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Saddle hunting loadouts

1140 Views 22 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  smokin x's
I’ve been hunting on the ground for the last 3 years and have not had a lot of success. I love hunting out of tree stands and being in the air just haven’t had a hang and hunt set up before. I used to have private ground where I could hunt so weight was never really an issue. But now I’m doing a lot more public land hunting, trying to get in the deeper woods and would like to figure out what people are carrying in with them. I’m going for more of a minimalist setup and was trying to think of the items I NEED to bring in with me. I’m doing screw in steps and debating if I want to wear my saddle in. Im leaning more towards packing it in due to slippage that the double panels are known for. What does everyone carry in with them and what are some packs you use?
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For a pack I use a Huntworth Lodi for shorter hikes where I know where I'll set up. For longer hikes I use my Oregon Pack Works Orion/Rogue.

I wear my saddle on the way in if I'm not going far. I've never had any "slippage" with my two panel or single panel saddles.

I have my tether and platform attached to my pack. I have my lineman rope daisy chained across the front of my saddle. I have one dump pouch that has my daisy chain, s-biners, and hero clip for hanging my bow.

I either strap my climbing sticks to the bottom of my pack or carry them with a shoulder strap.

My pack has snacks, water, calls, knives, zip ties, and my knee pads.

I'll either keep my range finder on my pack or my Bino harness if I'm wearing it.
 
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I climb one stick. I back pack my gear in here is a the list of what’s in my back pack.
Deer tag
Gutting kit ( rubber gloves and some wipes)
Knife
Rachet Pruners ( to clip twigs and vines if need be.)
Binos
Range finder
Large loop strap to hang my pack and gear from
4 large S biners
One short bow hanger
Back band
Knee pads
Water or thermos depending on temps
Snacks
I sling my bow and loop my saddle and tether over my shoulder.
I strap my big BOB one stick to my backpack. My sys haulers on my saddle hold 40ft of canyon rope, my madrock, my pull up rope and my linemens belt. It’s more gear then you’d think but I pretty much have everything I need. My farthest walk is about one mile. I could likely lighten my load a little buy leaving a few items in the truck until I kill but I like to be prepared. Bit of a Boy Scout I guess
 

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I climb one stick. I back pack my gear in here is a the list of what’s in my back pack.
Deer tag
Gutting kit ( rubber gloves and some wipes)
Knife
Rachet Pruners ( to clip twigs and vines if need be.)
Binos
Range finder
Large loop strap to hang my pack and gear from
4 large S biners
One short bow hanger
Back band
Knee pads
Water or thermos depending on temps
Snacks
I sling my bow and loop my saddle and tether over my shoulder.
I strap my big BOB one stick to my backpack. My sys haulers on my saddle hold 40ft of canyon rope, my madrock, my pull up rope and my linemens belt. It’s more gear then you’d think but I pretty much have everything I need. My farthest walk is about one mile. I could likely lighten my load a little buy leaving a few items in the truck until I kill but I like to be prepared. Bit of a Boy Scout I guess
Almost an identical load out plus a few Prusic cords for good measure at height and different hanging hooks. Screw in steps are illegal on public I think too. Big BOB is the way to go!
 

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Almost an identical load out plus a few Prusic cords for good measure at height and different hanging hooks. Screw in steps are illegal on public I think too. Big BOB is the way to go!
I hunt permission mostly but if I hunt public I leave my screw in hanger at the truck and just hang my bow from an S-biner. Hard beat the Big BOB the cam over locks that sucker down. And it’s nice to have the level adjustment screw. Platform is big enough to be comfortable for an all day sit if I want. I always though saddle hunting was a bit over the top and for your crazy, face paint guys… but I love hunting from mine. It’s light. no gear left in the tree. One sticking let’s me hunt most any tree, anywhere. My wife calls it my metal therapy swing. I think it might be lol.
 

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I’ve been hunting on the ground for the last 3 years and have not had a lot of success. I love hunting out of tree stands and being in the air just haven’t had a hang and hunt set up before. I used to have private ground where I could hunt so weight was never really an issue. But now I’m doing a lot more public land hunting, trying to get in the deeper woods and would like to figure out what people are carrying in with them. I’m going for more of a minimalist setup and was trying to think of the items I NEED to bring in with me. I’m doing screw in steps and debating if I want to wear my saddle in. Im leaning more towards packing it in due to slippage that the double panels are known for. What does everyone carry in with them and what are some packs you use?
Honestly you can collect opinions till the cows come home on this one and you still will have 2-3 years minimum of always tweaking and swapping things out, refining your personal system after you begin getting out there. Saddle hunting is so versitile in what you can use that some once and done spending and exchange season to season is inevitable. I will comment though that you may wanna ditch the screw in steps. They take much longer to get up the tree and sorta defeat the purpose of being able to move trees with relatively little effort that the saddle otherwise affords. On public idk if you can have a better advantage then that. For other ideas, video is much better for this topic and helped me a lot, I suggest you head to Youtube and search vids on any and all suggestions you get here, the visual with how complex this ‘simple and minimalist’ hunting method can get really helps makes informed decisions on what u may wanna try.
 

