3 Pieces of Gear you Need to Start Tree Saddle Hunting
By: Jeremy Dinsmore
Trying something new can seem overwhelming at first, but once you get the basics down, your stress level will decrease each time you perform your new skill. That’s how I felt a few years ago when I began learning how to use a tree saddle. I looked at my hunting shelves in my garage and saw different styles of climbing sticks, hang-on stands and climber stands. I tried everything under the sun to become a more mobile and efficient bowhunter, but nothing seemed to check all the boxes for me: safety, ease, packability and overall lightweight. During that time, the craze of using a saddle for hunting was taking off, and it checked all the boxes. Since the first time I tried a saddle, I haven’t looked back. All the hang-on and climber stands that were on my garage shelves are now someone else's equipment. Below are the essentials you need to give saddle hunting a try.
First, you need a saddle. I use the Phantom by Tethrd. This specific saddle is ultralight and can fit most people with a 28- to a 40-inch waist. Of all the saddles I've tried, this one is the most comfortable and easy to use. Tethrd also offers a Phantom XL for individuals looking for more material and have a 38+-inch waist.
Saddle Hunting Ropes
Secondly, you will need two different ropes: a lineman's rope and a tether rope. These two ropes play a major role in your safety and comfort during saddle hunting. As you ascend the tree, you'll use a lineman's rope to keep you secure and connected to the tree at all times. As you get your platform attached and you stand, you'll need to use the tether rope. Once you secure your tether rope to your saddle bridge, you're connected at two locations to the tree.
As I mentioned above, you will need a platform for your feet that allows you to shoot 360 degrees around the tree and remain comfortable for an all-day hunt. I currently use the Tethrd Predator XL, which offers plenty of boot room and only weighs four pounds.
The final essential piece of equipment needed is a method to get up the tree. There are many different ways to accomplish this, but the most common is by using climbing sticks to get to your desired height. Sticks come in different weights, sizes and are offered in a single-step or two-step option. I prefer a two-step option because it allows you to put both feet on the same step. Currently, the Tethrd Skeletor sticks are my go-to and are very affordable. They stack perfectly with their StickLoc pin system, weigh two pounds per stick and come in a four-pack - a total of only eight pounds. There are many different options for a hunter to climb a tree, but once you figure out the method that feels comfortable for you, your setup and teardown will be a breeze.
Saddle Hunting Extras
In addition to the three essential items you need, I recommend a few accessories that allow you to dial in your system. First up is the stash pouch. You can get away with one on your saddle, but many hunters run one on each hip. I have my tether and lineman's rope on my left side in my Tethrd SYS Hauler. Another critical accessory is a strap to hold a bow and pack. The Tethrd HYS Strap is perfect for this. The HYS Strap is seven feet long and has tons of mollie loops to hang your items from. I stash it on my right hip in another SYS Hauler, but you can easily place it in your pack. Last but not least, a bow hanger is important to have. A bow hanger will attach to your HYS Strap. Of course, you can add other accessories to this list, like a back support band or even an aider for your climbing method, but for what it takes to start saddle hunting, the items listed above will have you covered.
Practice, Practice, Practice
I highly recommend getting comfortable using your gear. To do this, set your platform up about a foot off the ground and saddle in. Practice how to move your body around the tree, where to place your tether rope and how long to keep your bridge rope, then practice shooting. Once you get the feel of being in the saddle, practice doing your complete setup and tear down. Work out the kinks each time you practice. Once you do that, you'll have added the most helpful tool in your hunting toolbox to become a saddle hunter!