Tree saddles are a big craze right now in the hunting industry. Especially for those mobile public land hunters. The greatest benefit Brody and I see is the reduced weight. We are often walking long distances to access areas that most other hunters are not going on public land. The less weight we have to carry the better and most tree saddles weigh less then most tree stands, so that is a definite benefit.
They are also pretty quick and easy to put up. That’s a benefit because you can get set up faster when doing hang and hunts and reduce your risk of spooking deer.
We have some friends in the industry who have recently started using them and have told us that once we use them we won’t go back to tree stands. We are considering using them, but at this point probably just for the camera man. This would reduce the weight we are carrying some and make set up a little quicker. At this time we feel like our shooting would suffer if we were to shoot from a tree saddle. We want to make sure we are taking ethical shots and at this point we are comfortable shooting from a solid platform. If we were championship archers or once we feel more comfortable shooting from a tree saddle we may make the switch. That is why we may just use them for the camera man. It is a pretty easy adjustment from running a camera from a stand and running one from a tree saddle.
One other factor is cost. At this time there are only a few companies making tree saddles for the hunting industry and prices are high. We can buy a super nice, lightweight tree stand for less then a full tree saddle rig would cost. And for those of us on a tight budget price is important.
We definitely have our eye on tree saddles and will no doubt probably use them at some point in the near future, but just how soon is still in question.
We don’t really still hunt in the traditional sense. Meaning we don’t usually go out with the intent to still hunt through certain areas hoping to catch bucks that are up walking around. It can be an effective tactic for sure, we just currently tend to prefer the hang and hunt method.
With that being said we do use the still hunting tactic, just in a different way. We use the still hunting technique when we are moving tree stands to a new location for another sit or doing some in season scouting with stands on our backs. When doing hang and hunts a big part of having success is once you go into an area for the first time, you usually have to tweak your tree stand setup to a slightly better position. That is when we use the still hunting tactic. Once we have the tree stands down from the original tree and we know which direction we want to go based on either seeing bucks in that direction or we believe there to be a better chance of a buck being that direction, we put the stands on our back and still hunt to that location.
We are essentially still hunting to our new tree stand location, not still hunting with the intent to shoot a deer along the way. Often times when we are tweaking that initial set up we are moving closer to where we think bucks are bedded. This means we have to go super slow and quiet in order to not spook them or other deer that are in the area. By still hunting you are doing the most you possible can to make sure deer don’t know you are in the area.
On multiple occasions we have been moving our tree stands to a better location for an afternoon hunt and 1) had bucks walk right towards us presenting shot opportunities or 2) still hunted to a new spot, set up the tree stands, only to return later that day and have a buck get up from his bed near the new set up.
By still hunting while you are doing in season scouting to move your tree stand or already know where you want to put your tree stand but had to tweak your set up, you allow yourself to learn valuable information that you would have missed had you just started walking to that new location.
So, the answer is yes, we do still hunt some, but it is probably in a slightly different manner then most other hunters do. We use it as a tactic to help us move tree stands closer to buck bedding, instead of the traditional tactic of slowly walking through the woods trying to intercept deer that are traveling through the area.
The answer, like most things in whitetail hunting, is that it depends. Probably the easiest way to answer is to take you through step by step how we go about figuring it out.
Scenario: Public land, early November, hang’n hunt, in an area you have scouted and marked on a map. So, you know how to get to the exact tree you are putting your stand in.
Our first thought when planning is, how long does it take to get to the piece of public we are hunting? For easy addition we will say 30 minutes. We usually add at least 5 minutes to each time just to make sure we have plenty of time. Because if something can go wrong, it usually does.
Next, we allow 10 minutes for getting gear ready at the truck.
The next step in the process is the walk in. Remember you might have a stand on your back, so it might take some extra time. Again, let’s say it is a 25 minute walk in, add 5 minutes just to be safe for a total of 30 minutes.
Here is where things get different for each hunter. How fast can you put your tree stand up? For us with two people and camera gear, we allow 30 minutes. Again, we play it safe. We would rather sit in the dark in the tree then be racing the sunrise. If you can do it in 15 minutes, perfect, allow for that amount. If it takes you 45, allow for that amount.
