Is It Time To Ditch Your Treestand?

Is It Time To Ditch Your Treestand?

My world in bowhunting began from a humble ground-swatting position. It wasn't until I turned fourteen that my dad gave me a clunky climbing stand, the kind that's built to last. This was a game-changer. I was experiencing deer hunting from an elevated position, and that perspective increased my love for deer hunting like nothing else.

After a few years of grinding tree bark, clinking, and clunking around the woods, I needed something more. Often, I'm overly skeptical of "trending" gear. With new gear on the market, I usually sit back to see how things pan out for everyone else. It was only a short time until I learned of hang-on tree stands and sticks, and I was intrigued by how many options I’d have with a setup like that.

I picked up a budget set of a stand and sticks and went to work as soon as I had dollars to spend. It made bowhunting even better. I could sit comfortably in almost any tree I wanted. Soon after my purchase, I finally killed my first archery buck. It took eighteen years of trying and a few rifle bucks in between, but it certainly added fuel to the fire.

If you’re still holding on tight to your treestand, here are a few reasons to reconsider trying out a mobile setup.

Don't be a Skeptic

Like many hunters, I was skeptical when I first heard about saddle hunting. A glorified rock climbing harness for hunting? It sounded like a gimmick. But the more I learned about it, the more I realized its potential. It's not just a trendy piece of gear; it's a valuable tool that can enhance your hunting experience in ways you might not expect.

Thinking the trend would fade when people realized this was not the way, I discovered I was wrong. The trend stuck, and the more I heard, the more I wanted to know. Too much time went by, and I caved. I bought my first Tethrd Predator Saddle Kit. Maybe you aren't in the "mobile" hunting community where all the hype is, but it's impossible to argue the effectiveness of a saddle, even for private land hunters who need to up their game to kill a special buck.

Get the Hang of Things

At first, climbing with a saddle is awkward, but anyone can get the hang of it after a few sessions in the backyard. In my entry sessions, I learned all the best methods for taking various shots from the saddle, and the shot options are endless.

What you've probably already learned about hunting is that nothing is done right the first time. Proper shooting form needs lots of practice. Your first hike in the dark could have you wandering in circles. Repetition is vital to most things in hunting, and any climbing tool is no exception. It should be one of the things you practice most. After all, it does account for a high number of accidental injuries every year.

I was a big-time greenhorn during my debut hunting season with a saddle. I needed more time to grasp the necessary skills. Climbing and choosing a tree that season was challenging. But during that first year, I managed to arrow one of my best public land bucks in the big woods of Pennsylvania. Saddles completely won me over. I couldn't have climbed my chosen tree with any other tree stand. Because I was in the saddle, I was able to sit in the right place at the right time.

Comfort and Safety

Can saddles be uncomfortable at times? Fidgeting and sore joints may occur during an all-day sit. But I've never sat in a treestand for twelve hours and felt like I had just wrapped up a day in the spa. In fact, I know a few hunters who pop meds just so their rear end won't get sore after hours of stand time.

As for safety concerns, most treestand accidents happen when a hunter moves on or off a stand. The next leading cause is failing to wear a harness. In a saddle, you're always in a harness, and the attachments connecting you to the tree come with serious weight ratings. One of the coolest things I've experienced while hunting from a saddle is my fear of heights disappearing. Because I always feel tension connecting me to the tree, I’m more apt to take an accurate shot. There is confidence in my foot and my anchor points that take away the knee-knocking. That alone was worth a saddle for me.

Why Fix What's Not Broke

The phrase "if it's not broke, don't fix it" is often taken out of context. For example, a fisherman who catches piles of fish from the shore is a good fisherman. But would fishing from a boat make him better? Plenty of big buck slayers hunt solely from ladder stands, hang-on stands, and climbing stands. But how many bucks did they have their heart set on and couldn't close the deal? Would it have made a difference if they had a game-day plan to get deeper into a sensitive bedding area?

A saddle is a must-have tool for any hunter who spends time in an elevated position. Its versatility is unmatched, and it offers many benefits for hunters who need to move in deep. Not only is it more stealthy and less bulky, but it's also lighter in weight, making it the best choice for any hunt at a distance from the truck.

What if you kill a deer three miles deep in the big timber? Do you want to hike back to the truck with your deer or gear and then return for whatever you left in the woods? I'm a once-in and once-out type. If I'm going to hike out heavy, I want to be able to carry all of it. Depending on the size of the deer you kill or how many reliable buddies you have, you might be fine carrying a tree stand and a deer out in one fell swoop. A saddle, especially in a solo setting, makes this task far easier.

Admitting is the First Step to Recovery

I admit I was wrong about the trend. Saddles are not just a trendy piece of gear; they are an excellent tool. In most situations, they rule the roost. They've improved my hunting experience significantly and can do the same for you. You might look like a monkey, but I'll be willing to bet you'll love every minute of it.

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