When you first hear the term saddle hunting, you may imagine a rider on horseback firing an arrow from his bow. The modern form of saddle hunting is a little bit different from this and involves being in a saddle in a tree.
Saddle hunting is a form of hunting where you use a saddle to hold you in an elevated position during your hunt. This saddle will be placed in a tree and gives you an aerial advantage over the game you’re attempting to hunt.
Saddle Hunting used to be a very niche activity to take part in, but over the past few years, it’s become increasingly popular with hunters and more and more mainstream. It’s a great thing to do if you’re looking to try something new or to expand on your existing hunting skills.
In this guide, we’ll explore what equipment you need to get started with saddle hunting, what the benefits are and whether saddle hunting is right for you.
When Did Saddle Hunting Begin?
While the specific date that tree saddles and saddle hunting first originated is a little hard to track down, it’s thought that their use began in the 1960s. As they are a fairly simple design, tree saddles may well have been in use before this date.
Hunting saddles became increasingly popular in the 1980s. Some of the most popular brands came about in the 1980s, such as Trophyline Saddles. Tree saddles have continued to grow in popularity ever since, with their mobility and flexibility proving particularly popular amongst mobile hunters.
What Equipment Do You Need to Use?
To get started with saddle hunting, you only need a few pieces of equipment. First, you’ll need a saddle, the saddle will cradle your posterior and will support your weight while you’re in the tree.
Usually, a saddle will have a pair of loops on either side; on one side, you’ll see smaller loops for a lineman’s belt, and on the other side, you’ll see larger loops for the bridge.
To make sure you’re safe when you head out saddle hunting, you’ll need a platform if you plan on standing up at any point when you’re in the saddle. You’ll also need a tether, a lineman’s belt, a bridge, a carabiner, and some safety gear such as kneepads and an appropriate hunting outfit.
Saddle Hunting Gear
It’s important you have the right equipment when you set out saddle hunting, as this will help to keep you safe and prevent the risk of injury. Most manufacturers of tree saddles create their saddles to be able to withstand more than 5,000 pounds of breaking strength, and most ropes used for lineman’s belts, tethers, and bridges are rated to stand at least 6,000 pounds of weight.
- Closed-front aluminum climbing stand with Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity camo finish
- Suspended foam-padded seat with backrest
- Weighs 25 lbs. and holds up to 350 lbs.
- 18” W x 12” D seat size, 21”W x 30.75” D platform size
- Includes Full Body Fall Arrest Harness System and all necessary hardware
What Are the Benefits of Tree Saddle Hunting?
Once you’ve got safety taken care of, you can begin to enjoy some of the many benefits of tree saddle hunting. If you’ve never used one, then it might take you some time to get used to, but once you do, a world of opportunity will open up.
Let’s explore some of the benefits and reasons to try tree saddle hunting.
One of the main advantages that tree saddle hunting gives you is mobility; you can generally use a tree saddle on any type of tree, providing you can safely attach the saddle and harness to it. Traditional tree hunting where you’d have to use a tree stand limited you to one spot and wouldn’t allow a great deal of movement when you were hunting and this lack of flexibility is one of the main problems with traditional tree stands.
Saddle hunting also gives hunters a level of precision when out hunting and taking a shot. When you’re attached to a tree, you’ll often be able to lean out at a 45-degree angle, which can allow for precise shot placement.
Of course, you’ll want to be careful and make sure you’re properly secure before leaning at difficult angles to take shots, but when it’s done correctly, you’ll have more flexibility in where you place your shots.
There’s also an element of stealth when you’re high up in a tree waiting to take a shot. Deer won’t be able to spot you high up in a tree, and it may well be easier to stay quiet while up in a tree than it is when you’re on the ground.
You can switch trees if you want to, trying to switch trees when you’re using a traditional tree stand can be a little difficult as it involves disassembling the entire stand and then assembling it again on another tree.
Tree saddles also allow you to move around a tree, if you want to try out a shot at a specific angle then you can, when you’re in the saddle. As long as you’re safely secured you can try out different sizes of tree from large to small.
Hunting Saddle Comfort
Generally speaking, saddle hunting is comfortable, providing you have a high-quality saddle. One tip to make them more comfortable is to use a form of back support; you should be able to pick up a strap that will attach to your saddle or carabiner that’ll support your back.
Traditionally, hunting saddles don’t come with back support, which can lead to a degree of back pain if you’re sitting in the wrong position for too long. You may find a tree saddle takes a bit of getting used to when you first use it, but with switching positions and making any necessary adjustments, you should be able to find a good level of comfort.
You Can Try out New Spots
One of the great things about tree saddles is that they are so easy to move around. Due to how lightweight tree saddles are, all you have to do is attach them to your hunting pack, and you’re ready to go.
If you’re used to hunting with a traditional tree stand, then you may know that it can be difficult to move it around when you want to. This problem is solved with a tree saddle as you can move it around easily and head to new hunting spots.
This helps to keep your hunting experiences fresh, so if you’ve grown a bit bored or tired with the same old hunting spots then a tree saddle is a great way to expand your option and try something new.
Hunting Tree Saddle Affordability
While prices can vary with different models of tree saddle, they can save you money in the long run. If you have numerous different spots where you aerially hunt, then before owning a tree saddle, you’d need a few different tree stands positioned in different locations, and costs can add up fast.
By simpling this process and owning a single tree saddle, you won’t need as many pieces of equipment, and you can easily move your tree saddle from tree to tree. The hours of use you’ll get out a tree saddle are endless and a high-quality saddle will last for years.
Should You Swap Your Tree Stand for a Saddle?
Many hunters have been using tree stands for years before deciding to try out a saddle. One of the biggest concerns hunters have with switching is comfort. As we described above, it can take some adjustments to get completely comfortable in a tree saddle, and you’ll want to make sure you can fit comfortably in one before you commit to buying one.
If you know a friend or hunting partner who has a tree saddle, you could always ask to have a trial run before buying one for yourself. Tree saddles are also a lot easier to move around with than a traditional tree stand.
If you’ve ever used a tree stand, you may well have hiked deep into a private lot or forest with a heavy backpack on and a tree stand attached to it. Tree saddles are very lightweight, and you’ll barely notice any added weight if you have one attached to your hunting pack.
Is a Tree Saddle Right for You?
If you’re looking to make a change and try something new, then a tree saddle is definitely worth considering. Carrying around a heavy tree stand and attaching it to a tree can be a bit of a cumbersome process and can tire you out before you’ve even taken a shot. A tree stand solves this problem and gives you greater freedom of choice as to where you want to hunt.
A tree saddle will also give you a new style of hunting to pursue and will stop you getting bored of bowhunting, so if you’ve never tried out tree hunting before, or if you’re looking for a new hobby to pursue, then consider purchasing a tree saddle and give saddle hunting a try.
Last update on 2021-04-15 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API.