While saddle hunting has been around for decades, it wasn’t until the last three or four years that it has exploded in popularity, particularly among public land hunters who are trying to be as lightweight and as mobile as possible. If this is going to be your first-year saddle hunting, one of the things you will run into when you start doing your research was a lot of confusion over exactly what you need and what you don’t need when it comes to saddle hunting equipment. Part of that confusion is due to the vast equipment options out there, as well as the fact that lots of guys are modifying and fabricating equipment to suit their needs. But it’s not nearly as complicated as it seems, because you only need a handful of things to get started, and we’re going to look at those items in this article and accompanying video to clear up any confusion.
Here’s the list you will be needing:
- Two ropes
- Climbing method
First and foremost, you’ll require a saddle, which can be found in a variety of styles on the market today. A hunting saddle is best described as a hybrid between a rock-climbing harness and a hammock, according to the best description I’ve heard. If you’ve never seen a rock-climbing harness before, it’s like the bottom half of a tree-stand safety harness in that it contains a belt that goes around your waist as well as one for each of your legs. A cloth, tiny hammock of sorts is stitched onto the seat of a saddle to support your bottom as you dangle in the tree. A rope called the bridge is attached to the front of the saddle and is hooked into your tether rope to tie you to the tree.
Saddle hunting necessitates the use of two separate ropes in addition to the saddle. The first is your lineman’s rope, which is a big rope with a prusik knot on one end and a carabiner on the prusik knot on the other. This rope wraps around the tree and connects to each side of your saddle to keep you tied to the tree when climbing up or down the tree or putting up your climbing sticks or platform.
Your tether is the second rope, and it looks quite like the lineman’s rope. It likewise includes a prusik knot with a carabiner on the end of the rope, but instead of a second carabiner, it has a big loop for passing the rope back through itself after wrapping it around a tree, like safety ropes used with tree stands. This rope is used to tie oneself to the tree once you’ve reached hunting height. Unlike the lineman’s rope, which attaches on both sides of your saddle, the tether clips onto the bridge rope on the front of your saddle. Check out the video for a visual representation of this.
You’ll need a place to rest your feet after you’ve reached hunting height in your saddle. For the most part, this is done on a commercially available platform, which is akin to a very small hang-on stand without a seat. Some individuals just rest their feet on the top step of their climbing sticks, while others opt for commercially available solutions like a ring of steps that allows you to turn all the way around the tree if necessary. A conventional platform, on the other hand, is the most straightforward solution for most people.
A route up the tree is the last thing you need when saddle hunting. There are a variety of methods for this, but most hunters prefer to utilize climbing sticks. You may even use screw-in steps, strap-on steps, or climbing spurs on your boots if you’re a true tough!
Knee pads (Optional)
Knee pads (which may cost anywhere from $10 to $50 depending on your budget) and a rucksack are two more items to consider. People get inventive when it comes to the pack, so do some search on here. Everything from utilizing one of the ropes as a sling to fixing whatever bag you currently have to spend $100-250 has been observed. You can saddle hunt on a budget with the number of DIY suggestions on here.
From the outside, saddle hunting may appear difficult, but it’s actually no different from any other type of tree hunting. No, it’s not for everyone, but it may be a useful addition to your deer-hunting arsenal, especially if you hunt on public property and want to venture off the usual route.