This article covers saddle hunting gear and accessories that will allow you to maximize your saddle hunting setup. There are a handful of ways to hunt out of tree saddles, and each way requires slightly different gear.
There are also gear add-ons, attachments, and modifications that can be implemented for an even more customized saddle hunting experience. We’ll be diving into those in this article so you can pick and choose what will best suit your personal style.
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Saddle Hunting Gear For Climbing A Tree
Mobile Climbing Sticks
There are many ways to climb a tree using a tree saddle. Climbing sticks are a great option, especially on public land. They are lightweight, mobile, very easy to use, and only take a few minutes to get high up into a tree. There are many climbing sticks to choose from and each has its own set of pros and cons. The best climbing sticks for you will depend on your own style. Climbing sticks are probably the most common way to climb a tree when saddle hunting.
Ameristep Screw-In Rod Steps
Ameristep screw-in steps are another option for climbing trees when saddle hunting. However, they shouldn’t be used on public land or without permission on private land.
These steps are great for stands that are productive year after year. You can prepare trees ahead of hunting season using these screw-in steps. This way you don’t need to carry or set up climbing sticks during the season. This makes getting set up in a tree saddle much faster, quieter, and easier.
On average it usually takes about 12 steps to make one treestand plus 4 more for the platform ring for a total of 16 steps.
Cranford Rope Steps
Cranford rope steps are a good lightweight alternative to Ameristeps when you don’t have permission or are hunting public land because they use a rope system to cinch to the tree. These are a very lightweight option for climbing trees.
Wild-Edge Inc. SteppLadder
These are compact climbing steps that work great for saddle hunting. They are innovative in that to secure these steps to trees they use simple cam-over technology. Additionally, they are compact and fit inside of each other for easy portability. There are many ways to use these steps with mods and add-ons (more on that later) which makes them an interesting choice.
Climbing Stick Mods
AmSteel Rope Mod
One of the most common mods for climbing sticks by saddle hunters is to replace the bulkier strap and noisier buckle with a very small AmSteel rope. This cuts back on noise and makes climbing sticks easier to transport. A great place to get these relatively inexpensive mods is through Custom AmSteel Products. They have solutions for many climbing sticks. You’re also able to choose the thickness of the rope and the length.
Top of Climbing Stick Platform Attachments
Climbing stick companies have started creating their own platforms that are designed to be used in conjunction with the tops of their climbing sticks. This makes the platform installation faster and easier than before. Below is an example of this with the Wild-Edge Steppladder step used in conjunction with Wild-Edge’s WEI Perch Platform.
Stealth Outdoors is a go-to for many hunters that are looking to silence their treestands or climbing sticks. They use a product called stealth strips that is well-known in the mobile hunting community. Stealth strips are fabric adhesive strips that are attached to noisy hunting equipment to prevent noise. They have kits put together for specific climbing sticks and treestand platforms so you get the exact amount of stealth strips.
Saddle Hunting Climbing Aiders
Climbing aiders help hunters get extra height per climbing stick but with very little additional bulk or weight added. There are a lot of different methods of using climbing aiders. I suggest watching some YouTube videos to determine a style you might like.
If you want to get high in a tree with the least possible climbing sticks, ladder aiders are a good choice. With multiple loop steps, you can really max out how far you can climb. I would recommend buying one set and figuring out a way to move it up with you for each ladder section, rather than buying one set for each climbing stick. There are a lot of YouTube videos on different climbing methods with ladder aiders.
Fixed Cable Aiders
Another option is cable aiders, these are fixed cables that are attached to the bottom of a climbing stick. The cable aider is a loop that you use as an extra step. This gives you extra height out of each stick. The cable aiders can often be pushed back into the climbing stick or conveniently wrapped around the stick when not in use so it’s out of the way. The nice thing about cables is that they are easy to get your feet into because they stay open.
Saddle Hunting Platforms
Saddles are used in combination with platforms. Saddle hunting platforms are a must-have piece of saddle hunting gear. The purpose of the platforms is to give your feet something to rest and maneuver on while you’re in your saddle. Without a platform, you will not be able to effectively hunt out of a tree saddle.
There are two main types of saddle hunting platforms; ring of steps platforms and single-piece platforms. Examples of both of these styles are shown in the following sections.
