When I first heard the term saddle hunting, I was confused. At first I honestly thought the person was talking about trying to find a saddle for a horse. My next thought was that they were talking about finding saddles in the terrain while scouting. Turns out, neither was correct.
To boil it down, Saddle hunting is essentially hunting out of a swing. Though I don’t have any experience (as of yet) with a true saddle, I have been using a sit drag as a saddle for this entire season. There is definitely a learning curve when it comes to saddle hunting. The first few times out with the sit drag, I was swinging all over the place trying to figure out my foot placement.
Benefits of Saddle Hunting
Though there is a learning curve, I’ve found many benefits to hunting out of a saddle setup. First off, I can hunt out of a whole lot more trees than I could with my climber. The climber limited me to straight trees with no branches. With the sit drag, I can climb just about any tree that I can get my climbing sticks in. Leaning trees are no longer an issue. In fact, a slight lean in the tree is actually favorable in a lot of circumstances.
Another benefit to saddle hunting is the comfort. I have done more all day sits this year than I ever have. In the sit drag, I had no issues with getting cramped or uncomfortable. I have the ability to lean, sit, or stand with less movement than in a hang on or climber.
The final benefit I’ll mention relates to weight and bulk. The sit drag weighs nothing compared to a hang on. The sit drag with the climbing sticks is also still less weight than carrying the climber. With the sit drag and sticks, I can keep everything contained within my body profile where as the climber is much wider and bulkier. I could hardly walk anywhere with the climber without tinging and clanging the metal off of sticks.
The number one draw back of saddle hunting is the learning curve. You basically have to re-learn all skills in terms of being up in a tree. Setting up your gear is way different depending on the gear you use. If you film your hunts, that skill will need to be re-learned as well. Your site picture is much different and the way you maneuver the camera will be different as well. DIY Sportsman has a great YouTube on this aspect.
The only other drawback I can really think of is the setup time and cost. If I’m being honest, I have to say that the difference in setup time over a climber is probably mostly due to my lack of experience. When I first started using the climber, I was much slower than I am right now while still learning to get set up using a sit drag as a saddle.
As for the cost, I imagine that as more competition becomes available the prices will come down. At the time of writing this, a tethrd mantis ready to hunt setup costs around $350. An H2 setup will cost you around $150. This cost does not include a way to get up the tree either.
To follow along with my Hunting check out the Matt’s Adventures Page
To See Gear Reviews check out the Gear Review page
I’ll start with the disclaimer. A sit drag is NOT designed to be used up in a tree. It’s designed to be used at ground level. That being said, if you are safety conscious, you can get away with using the sit drag as a saddle.
For a lot more information regarding saddle hunting, check out G2 Outdoors and DIY Sportsman on Youtube. Both channels have a lot of great information. I know I’ve sure learned a lot from each of them.