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.