When I first tried saddle hunting in 2021, it was due to the promise of a lighter, more comfortable pack deep into the public lands I loved to hunt. But what I quickly found was that the increased mobility was just one of several reasons I would eventually love hunting from a saddle.
So if you’ve been on the fence about saddle hunting, make 2024 the year you give it a try. I think you’ll find that it provides all four of the benefits described below, and maybe more. Chances are, once you’ve given it a try, you’ll be a saddle hunter for life.
1. You’re More Mobile
The biggest perk to saddle hunting is the increased mobility it provides. Saddle hunting setups are typically lighter than treestand options, making them easier to pack deep into the woods as needed.
More importantly to me than the light weight, is the fact that they are much more “packable” than your typical climber or hang-on treestand setup.
I can attach my entire setup to a comfortable, medium-sized backpack, which makes it much easier to carry, and easier to navigate through thick cover without snagging everything or making a bunch of noise.
So if you’re tired of lugging that big climbing stand around, this is reason enough to give saddle hunting a try in 2024.
2. Unlimited Tree Options
Another problem with climbers is the limited tree options. That used to not bother me much when I was hunting big, open hardwoods. But once I learned to hunt the thick cover where mature bucks spend the majority of their time, finding a huntable tree became much more difficult.
I was often left hunting from a tree that really wasn’t in the exact spot where I wanted to be.
Switching to a saddle hunting setup solved that issue for the most part. If there’s a tree around big enough to hold my weight, I can get in it. Even if it has a bunch of limbs. In fact, I look for trees with some limbs because they provide excellent cover, and I can often hunt closer to the ground than I did with a climber.
3. It’s Comfortable
One of the common misconceptions about saddle hunting is that it’s not comfortable. And if you use the wrong equipment or don’t know how to adjust your equipment properly, it definitely can be.
But when you start with a good quality saddle that fits your body well, and learn how to adjust the bridge and tether properly, saddle hunting can be extremely comfortable, and all day sits are possible.
No, it won’t be as comfortable as your Summit Goliath! I know that from experience. But to me, the saddle is much more comfortable than any lock-on, ladder stand, and most climbers.
I will warn you, though, don’t base your feelings about saddle hunting on your first few sits in the saddle! It takes getting used to.
My first experience was a three hour observation sit I did prior to the 2021 deer season just to get a feel for my new Tethrd Phantom saddle. An hour in, I was uncomfortable and thought I had made a big mistake!
But I started making adjustments to my setup and to how the saddle was positioned on my body and found the sweet spots that suited me. By the end of the three-hour sit, I was feeling much better about things, and after a few hunts, I was completely sold on saddle hunting.
4. It’s Safe
Another common misconception about saddle hunting is that it’s not safe. That couldn’t be further from the truth. If you’re using the saddle properly, and staying attached to the tree through the entire setup process, then it’s as safe as any other style of elevated hunting.
Unlike hunting from a treestand, you can’t forget your safety harness or tether rope at home and still climb up the tree and hunt. Saddle hunting requires you to be tethered to the tree, so you’re not going anywhere.
Additionally, you’re using the same type of equipment as rock climbers and linemen, so there are decades of safety features built into the equipment.
5. It’s Fun
Last, but certainly not least, saddle hunting is just fun. This was one of my favorite, but unexpected benefits. There is something very freeing about saddle hunting that I didn’t experience in a climber.
I never felt as stable in a treestand as I do in my saddle because you’re always supported by the tether rope in the saddle. You know 100% you’re not going anywhere.
Now, it took a hunt or two to get completely comfortable with putting my trust in the saddle and tether rope, but once I did, I felt safer than I have while hunting elevated. To me, it made hunting a little more fun than it had been.
Just that in itself made saddle hunting worthwhile to me.
If you’re reading this article, then I have to assume you’re considering saddle hunting. Why not make 2024 the year you finally dive in and give it a try? I think you’ll find it will increase your mobility and tree options, and you’ll be safe, comfortable, and enjoying your time in the tree.
WIth the popularity of saddle hunting these days, you likely know someone with a setup who would let you try it out before you buy your own. Because it is a major investment. Just remember to give it a few sits before you ultimately decide if it’s right for you.
It takes a few hunts to get things figured out, but once you do, there’s no turning back. You’ll be a die-hard saddle hunter.