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My one-stick setup:
Mystery Ranch Beartooth 80
Eastern Woods Outdoors Stick with ultimaider
Predator Platform
Cruzr XC saddle
45’ of canyon rope on a Madrock as a tether and rappel line when I’m done
45’ of dynaglide as a bow pull up rope and also a pull-down method for retrieving rope after a rappel
6’ canyon backup tether with a roll n lock
Couple good carabiners, some with two gates and some with 1 gate removed to act as a simple hook
Tether HYS strap with a Heroclip Carabiner for hanging bow
Rest of my pack stuff is just basics like food water first aid kill kit etc.
 

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I climb one stick. I back pack my gear in here is a the list of what’s in my back pack.
Deer tag
Gutting kit ( rubber gloves and some wipes)
Knife
Rachet Pruners ( to clip twigs and vines if need be.)
Binos
Range finder
Large loop strap to hang my pack and gear from
4 large S biners
One short bow hanger
Back band
Knee pads
Water or thermos depending on temps
Snacks
I sling my bow and loop my saddle and tether over my shoulder.
I strap my big BOB one stick to my backpack. My sys haulers on my saddle hold 40ft of canyon rope, my madrock, my pull up rope and my linemens belt. It’s more gear then you’d think but I pretty much have everything I need. My farthest walk is about one mile. I could likely lighten my load a little buy leaving a few items in the truck until I kill but I like to be prepared. Bit of a Boy Scout I guess
Have you put all your gear on a scale to see what it actually weighs? My Millennium M7 microlite stand, four Tethrd Skeletor sticks, shoulder straps and a youth size camo backpack with pretty much the same gear you are bringing along (minus snacks and water) is about 22#....total. The stand and sticks are low profile so they are not catching on brush and carry pretty easily. Just wondering how we compare....apples to apples.
 

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Like Jforager33 said, the tweaking of your setup is never ending. When I first started, I would get frustrated enough to want to throw everything in a wheelbarrow. Keeping things quiet and getting up the tree and into your spot are often competing goals, so you have to be patient. One little item I really like is the Doyle's gear hoist to bring my bow up. It automatically retracts like a tape measure and is quiet, so it's both quiet and quick, which is why I probably like it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for all the suggestions so far guys, I know there is a lot of opinions and a lot of tweaking. I want to see what the commonalities all are from people that already do the hunting I’d like to start doing. As far as the screw in steps are concerned, I know it varies state to state but here in Kansas, screw in steps are permitted on public grounds. The one sticking may be an option I will consider too. I do like the idea of having a ring of steps as well. Going easier on the wallet to start out is definitely the ideal goal through all of this as well.
 

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I hunt permission mostly but if I hunt public I leave my screw in hanger at the truck and just hang my bow from an S-biner. Hard beat the Big BOB the cam over locks that sucker down. And it’s nice to have the level adjustment screw. Platform is big enough to be comfortable for an all day sit if I want. I always though saddle hunting was a bit over the top and for your crazy, face paint guys… but I love hunting from mine. It’s light. no gear left in the tree. One sticking let’s me hunt most any tree, anywhere. My wife calls it my metal therapy swing. I think it might be lol.
Agreed, when everything goes right and the weather is good it is peaceful. Careful with that cam over on the BB. It’s not built for that and I have a close friend with firsthand experience. That stick bar bent right over about 30° and ruined his stick at about 30’, scary day for him. He called OOAL about it and they advise never to cam that or any of their one sticks and replaced it. Just a word of caution.
 

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You'll probably start out carrying in more than you actually need and then subtract and add things here and there to find what works best for you. I started out with a two panel saddle and thought it was perfect but then tried a Cruzr XC and love it more.
 