The last step we always do is add at least 15 minutes. This again is playing it safe and making sure we are in there plenty early and have time to sit in our stands in the dark and let things settle down a little. If you are quiet putting up your tree stand (which you should be) and allow that extra 15 minutes, that should be enough time not to spook the buck you are after. The easiest way to put it is that you need to be sitting in your tree stand waiting at least 15 minutes before legal shooting light.
From what we have seen bucks generally get to their general bedding location and then walk around a little before they bed down. We haven’t seen to many times where right at daybreak they are already bedded down. So, by allowing 15 extra minutes and putting your tree stand up quietly you should avoid spooking any buck that appears earlier then you expected.
In our scenario let’s say sunrise is 7:15. In Nebraska we can shoot a half hour before official sunrise. So, we can shoot (and it is light enough to shoot) by 6:45. So now let’s do the math on our times. The added 15 minutes is 6:30. A half hour to put stands up is 6:00. So that means for a 6:45 shooting time we are at the base of our tree 45 minutes before we can legally shoot and if you add the walking to our stand location, we are walking in by 5:30. Add in a 30 minute drive and 10 minutes to get gear ready and we have to leave home by 4:50. As you can see it makes for some super early mornings!
Hopefully that helps you plan your hang’n hunt setups for next year when you are hunting over buck beds and gives you an idea of the time frames that Brody and I use throughout the fall.
Well opening morning in Nebraska is upon us and we are excited to be back in a tree stand on public land in Nebraska. Watch the video below to see how our first hunt of the year turned out!
Why did we choose to hunt this spot?
We have talked about this location in the last couple of blog posts. So, for more information read the last 2 previous blog posts.
But, we specifically chose to hunt this stand because of its location in relation to the hunting pressure, known travel routes, and known buck bedding.
Multiple hunters, with multiple stand locations, hunt a large ag field to the north of this stand probably a quarter to half a mile away. They pressure this field hard and hunt on any wind direction. Opening day was a Saturday, so we knew that there would more than likely be pressure on that ag field. We wanted to use that pressure to our advantage.
With that pressure in mind we want to set up on a known travel route that bucks would use to escape that pressure. This is where scouting and taking notice of how deer used the property last year helped us. A small ditch runs off the ag field and heads south towards the river. Both bucks and does use this as a travel route. Which we saw all of last year.
We also know that bucks like to bed in an area just south of the river. We have seen multiple big bucks go into and out of that bedding area.
So, to put it all together, any buck coming back from feeding in the ag field, whether they encountered the hunting pressure or not, would likely use the small ditch as a travel route and head straight to the known buck bedding area. The area we put our stand was located at the edge of the river, on the travel route and we could see the entry and exit routes into the bedding area.
What did we learn from this hunt?
We learned that what we though would happen, happened. We just happened to be in the wrong stand location. Had we sat in the stand location where we sat most of last year we would have likely killed a buck on opening morning. But, last year we saw bucks using this travel route so we decided to move. Just bad luck. With that being said we are contemplating moving the stand back to the old location. There is a fine line between waiting to long and being to quick to make a decision. We are going to sit in this stand location one more time and see what happens and also hang a trail camera to help us decide if we should move the stand. We have seen bucks use both trails, so it was more than likely we just happened to be in the wrong stand on the right day and its just a matter of time before a buck walks by our current stand.
We also confirmed that the area we believed to be a buck bedding area is still a buck bedding area. This bedding area will be a focus for us the rest of the season. It is obvious that bucks feel safe in this area. All the does we saw bedding on the side of the river closest to the hunting pressure and this bucks and many bucks before him, always cross the river and put the river between them and the hunting pressure as an extra barrier.
What do we do next?
As mentioned earlier we are going to sit this spot one more time before we decided if we need to move the stand. We are also going to hang a trail camera in this location to help us in this decision. We don’t want to rush a decision, but we don’t want to sit in a spot that is ineffective.
We won’t be back to this property for a while, as we are headed to western Nebraska to meet up with the guys from The Hunting Public. After our western Nebraska trip we will be back on this property, probably somewhere near or at this stand location.
