can utilize it. Thank you for your help!

From: APauls
05-Mar-24
Sorry Blood. I misspoke. I meant right handed. I somehow also thought you were standing on the top of climbing sticks not a platform, but I see now it is a platform as you say. If you put it at the same height as your top steps then you can step off platform and use your top step for increased maneuverability. A screw in step can shift and could cause you to jerk suddenly. Good luck!

From: Jebediah
05-Mar-24
A little plug for screw-in steps—it’s been my experience that they’re rock solid. I don’t use a platform with my hunting diaper, use a ring of screw-in steps whenever possible, and I love it. Plus I love harming trees.

From: APauls
05-Mar-24

APauls's embedded Photo
APauls's embedded Photo
I'm not saying I think some guys take it too far, but sometimes I think some guys are taking it too far...lol

From: KHNC
05-Mar-24
To the naysayers....ya'll probably shouldnt try it. Its not for you.

06-Mar-24
I realize I'm probably viewed as one of those ignorant naysayers but that's really not my intention. I really do want to love my saddle and I would also love it if it replaced my climber and hang on stands. But for me the cons are real and they are significant. I hunted out of my saddle numerous times during 5 months of hunting last season. Hopefully I'll become more comfortable and confident but it seems that it should have happened by now. I didn't have to hunt out of my LW sit and climb for an entire season or two before I got comfortable or realized I loved it. One positive of trying a saddle is that I now use the Ropeman on my lineman's belt for all my sets. That in itself has been a huge improvement over just a prussic knot on my lineman's belt while climbing and hanging sticks.

Obviously one of the advantages of a saddle is the compactness and light weight especially on those long hikes into your hunting area. I'm thinking that you guys who wear your saddle while walking into your spot must not hunt where it's cold. There's no way in hell that I could wear my cold weather clothing while walking a mile or more to my hunting area because I would overheat. Therefore I carry my additional clothing in a pack and typically put on my Sitka bibs, Predator wool coat and sometimes another base layer and/or additional layers at the base of my tree or close to it. It would make no sense to wear the saddle during my walk in since I have to take it off to put my warmer layers on...

I have a very open mind when it comes to trying new gear and I love to tinker and make improvements so I haven't given up on the saddle yet. I'm also not afraid to go against the grain at times. For example, the QAD rest is probably the most popular drop away rest on the market with thousands of people swearing by them and convinced they're the best rest out there. And then there are guys like me who have had QAD failures. My QAD failed and cost me 2 bucks that were up there with the biggest bucks I've ever shot at, one in Iowa and one a week or so later in Kansas. Because of those failures, regardless of what thousands of other guys say I'll never take another chance with a QAD rest.

My experience with that QAD rest has caused me to take a long hard look at all of my equipment and identify any potential weaknesses. It seems like the shot limitations and/or maneuvering issues with a saddle are greater than any additional shot possibilities that a saddle may provide over a conventional stand. Unfortunately I can still envision scenarios where a saddle might prevent me from making a shot that I could have made out of a conventional stand. In that case, what good is saving a little weight or bulk if it prevents you from or causes you to fail at doing what you are there to do? We have a very large sample size regarding QAD rests and although the failure rate is very low it is unacceptable to me. I wonder if the saddle hunter sample size just isn't large enough yet that we haven't heard about guys who were unable to maneuver to make the shot on the buck of a lifetime. I know if it happens to me my saddle will end up in the same place as my QAD rest...

From: midwest
06-Mar-24
I've migrated towards a more hybrid approach. Using a platform that's big enough to stand up on and turn around with my back against the tree, there's virtually no shot I can't take from my saddle that I could take from a lock on.

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