Back In The Saddle
I remember the first time I heard about saddle hunting. My boyfriend was so excited, telling me all about it; the pros, the cons, and what he thought about it. They’re affordable, require minimal set up, and are remarkably light. Hunting from a saddle allows you to move 360° around a tree and therefor makes more shots available than a typical tree stand. Naturally, we decided we had to add these to our hunting setup.
I also remember the first time we used our saddles for hunting. Let me tell you, there was a lot to learn. We had watched lots of videos on peoples first impressions, their first time setting up and climbing with them and even more experienced saddle hunters’ how-to videos. There was still a bit of a learning curve. We learned many things that first day. The first issue I was starting on a tree that wasn’t quite straight. From the ground it looked straight, but once I was 20 feet up in the air hanging form a tether, I realized there was certainly a lean to the tree. I managed to set myself up so I was facing into the lean, so I had the tree to keep me form swinging around or losing my footing.
The next time we went out, I chose a tree that was way too big. It was the only one around with good shooting lanes, so I decided to stick with it. Trying to get the straps for the steps around a big tree was so time consuming and difficult, but eventually I got up there and enjoyed my hunt.
I remember one time I wanted to get higher in the tree, so I placed my climbing sticks as far apart as I could possibly reach. I figured I was tall enough to manage. As difficult as getting up the tree was, getting down was almost impossible. I ended up hanging myself from the tree and was unable to get to the ground. Thankfully I was with my boyfriend who was able to pick me up, loosen the climbing sticks and get me to the ground. Another time I chose a tree with too many branches and lost my grip as I tried to maneuver around the large branches. I came uncomfortably close to falling and was shaking the rest of the hunt.
We finally get the hang of it, and I remember the day perfectly. We found a new location near an old favorite hunting spot; in a tree line overlooking a big field. The trees were small and there were tons to chose from so we could both have different shooting angles and a great view. When we walked into this spot, everything clicked. We each picked our tree and the climb went smoothly. No branches, no slipping, no forgetting to tie our bow to its cable having to climb back down to get our bow. We got up to our trees and set up our gear and I remember looking out over the field thinking “this is it”. We had a great spot, with shooting lanes in every direction. A group of 8 deer ran right under us that day. We didn’t get a shot off, as they wouldn’t stop running and playing. But it just reinstated that this was the perfect setup for us.
You don’t need crazy equipment to be successful in your hunt. But if you are thinking about investing in something, I’d suggest looking into something that allows versatility, comfort, quietness and confidence. For me, the saddle has been a game changer.
About the Author:
Kyla Bielert is a pharmaceutical chemist living in Eastern CT with my boyfriend and their dog and cat. She's been shooting for two years, and last season was her first time hunting. In her own words, "I picked up a bow for the first time in summer 2018, and immediately fell in love."