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Have you put all your gear on a scale to see what it actually weighs? My Millennium M7 microlite stand, four Tethrd Skeletor sticks, shoulder straps and a youth size camo backpack with pretty much the same gear you are bringing along (minus snacks and water) is about 22#....total. The stand and sticks are low profile so they are not catching on brush and carry pretty easily. Just wondering how we compare....apples to apples.
My kit likely weights the same or 1-2 lbs less that’s all. I see only a few advantages
But for me it’s worth it.
1) I can climb as high as the length of rope I am willing to carry
2) I can climb about any tree
3) I have many more shots I can take by swinging around the tree
4) I can swing to hide behind the tree on a deers approach
5) rappelling down is fun as hell and it’s really fast to get down and out when I’m ready
7) no metal to rattle and it never creaks

honestly.. I personally find it more comfortable than my tree stands. I think because the rope holds up some of my fat arse, it is a bit easier on my knees and back for a long sit. But I do find you need the right boots to keep your feet from being sore while standing on the stick on a long hunt.
 

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Agreed, when everything goes right and the weather is good it is peaceful. Careful with that cam over on the BB. It’s not built for that and I have a close friend with firsthand experience. That stick bar bent right over about 30° and ruined his stick at about 30’, scary day for him. He called OOAL about it and they advise never to cam that or any of their one sticks and replaced it. Just a word of caution.
No issues with mine so far. But thank you for the heads up. I will keep it in mind. I never find it necessary to climb to 30 ft. 3 moves with a 3 step ulti-aider gets me about 18ft that’s about as high as I go most hunts,
 

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My kit likely weights the same or 1-2 lbs less that’s all. I see only a few advantages
But for me it’s worth it.
1) I can climb as high as the length of rope I am willing to carry
2) I can climb about any tree
3) I have many more shots I can take by swinging around the tree
4) I can swing to hide behind the tree on a deers approach
5) rappelling down is fun as hell and it’s really fast to get down and out when I’m ready
7) no metal to rattle and it never creaks

honestly.. I personally find it more comfortable than my tree stands. I think because the rope holds up some of my fat arse, it is a bit easier on my knees and back for a long sit. But I do find you need the right boots to keep your feet from being sore while standing on the stick on a long hunt.
Very good reply, thank you. I have a friend who saddle hunts who demonstrated it for me a while back. I see a pro for saddle hunting as the quickness of descending with a rope if you one-stick up. That would be a benefit in the dark on an evening hunt. Climbing as high as you desire really isn't because I don't typically hunt over 20' due to shot angle. If the tree or scenario required that, I would choose a different tree. How can you have "no metal to rattle" when your caribiners and descender device are metai?

From watching videos of saddle hunters, a big con is movement. Sure, you can move to get to a broader shot angle than a stand, but guys tend to fidgel and shift around while just hanging like that. Lots of footage to back that up. Also can you really shoot all those angles the saddle allows? Another con is comfort....you mentioned the "right boots".....plus what about knee pads or a ring of steps or platform? Those are also metal,eh?

Honestly, it seems a wash to me......the pros and cons of saddle compared to a stand pretty much balance out....just as the actual weight comparion pretty much balance out when guys are completely honest about what they carry in. Glad you love it.....be safe.
 

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I tried a couple different packs & really didn't like having to stop & take it off & set it down if I needed something. Also didn't like having a big pack getting in the way in the tree. Switched over to a direct action messenger bag for everything. Onestick, or platform & sticks. They all pack easily. So much easier to get to everything. Hangs in the tree better & is way easier to organize & stay organized. DA also has a lot of molle attachment to do anything imaginable. I never have to lay my bag on the ground either. I can deploy everything at the base of the tree without having to remove it like a back pack. Works great for times when you need to get to something while you are climbing or hiking.

The way the compartments & molle is set up, I can fit more stuff into it then my popup 28. That just sits in a closet now. Good luck getting something out the bottom of it (popup) in the tree. I added two buckle molle straps to the front under the lid & two at the bottom. The combination of how & what I can pack is infinite.
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Motor vehicle Automotive tire Wood Military camouflage Asphalt
 

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Very good reply, thank you. I have a friend who saddle hunts who demonstrated it for me a while back. I see a pro for saddle hunting as the quickness of descending with a rope if you one-stick up. That would be a benefit in the dark on an evening hunt. Climbing as high as you desire really isn't because I don't typically hunt over 20' due to shot angle. If the tree or scenario required that, I would choose a different tree. How can you have "no metal to rattle" when your caribiners and descender device are metai?

From watching videos of saddle hunters, a big con is movement. Sure, you can move to get to a broader shot angle than a stand, but guys tend to fidgel and shift around while just hanging like that. Lots of footage to back that up. Also can you really shoot all those angles the saddle allows? Another con is comfort....you mentioned the "right boots".....plus what about knee pads or a ring of steps or platform? Those are also metal,eh?

