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BOWHUNTING's Guide to Tree Saddle Hunting

Tree saddles are arguably as safe, or even safer, than traditional treestands because a saddle hunter is connected to the tree at all times. (Photo courtesy of BowhuntingMag.com)
Tree saddles are arguably as safe, or even safer, than traditional treestands because a saddle hunter is connected to the tree at all times. (Photo courtesy of BowhuntingMag.com)

A new generation of highly mobile bowhunters is embracing the lightweight comfort and versatility of tree saddles

Have I told you how much I’m enjoying my saddle?”

It was the third text I’d received from friend Scott Hesterly in as many days. To say he was excited about his new tree saddle would be an understatement. He’d sent picture after picture of the various new parts of his saddle rig, from rope bridges and tethers to various carabiners and nifty little platforms he was experimenting with. To a seasoned treestand hunter, it all seemed a bit much.

I have to admit, though, I was intrigued. I consider myself a pretty hardcore bowhunter, and I take pride in going deep into places most people wouldn’t consider. That often means carrying a minimal amount of gear with extremely spartan accommodations. I’m the guy who’s willing to grind the hours away sitting on a half-inch piece of foam padding atop a Lone Wolf hand climber. Scott places much more of a premium on comfort than I do, which is why I was a bit confused about his newfound enthusiasm for saddle hunting.

Like most bowhunters, I’d heard of saddle hunting before. I even own a couple of books authored by John Eberhart, widely considered to be the “godfather” of saddle hunting. To be honest, though, the concept never really caught my attention. I think I looked at the pictures of his saddle and skipped over the chapters detailing his setup, which he labeled an “ambush hunting sling.”

Now – years after my first exposure to saddle hunting – here was my buddy (who I honestly didn’t consider as “hardcore” as me) touting its virtues. Not only was he telling me how comfortable it was, he was talking about things that mattered a whole lot to me, such as reduced pack weight and bulk and being able to get into virtually any tree he wanted. I had to be missing something, and I was determined to find out what.

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STARTING SEP 16, 2019
STARTING SEP 16, 2019