Ring of Steps Platforms
Ring of step platforms are objects that are placed around the diameter of the tree (in a ring) at the height you want to stand. These objects are radiate out from the tree about 90º and are generally 4-7 inches long.
Ameristep Ring of Steps Platform (Screw-In)
In addition to using the Ameristeps to climb a tree, you can also use them to create a ring of steps. They are a little noisy but are small and lightweight making them easy to carry. You only need 2 or 3 if you’re using them in combination with climbing sticks so they take up very little space compared to other saddle hunting platforms.
Bullman Outdoors Silent Approach Ring of Steps (Strap on)
Bullman Outdoors ring of steps is one of the more popular rings of steps. They’re a little bulky but are pretty lightweight because they’re made of plastic. They use a ratchet to tighten down to the tree, so you may want to look into an OCB buckle for more stealth. This ring of step option provides a good amount of surface area compared to other options.
Ring of Steps Over Center Buckle (OCB) & Strap
An over-center buckle is a great option for those who don’t like the noise a ratchet strap makes (I’m in that camp). These buckles cam over one time but will tighten down just about as good as a ratchet strap. They’re great for a ring of steps because they tighten down well, are easy to set up, and are quiet.
One-Piece Saddle Hunting Platforms
One-piece platforms are newer to the market than the older-school ring of steps. There are now a handful of companies that make these platforms. As the years progress these companies have continued to innovate their products. With each new version, these platforms become better and easier to use.
These are probably the most comfortable style of saddle hunting platforms on the market. The tradeoff is, they’re bulky and heavy compared to a ring of steps. You also don’t have the same maneuvering freedom as you would with a ring of steps.
Some of the best options on the market are the Lone Wolf Custom Gear – The Kuhnert’s Ambush Platform, Out On A Limb – The Ridge Runner Platform, Tethrd – Predator Platform, and Trophyline – The EDP Platform.
XOP Outdoors – Ultra Series Edge Saddle Platform
This is an example of a single-piece platform looks like, and it has pretty good reviews on Amazon. However, I would make sure to check out all of the options above.
Saddle Hunting Gear Hangers
Gear hangers are essential for saddle hunting. You’ll still need a place to hang your bow, quiver, and any other tools you like to bring with you to the field.
Strap-On Gear Hangers
Strap-on gear hangers for saddle hunting meet public land standards. You can hang multiple gear and gadgets from this tool below including your bow and quiver. Each hook slides so you can position it best. There are no ratchet straps involved, the buckle is small but strong, and quiet.
Screw-In Gear Hangers
Screw-in hooks work well because sometimes you need to have your equipment in a specific spot that strap-on hooks can’t fit into. It’s also very easy to place your bow to raise your bow on these hooks. These are very inexpensive garage hangers you can find at any hardware store.
Saddle Hunting Clothes
The Best Clothes For Saddle Hunting
Having the right clothes when saddle hunting is important. You might want to make a few adjustments in your clothing arsenal before saddle hunting to ensure comfort.
Coveralls are great clothing options for saddling hunting because when you’re in a saddle clothes tend to ride up or down. This causes your skin to eventually show which is not good in warm or cold weather. You might spend a lot of time fidgeting unless you’re wearing coveralls. Scentlok makes great lightweight early-season coveralls, and I’ve linked a great cold-weather coverall below.
Lot of Pockets
Clothes with many pockets are good for saddle hunting because, as you’ve seen in this post, there is a lot of pocket-sized gear that you’ll need to carry with you when hunting. For example, gear hangers, bow string, ring of steps, brush shears, rangefinder, bow release…etc.
Some saddle hunters like knee pads because when your knees are pressed against a tree for many hours they can get sore. Especially, when the tree has rough bark. You might need to try a few pars to see what works best, but I’ve linked to a comfortable foam pair with good reviews below:
One of the best things about saddle hunting is there are seemingly endless combinations of saddle hunting gear. This allows you to fully customize your saddle hunting setups to what will work best for your style of hunting. Additionally, more saddle hunting companies are coming into the market and more innovations are occurring. It’s an exciting time to be a saddle hunter!
Hopefully, this article has helped you find some useful saddle hunting gear for your setup. Is there anything you think should be added to this list? Let me know in the comments below.