Honestly, it seems a wash to me......the pros and cons of saddle compared to a stand pretty much balance out....just as the actual weight comparion pretty much balance out when guys are completely honest about what they carry in. Glad you love it.....be safe.
Honestly I may have missed the biggest pro to saddle hunting although there is an argument to it as well.
I am attached to the tree by my rope the entire time. Being fair you can do the same with tree stands with safe lines and linemans belts. But more gear to haul in.
The rattle of the carabiner I just tape to silence.
Believe it or not you really can shoot all the angles.
As for comfort I have actually taken a short nap in my saddle. Knee pads add comfort if you want to use them to knee into the tree. The ring of steps again is a preference thing .

This post was not to argue just help suggest some advantages. I still own tree stands and hunt from them but I won’t lug in multiple stands anymore and set up for different winds before the season or pull down after season. I feel the saddle offers me the best mobile set up and versatility. It keeps the deer guessing as to where I am and I can always set up for the wind. If it switches mid hunt I rappel down and move quickly to a different tree if necessary.

My best advise is use every method available that give to the advantage you desire. I hunt tree stands, ladder, hang on, self climbers, Ground blinds and now my saddle. Hunt the way you feel most comfortable and safe.
Good luck out there.
 

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Honestly I may have missed the biggest pro to saddle hunting although there is an argument to it as well.
I am attached to the tree by my rope the entire time. Being fair you can do the same with tree stands with safe lines and linemans belts. But more gear to haul in.
The rattle of the carabiner I just tape to silence.
Believe it or not you really can shoot all the angles.
As for comfort I have actually taken a short nap in my saddle. Knee pads add comfort if you want to use them to knee into the tree. The ring of steps again is a preference thing .

This post was not to argue just help suggest some advantages. I still own tree stands and hunt from them but I won’t lug in multiple stands anymore and set up for different winds before the season or pull down after season. I feel the saddle offers me the best mobile set up and versatility. It keeps the deer guessing as to where I am and I can always set up for the wind. If it switches mid hunt I rappel down and move quickly to a different tree if necessary.

My best advise is use every method available that give to the advantage you desire. I hunt tree stands, ladder, hang on, self climbers, Ground blinds and now my saddle. Hunt the way you feel most comfortable and safe.
Good luck out there.
I'm not replying to argue or debate your preference for saddle hunting and I likewise employ several of the other bowhunting options you noted. I am mentoring a younger fellow from a desire to shoot a bow and eventually hunt to making all that a reality. We are progressing nicely and threads like this help me understand the saddle side more fully. I certainly will not dissuade him from considering or trying a saddle, but also want to present the topic in a realistic light. Some have tried and hated it.....others clearly enjoy it and see it as a very viable approach under the right circumstances.

In regards to the lineman's belt or lifeline comment, I wear an RC harness and use an HSS rope anchor as my lineman's "rope" by adding a second caribiner to attach to the RC main belt while ascending. When I am at height and safely on stand, I simply reconfigure it to be my tree attachment......thus no extra weight. When using my climber, I wear the same RC harness and teather, but utilize a Qsafe that goes around the tree at ground level and am attached from the ground up to safe return. So that is a wash as well.....in terms of added gear and such. Simply a matter of comfort and familiarity in approach. Neither is safer or more dangerous or significantly less weight when the truth be told......unless you are comparing a guy hauling in cheap steel sticks and a heavy steel stand to a typical saddle setup.
 

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The guys saying the pro's about saddle hunting (IMHO) just never had a good stand. I'm more comfortable, can stand or sit, don't have a bag full of ropes and attachments, and can shoot most of the way around the tree. Plus if I do have to move to shoot around the tree it's a LOT less movement to pivot on the stand than to switch the bow around the tree when the animals are on the wrong side.

Plus I have my bow on the holder and it's right in front of me with a lot less movement when I need it.

I'm not anti-saddle but I'm less opt to try something to fix a problem that doesn't exist......so I haven't bought into a lot of the saddle pros because I have seen them in action. It's the same as many things in archery..........if you like it then go for it but understand it's no magical unicorn that is all pros like many people act. It's just the new kid on the block.........

Even at 61 I can carry my stand for as long as I want to just like this and the waist pack spun around to the front is out of the way and has everything I need. I put a folding saw and ratchet cutters in there and that'll get me in most trees.....at least in the SE. Where you hunt matters of course.

It's so light and easy to pack I take it in & out on my own land............lol

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I felt the same way as some of you regarding the saddle before I tried it. Forget the "on the fly" aspect, I've never been so comfortable in a tree. So much so that my hang on's are noticeably less comfortable now (even my mesh seat milleniums). I pre-peg trees so all I need to do is bring my saddle and bow. In no way, shape or form would I ever take my lone wolf hand climber over the saddle now. Not even debatable to me.
 
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