Some gear on the market is nice, but some pieces are must-have. Saddle hunting has many of these items, far more than I’ll cover here. The best way to determine if a piece of gear is a “must-have”; it should cover a few bases. The kit must be legal, improve safety, save time, and improve comfort. An added benefit would include weight savings and making your technique more versatile.
There’s never a better time to carve out a new list than the present. Make your saddle kit exactly what you want it to be today!
Bow Hanger: A bow hanger is a pretty easy choice if you strictly hunt private land. Bring it with you and screw it into the tree, or better yet, buy a couple of screw-in hangers and leave them there.
One of the challenges public land hunters face is ensuring that their tools are legal. Some states may have regs that allow hunters to prune or screw things into trees, but it’s not many! In most states, making a hole in a tree or pruning branches on public land is illegal.
To combat this, Tethrd makes the HYS Strap to make hanging your bow on public land easier. I’m plugging this product because it’s the best option I have found for hanging gear on public land. There are plenty of options to attach your bow to the strap. Mine is to use a contractor’s Monster Hook, but Clint’s Do-it-yourself KYDEX bow hanger can’t be beat. Check out this video for more on Public Land Bow Hangers.
Ascenders: Ascenders may cost you a couple of extra dollars, but they are worth every penny. This gadget is a simple climbing device that enables you to adjust the length of your tether or lineman’s rope. Word of advice, use them to replace every prussic knot (except the prussic on your bridge).
These devices will shave time off your ascent and remove the hassle of adjusting your knot. Since they remove the need to use two hands, they can make your climb safer. Remember, they are mechanical devices and could fail, so consider the specs and check your equipment before use! If you want a cheap way to turn your regular prussic into a smooth one handed ascender…check out this YouTube video!
Climbing Aider: A climbing aider is one of the best ways to save weight and remain safe. An aider is a cable, rope, strap, or other material attached to the bottom of a climbing stick. They act as an extra step, getting a hunter higher into a tree without carrying more climbing sticks. Some hunters have an aider with as many as five steps, but the most popular is a single or double-step aider.
If you only want to carry two or three sticks and be in the 20-foot range all the time, aiders are the way to go. When using the one-sticking method, aiders are a must. You can check out the one-sticking method video here
Knee Rest: Hear me out. Maybe you truly are a stander or leaner. But everyone needs a break now and again. A knee rest is purely for comfort, but it can play a role in making you a better hunter.
I wouldn’t say that I always rest my knees against the tree. But when my body needs a break from leaning, using the tree for rest gives me the pep I need to stay longer.
There are a few choices for padding, knee pads are what I prefer, but a pad strapped to the tree works just as well for others.
A Practice Routine: A practice routine isn’t a piece of gear. But it’s the most crucial thing every saddle hunter should do. There isn’t a better way to save time, be safe, or stay comfortable than building a practice routine and perfecting it before being in the woods. This suggestion goes for most of your gear. But remember, when climbing a tree, you’re taking your safety into your hands. That might sound dramatic, but it won’t be when it stops an unwanted injury.
Learn how to use the gear, find the items that will work for you, then use them long before you need to climb a tree in the dark.
As far as legal, safe, comfortable, and time-saving criteria go, saddle hunting far exceeds any other elevated hunting and climbing method. Most falls from a tree occur during the climbing phase when a hunter is not attached. Saddles make staying attached to a tree easy and non-cumbersome. If you have a fear of heights, saddles also help to reduce that fear. With a tether and lineman’s rope, you can always feel your connection to a tree, unlike a harness with a small amount of slack.
You won’t regret the deep dive into the saddle-hunting world.