Lightweight Treestand Alternative has Advantages

The five trails of a deer highway crisscross a stone’s throw beneath me. One hundred yards out, I see a magnificent 12-point buck making its way down one of the trails. The wind is right, but my position is off—I won’t have a clear shot unless I move around the tree about 90 degrees. Silently, I move around the tree trunk until I am hovering in the perfect spot for that 20-yard arrow release. This maneuverability is just one of the advantages I have hunting from a tree saddle, allowing maximum stealth, safety and comfort with minimal equipment.

I got into hunting late in life and didn’t pick up a bow until the age of 52. Like many men my age, sitting in traditional treestands was difficult, due to a bad back. This limited the amount of time I was able to be in a tree, and it just felt generally “unsafe” even though I was strapped to it. I didn’t want to be held back by my physical limitations, so I began looking for options that would be easier on my back. Trying the tree saddle completely changed my hunting experience. Now I can hang in a tree all day long and feel safe.

In my experience, traditional treestands required a great deal of effort and space to set up, and then many times I would not be in the right position for a clean shot, unable to maneuver. With the tree saddle though, I can slowly and silently move to the shot or make adjustments based upon hunting conditions. By placing the trunk between that big buck and myself, I can use the tree for cover with the added benefit of shifting my position when the wind direction changes—which seems to be par for the course in the Midwest.

Tree saddle hunting is a generic name for using a strap-on harness that allows the hunter to be suspended from a tree. It is a system of straps that attach to a tree and allow you to simply suspend yourself. Your feet are resting on tree steps placed around the tree trunk, allowing you to move 360 degrees. Typically, you are facing the tree with your knees and resting against the trunk, so I wear knee pads. Because of the materials tree saddles are made of, I can stretch or move in the saddle with little or no noise.

Generally, I put my saddle on at the car and walk to the tree. Steps to scale the tree with can be carried, or the tree can be prepared in advance, depending on whether it is private or public land—the public lands for hunts generally don’t allow any steps or stands left on the tree. The flexibility of using a saddle allows me to choose not only the terrain and tree to hunt, but also the climbing height. I try to find trees located on a deer highway, where many different trails intersect, and then I set up on the side of the tree for the best wind direction (If it changes, I can make a slight adjustment and still be downwind). While ascending and descending, there is a lanyard attached to the harness that goes around the tree and then attaches to the other side of the harness. This anchors you to the tree and gives you the freedom to safely navigate a variety of trees, including ones that have limbs between the ground and the final perch. I have a second lanyard that allows me to safely go around a limb without ever detaching from the harness so I can quickly reach my desired position.

Finding the right tree saddle (see below for current products) goes a long way in allowing a hunter to hang in the tree all day long. Available models weight between 4 to 10 pounds, depending on the manufacturer.

Saddles are much lighter than any climber or lock-on made, and I always feel that I am in control and have no fear of losing balance. Let’s face it: mistakes in a tree can be fatal, no matter what your age or equipment choice. The beauty of a tree saddle is if it’s properly used, you are always attached to the tree. If you slip, you may end up with bruises, but not a broken neck or back.

I urge you to check out this unique approach to hunting whitetail. It’s comfortable and safe and it may allow you to spend more time hanging around just waiting for that buck of a lifetime to walk in front of you.

For more information…
Contact Aero Hunter Evolution, New Tribe, Inc., 866-223-3371, or aerohunter.us and Guido’s Web, Guido’s Outdoors, 662-686-2130, or guidosoutdoors.com.

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Ian Munnoch
Ian Munnoch

If you have any questions regarding the concept of tree saddle hunting, please contact Ian Munnoch at ianm@nuhunt.com or 812-322-5080.

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