Saddle hunting is becoming more and more popular. Especially in the last two to three years, it has become a prevalent practice in many parts of North America. Why? Saddle hunting is perfect if you are on public land and don’t want to leave your stand behind. Plus, you don’t need to carry around that much weight! You can get up trees with ease and be quiet while doing so. This article will talk about how to do that.
The first thing I would like to mention is that there are different types of tree climbing equipment available on the market today—climbing sticks, steps, with or without screws. And since regulations on public lands generally prohibit climbing methods that penetrate trees, this article will talk only about strap-on solutions.
Tree Climbing Methods
Well-known companies such as Eastern Woods Outdoors©, Bullman Outdoors©, or Wild Edge© have made their own products specifically designed for saddle hunting. They offer several options, including sticks and steps. Depending on your physical ability, experience, background, and type of tree you climb, there are various ways to go about it.
Climbing Sticks are probably considered the safest method because they form a secure and safe ladder type of system once set up correctly. This system relies either on stackable sections attached to one another or, in some cases, separate sections that are not connected to each other.
Muddy Pro Sticks
If you decide on a stackable system, consider greasing the connections to reduce creaking to a minimum while climbing. You also want to avoid any clanking sounds while carrying the sticks with your backpack. When you make too much noise while climbing, you alert every deer within 400 yards.
Depending on the material and system you are using, each section can weigh approximately up to six pounds. If you do your math, you’ll soon find out that to reach a total height of 20 feet – you need to carry something like 25 pounds.
But, there are also lightweight sticks available. Out On a Limb Manufacturing©, for example, offers their SHIKAR 17″ climbing stick weighing only 24oz (not including the strap). Here is a link to their instruction manual (click)
One Stick Methode
This definitely is one of the more advanced methods to climb a tree. Make sure that you have made yourself familiar with the technique before attempting it. It requires more experience and skill than using regular climbing sticks. But you’ll reduce the weight considerably – after all, you only carry one stick, right?
Strap on tree steps is another option. These come in different shapes and sizes. The advantage of these over climbing sticks is that they are lighter and easier to handle when setting them up. However, they usually cost more money.
Bullman Outdoors© offers an excellent product, so does Wild Edge© with their Steppladder model. The weight of those solutions is typically lower compared to tree sticks.
Steppladder, for example, weighs in at approx. 13.35 ounces per step. A set of 16 steps, including rope and carry bag, weigh a total of roughly 16 pounds.
Make sure to take a look at Bullman Outdoors© Silent Approach Tree Steps too! With roughly 5 ounces each, they are incredibly lightweight, won’t damage trees and packs a tremendous value, and has a minor learning curve.
Single- and Double Rope System
Relatively new for hunters but pretty much used forever by arborists. While certainly not suitable for all trees, the beauty of this method is that you do not need to carry steps, sticks, etc., around with you. There is a steep learning curve involved, and I suggest that you get instructed by a professional who knows how to use arborist climbing systems by heart.
There are several methods to get up the tree to benefit from saddle hunting. Each comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. So, which method should you choose? That’s entirely up to you.
Some require less training time, others more. Climbing sticks will be heavier and therefore harder to transport but offer a pretty convenient way to climb a tree. In my opinion, single steps are the easiest way to go.
Consequently, they are lightweight, easy to transport, won’t damage the tree, and safe to use if installed correctly. You don’t need any tools or ropes. Just make sure that you know what you are doing.