Of all the latest and greatest trends in the hunting industry, none are as welcome and effective as tree saddles. Although saddle hunting has been around for a while, it has been picking up steam in the past couple of years and it’s easy to see why. Tree saddle hunting gives you a unique and comfortable way to hang from the heights of trees without the bulk, noise, or weight of a tree stand.
But to get the most out of a tree saddle, you need to have some essential gear in your kit. From the basics to special accessories you might not have thought of, we’ll cover it all so that you can successfully (and safely) hunt out of your tree saddle this season!
Aside from the saddle and accompanying gear, there’s plenty to remember. Let’s jump into our list of essentials that you’ll need to level up your tree saddle hunting experience:
To get the most out of a tree saddle, you'll need some essential gear in your pack.
Just like hunting out of a treestand, you’ll need a bow hanger to keep your bow close by. A reliable bow hanger will keep your bow within reach and accessible when you need it. Don’t forget a rope or something similar to hoist your archery gear into the tree as well. Some even include extra hooks to hang packs, calls, etc.
A climbing aider allows you to climb higher while saving some weight. It is essentially a rope or strap — although can be made up of cable or armsteel as well — that is attached to the bottom of one of your climbing sticks and acts as an extra step. By attaching climbing aiders to your climbing sticks, you can not only carry fewer sticks but save yourself some weight and climb just as high in the tree.
Knee Rest/Knee Pads
Some saddle hunters might be against some kind of knee rest, but hear me out. Even if you are constantly standing or leaning in your saddle, your legs will eventually need a rest. By having a knee rest or by wearing some comfortable knee pads, you can give your body a break and use the tree as a rest. At the end of the day, the more comfortable you are, the longer and harder you will hunt.
Hunting out of a saddle allows you to get close to your quarry, but you still might need to bring them in that last little bit. Something as simple as a decoy gives deer a visual to come and check out, bringing them right into your shooting lanes (especially during the rut).
Our go-to for saddle hunting is the Deer Rump. This simple decoy is lightweight, folds up small, and you can literally carry it with you all the time. When you’re ready to deploy, it opens up plenty big enough to impact your hunt.
Something as simple as a decoy gives deer a visual to come and check out.
Going back to the comfort thing, you want to be prepared for whatever the weather or temperature throws at you. Something as simple as a spare jacket can help take the chill off should the temperature drop, allowing you to stay a little longer or not shake as badly when that big buck comes walking in. A warm hat, gloves, or neck gaiter can also be useful.
Using prusik knots in your climbing ropes is certainly effective, but ascenders are definitely an easier solution. These devices allow a smooth upward climb on a rope while preventing any sliding back down. In saddle hunting, they replace prusik knots on your tether and lineman ropes so that you can adjust them with one hand. For hunters in a tree, this is invaluable and ascenders are a must-have in any kit.
While saddles can be extremely comfortable, many don’t offer much lumbar support. And no matter who you are or your age, all-day sits can really start to wear on you without it. Thankfully saddle hunting companies have separate backrest attachments that can support your back for an even more comfortable experience. While not necessary, they make a nice addition to your kit and don’t weigh much at all.
Having a pair of binoculars on hand can help improve your visibility and reduce movement. They allow you to analyze potential game approaching without having to shift much in the saddle. Plus, the sooner you spot the deer you're after, the sooner you can get into position and make your shot.
A problem hunters new to saddle hunting tend to face is getting set up in a good position to shoot. This video explains and demonstrates four different shot setups in a saddle.
Foldable Saw/Pruning Shears
I always carry a small saw or pruning shears in my pack just in case I need to trim a random branch or limb that could block a viable shooting lane. These small tools are even more important while saddle hunting, as you might choose to climb different trees and will need to clear any obstructions. They can also help trim any branches that would keep you from climbing an otherwise perfect tree, allowing you more flexibility and options where you climb and hunt.
It’s easy to see why tree saddle hunting is growing in popularity every year. But while it is one of the best ways to hunt out of a tree, it also requires a little preparation and attention to detail. By bringing along the right pieces of gear, you can take your comfort and safety to a whole new level in your tree saddle this season!