Opening day of Nebraska’s archery deer season is just around the corner. Opening day is Sept. 1st, but in Nebraska you are only allowed to hang stands on August 15th or later (although most don’t abide by that rule). We were busy on the 15th, so we headed out on the 16th to hang a few stands in areas we are going to want to hunt throughout the year.
We are hanging two “permanent” sets this year and mainly using a hang and hunt style throughout the year. These permanent sets give us a great place to hunt if we need a break from the early mornings and late nights of our hang and hunt style.
Watch the video below to see us hang these stands and to learn about why we are hanging in these specific locations.
Now let’s dive into more detail on why we are hanging stands in these specific locations.
What makes the “river stand” a great spot for a permanent stand location?
The reason we decided to make this spot a permanent stand location is that it sees heavy deer traffic throughout the year. We know from hunting this spot a lot last year, that there is consistent deer movement. This is because of the location of this area on the public land.
First, it is as far away from other hunters as you can get on this property. With that being said, we had multiple hunters hunting around us in this location, but it was only in the first part of November when out of state hunter numbers were high. We saw a significant drop in deer sightings during that time, but during other times of the year, deer movement was high.
Second, because of the terrain and habitat features of this location. It is located at the bend of the river. This creates bedding on the south side of the river and bedding on the north. Our stand is located between the two. Does are typically bedding on the north side of the river closer to the food source and bucks are bedding on the south side of the river. Our stand is located near the river where a small ravine flattens out and meets the river. The small dip or ravine runs straight towards an ag field 300 or so yards away. Bucks will almost always use these small dips to travel. It gives them a slight advantage. We saw last year that bucks and does were both using this dip as a travel route to go from bedding to food.
Last year we hung an observation stand 100 yards from this spot. This allowed us to see how deer were using the property. From that stand we could also see many hundreds of yards down the river to see where the deer were crossing the river. That shows the value of an observation stand. Observe what the deer are doing, and then move in to a more precise location.
What makes the “high wall” stand a great spot for a permanent location?
Again, it goes back to observations during the previous year. It took us a while to find this spot and realize how good it could be. This was because we had a trail camera in this location during the early season (September) and it got only a few pictures of does. So we quickly wrote this location off and didn’t hunt it. That was both a mistake and a great idea.
The camera was right, no bucks were using the area during the early season. We thought since there were no bucks on camera during the early season there would be no bucks the rest of the year. We were wrong. You can trust trail cameras, but only so much.
We were hunting an observation stand somewhat near that area during November, but never went back to the “high wall”. That was the best thing we ever did. With all the hunting pressure in the area, the bucks flooded in that area and used it as a bedding are throughout November and December. It was by pure luck that we happened to go back near this area and find that all the bucks were now using this area. Watch below!
Watch below to see all the mature bucks that were using this area as a bedding area.
You can’t always trust your trail cameras. An area that has no bucks during one time of year, may have a lot just a month later. Don’t write off areas completely until you have hunted that location and know for sure no bucks are in the area. We almost made that mistake last year as you saw. Also, find those areas where other hunters are not going. This spot is a great example of that.
Because of all the buck activity we saw during the late season in this area we chose to hang a “permanent” stand in this location. This doesn’t mean we are going to hunt this spot all the time. In fact we are going to hunt it on very specific location. Once again we put a trial camera in this location, with no luck. Which is fine, it just confirms what we already know. We have to wait to hunt this spot.
Our conditions for hunting this spot are that we are going to wait until late October (start of the pre-rut) to hunt this area. This creates an unhunted place for the bucks to go. We are only hunting on west or north winds. This close to buck bedding areas we need a perfect wind and we will only hunt it on that specific wind, no exceptions. We need the bucks to feel no human intrusion for this spot to be successful. We will probably hunt this spot no more than 8 times this year. But, every time we hunt it, the probability of seeing and shooting a buck is very high.
We also chose to use a “permanent” set because it is quieter and easier than doing a hang and hunt in that area and risking spooking deer by hanging a tree stand in the dark.
The big picture on why we are putting “permanent” sets in these spots is because we are using what we learned from last years observations of consistent deer movement and consistent buck activity. We are always learning from every hunt to fine tune our stand locations and tactics.