After more than 18 years of hunting, I switched to saddle hunting (so far exclusively).
I have hunted on the most dangerous man-made treestands in Minnesota, used a Summit treestand for several years in 3 states, built wooden ladders from surrounding trees using a chainsaw, drill, and screws, I’ve hunted out of expensive ladder stands, and I’ve hunted on the ground (a lot).. needless to say, this is not my first Rodeo.
Saddlehunting (last year) was a mind-blower
” WHAT?!! ” Is what I said. “How did I miss this?” Seriously, I had no idea how it was possible that I missed this trend. Well, most of the places I frequented online were “traditional” forums. Even if I had seen “saddle hunter” online, I likely would have responded, “I don’t ride horses… next!” After watching all the usual suspects in every video I could consume, I bought in and couldn’t wait for the 2019 hunting season.
To be cautious, I practiced with 2 sticks and my Tethrd Mantis. It turns out that I’m a slow learner. I almost died because I put the Ropeman 1 backwards on my rope and was trying to pull the end of the rope into me instead of out away from me (don’t ask – it was not my finest moment )
I fixed that minor mistake that almost killed me… and finally figured it out. My first attempt at saddle hunting during the season was Oct 4th and it was a disaster. This failed attempt resulted in 90 minutes of frustration, swearing, and sweating, so I hunted next to a deadfall tree for 30 minutes when a hunter, apparently 150 yards away, cursed me out and walked to a different area. He and his son must have been watching me struggle to get up the tree. I don’t typically understand sign language, but there was no mistakin’ what he was saying to me.
Saddle Hunting Gets Easier
After the 2nd and 3rd time, I was markedly better. Still not comfortable, but better and slightly faster at getting up the tree. A 1 1/2-year-old 8-point buck walked right past me in a spot I never would have been able to set up with my summit treestand and a ladder would have telegraphed my position. I am an excellent shot with a bow and arrow, even with old bows
(I shot a PSE Nova for 5 years and could hit 50 yards without a hitch.. I was shooting a Matthews that was dead-on-balls accurate). I missed the shot.. 15 yards – pitiful. Pitiful!!!
Being Mobile Helps
The next day I set up on a tree near a scrape. Here he comes again! That same 8-pointer walked straight in after I put out some Tinks 69 on a drag rag. Boom!!! Missed him again (I don’t miss!). The year before, I hit a doe at 40 yards quartering to me with my Hoyt, one blade sliced the heart, she walked 30 yards and died. I don’t miss!! But the point is that I was able to be mobile and get in trees that were impossible before. Now I need to practice shooting out of a saddle.
Perhaps it was being nervous seeing the deer for so long and watching him walk right to me (normally it happens so fast, I don’t get a chance to be nervous).
Last night, I was in a tree so small I would have never thought possible before – but with saddle hunting and sticks, it is possible.
Going Deeper Means Seeing More Deer
In all, I’ve seen likely 5X more deer since saddle hunting than before.
On the to-do list for 2019-2020:
- practice shooting out of a saddle more
- begin testing the saddle to have more confidence (still seems odd to put all my weight on it)
- get a better set of sticks. I like the look of the Hawk Heliums.. they seem sturdy.
- travel lighter, set up trees before-hand so less weight walking in
- get set up 30 min before shooting light instead of 30 min after sunrise… “hello!!!”
- stay at a local hotel/motel instead of driving in the morning of… The 2-hour drive is killing me.