- Tree Saddle Hunting Modifications | Mods for Sticks, Platform, & Saddle
Tree Saddle Hunting Modifications | Mods for Sticks, Platform, & Saddle
By: Jeremy Dinsmore
Saddle hunting has evolved so much over the last decade, from hunters creating their own gear to having multiple recognizable companies now at trade shows all over the country. Now, products are not only easier to get, they are also easier to use. The innovation continues to grow and develop for us everyday hunters. However, one of the aspects of saddle hunting/mobile hunting that I love though is still making gear my own with specific modifications for my own hunting needs. While some hunters don’t like to put silent strips on their equipment, others make sure every square inch of their gear is covered in it. So, let’s talk about some of the most common modifications that saddle hunters do to their hunting gear.
Tree Saddle Hunting: Saddle Modifications
There are a ton of different saddles out on the market today. In one of my earlier articles, '3 Pieces of Gear you Need to Start Tree Saddle Hunting', I mentioned that I use the Tethrd Phantom saddle. This specific saddle is like my microtune bowrest or sight. What I mean by that is I am able to adjust the length of my bridge with their Utilibridge easily and quickly. The Comfort Channels provide all day comfort in various settings, the Freedom Belt adds extra comfort with infinite adjustability from left to right, and there are 4 suspension loops to connect the Tethrd Suspender System on. With all these features already built in, you are able to microtune your saddle to your needs. Because of these features, I don’t do a lot of modifications. Most modifications come into play while climbing up the tree. I use s-hooks on my molle loop on my right hip. This s-hook is going to hold my two sticks as I climb up the tree by paracord. However, if you are not running a Tethrd Phantom Saddle and the current saddle you are using doesn’t have an adjustable bridge, then this is another modification that could be made to your setup.
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Tree Saddle Hunting: Climbing Sticks Modifications
Sticks have become some of the most fun pieces of equipment to modify for saddle hunting. Some hunters keep it basic with stealth strips to cover spots where they make the most noise or cover the entire stick in them to reduce any chance of unwanted sound. More and more hunters are also switching to one-sticking. This is using just one stick to get up a tree and repelling down when the hunt is over. When hunters use this method, they are tricking out their one-stick with a small platform step for their top step. There are some really cool and innovative ways to make this specific gear more quiet, lighter and efficient to use in the field.
Attaching your stick to the tree has a few different options. One is just using the cam buckle that is provided with most sticks. You can modify your attachment method by using ropes, the buckleless method, AmSteel Rope, Versa Links or Versa Straps. Currently on the Tethrd One & Sketletor sticks, they use the DynaLite rope and a tab. This rope is ultra lightweight and tough. The process to attach them to the tree is quick and the easiest method I have found to use.
Another modification that is used a lot is the use of an aider. From climbing aiders, built-in stick aiders, and custom aiders designed specifically for the climbing stick you are using, there are many options for a hunter when deciding what kind of aider to get. You can choose from a 5 step aider all the way down to 1 step and you can choose between AmSteel rope, plastic coding wire, or a webbing material. Aiders allow you to get higher in a tree by placing your stick up higher. Once you get the stick on the tree, the aider will hang down and you just climb up onto them. This takes a little practice to get used to, but since they weigh next to nothing there really aren’t any downsides. See what you like and fine tune your overall setup to your needs. One last easy modification that hunters do to their sticks is to toss some color on them. Just get whatever color spray paint that you would like and a sponge. Give them a coating and dab the other colors with the sponge to get your desired look. It’s easy and fun. I’ve done this with my daughter so she can be involved too. Any chance I can get with including my family in hunting or the outdoors, the better!
Tree Saddle Hunting: Platform Modifications
Like sticks, a saddle platform can be spray painted or covered in stealth strips to silence it. For right now though, let’s talk about two easy modifications that can make setting up the platform a breeze. The first one is to place a Night Ize Gear Tie Loopable on the platform post. This specific gear tie allows you to cinch it down around the platform post. With the remaining gear tie, all you do before setting up is wrap it around your lineman's rope. Now, your platform is just hanging and you have both hands to connect the platform to the tree. Check out this video for a how-to! The other easy modification is how to strap your platform to the tree. The most common method is using a cam-buckle that comes with the platform. Another option is to use Versalinks, Versastraps or AmSteel rope. The connection is the same as your climbing sticks. So, you are ditching the cambuckle due to weight or noise and going to use this method for easier use and lighter weight.
Tree Saddle Hunting: Add ons
As far as accessories are concerned, I wouldn’t necessarily call these “modifications” but rather add-ons that can make your hunt either more enjoyable or more efficient. A piece of gear that falls in this category is a back-band. Using a back-band will give you added comfort on an all-day sit. These provide incredible comfort without any bulk. Knee pads are another piece of gear that add comfort ,or in my case, stability for shots. When I am able to swing around the tree to shoot, I like placing my knee into the tree for stability and the knee pads really are a must for me. Again, these two pieces are not technically modifications, but they are great accessories that can be added to any saddle hunting kit to help make a difference in your hunting experience!
If you are looking to fine tune your hunting setup, saddle hunting provides you with endless ways to do so. Have fun with it and get your specific setup dialed to your needs.