When it comes to a saddle versus a treestand, how do you know which to choose?
Are you in the market for a new treestand? What about a saddle, have you tried one out yet? How do you know which one will be right for your scenario?
It seems that saddle hunting has emerged as the new craze as of lately. Though this form of hunting has been around for several decades and used by hunters such as John Eberhart, it appears to be making a resurgence.
However, you've got to distinguish the advantages over a regular hang-on or climbing stand, and see if they make a difference. If I like my current method why should I change?
We'll go through a few of the basics to help you figure it out.
When you hear about saddle hunting, you usually hear it in the context of public land hunting or run-and-gun hunting. There's good reason for this, and it's probably the saddle's biggest selling point.
A tree saddle is very lightweight, and that makes it easier to get up and down trees faster once you understand the method.
It typically still requires a form of climbing sticks or steps. A lot of saddle hunters will still take climbing sticks just as you would with a hang-on or lock-on stand. Some guys will use screw-in steps or other forms of tree steps.
Additionally, hunters will use a small platform that is significantly lighter than your typical lock-on platform. One of the main differences between the two forms of hunting is that with saddle hunting, you don't always need a platform.
Some hunters will argue that hunters are able to shoot with a wider range of versatility than when a treestand. It's understandable, and another big argument for the use of saddles.
Obviously, you can use a saddle while deer hunting on private land just as effective as they can on public land. But treestands do tend to make more sense on land you own or have permission to hunt, and won't have to worry nearly as much about theft.
If you plan on pre-hanging sets, and if you plan on hunting with more than one hunter, a treestand might be more optimal.
Similarly, some hunters prefer a larger platform to stand on while shooting, or they prefer a similar hang-on setup when hunting an all day sit.
Less of your body is "hanging off the edge," so to speak, when you're using a treestand. In that sense, you are technically in a safer position should something go awry.
Treestands also typically have more room for storing the things you need, like grunt calls, water bottles, or extra ammo. A bar to hang a lanyard on or a ledge to set your drink on goes a long way. With a saddle, you're at the tree's mercy.
Both forms of hunting require a safety harness. With the saddle you would need to use a lineman's rope each time up the tree. On the contrary, with a treestand you would only need to once if you hang a safe line.
There is a learning curve when saddle hunting, however avid saddle hunters are adamant that once you master the saddle it's a lot better for getting into trees that you can't with a treestand, and shooting at angles you normally couldn't with a treestand. While this might be true, at the end of the day it comes down to what you're most comfortable with while sitting in a tree.
There are several brands of saddles now on the market. Tethrd makes the Mantis saddle and the Predator platform which have both become popular for run-and-gun hunters. Aero Hunter makes the Kestrel and the Kite.
You'll see thousands of treestands on the market if you know where to look, so it's worth brushing up on the different types available to find out what works best.
Above all, make sure you're practicing your tree hunting process and skills, or it won't really matter what you're using to get up there.