posted by Jim on Mar 21
Spring is here! I don’t really believe it, because they are calling for 6 to 9 inches of snow today. But, one thing is for sure, when the days start to get longer and the geese show up on the frozen lake, I start thinking about turkey hunting. It is such a welcoming thought, after a few months off from deer hunting, and even the predator rifle is retired to the closet. As an all around sportsperson, you have a lot to look forward to, as the seasons change. For me, spring represents turkeys, morels, and introducing kids to the outdoors.
Why is turkey hunting such a great sport? I like it because it is another game in the outdoors which involves the calling of the wild. Any time you can get an animal to respond to your calling, it just makes the hair stand up on your neck. Hearing a big Tom turkey gobble in response to your ability to mimic a fly down cackle, is like a kid opening his first gift on Christmas morning. I get a grin from ear to ear and my heart starts beating a million miles an hour. It makes the long walk and the set up all worth while. I have had the privilege of guiding many into the dark and into a turkey blind. I always love to see peoples eyes light up, as they hear the first gobble, especially when it is coming from a lot closer than expected! Young and old, the facial expressions are like a kid in a candy store. Read the rest … »
posted by Jim on Mar 6
It was opening morning 2007 and a friend of mine was hunting one of his best locations. Just after daylight three bucks strolled into view, a spike and two mature ten pointers. The first buck that came into range was one of the big ones. Sitting in his treestand my friend was unable to draw, because he was silhouetted and in plain sight of the other two bucks. He just couldn’t move. Thinking he would surely get a shot at the second big buck, he waited. Both the second ten pointer and the spike meandered in close, to ten yards, but unfortunately on the wrong side of the tree. Despite his best efforts, my friend was unable to draw because the trunk was in the way. Both mature bucks casually meandered away unscathed, never to be seen again.
Has this ever happened to you? Most bowhunters with a few years under their belts have had this experience. It is common knowledge that mature bucks tend to approach at unexpected angles, and do the unexpected. It is also a fact that even in moderately pressured areas you usually won’t get a second opportunity at a mature buck. You simply have to take advantage of the opportunities when they arise. But how can you do this? The answer is simple, but will require a change in your current thinking regarding treestand use. Its time to start bowhunting Saddle Style.
History of Sling and Saddle Hunting
Hunting slings have been around for a long time. The beginning was made about thirty years ago when the Anderson Treesling came on the market. I got my hands on a Treesling only a couple years after their inception and have been hunting from this type of system ever since. The Treesling has been followed through the years by several other manufacturers with similar designs and ideas. The development has recently culminated with the Tree Saddle line manufactured by Trophyline. I currently use one of their Ambush Saddles, so the use of this is what I will focus this article on. The main concept is to hang in a tree out of a sling, without a platform of any kind. For longtime treestand users this might sound quite unorthodox, cumbersome, and uncomfortable. The reality though is just the opposite.
The advantages of Saddle Style hunting are numerous. The first advantage to hunting out of a Saddle is an increased shooting zone. While hunting from a treestand there is always about a 90° area behind the tree where it is impossible to shoot. This unshootable quarter is eliminated by use of a Saddle system. Instead of your feet resting on a platform, you place treesteps around the tree. This allows you to swing around the trunk and shoot in any direction. Of course, when you set up a tree you make it so that your main anticipated shot is such that you don’t have to move, but if that buck comes in from the wrong side you can still make the shot.
The next main advantage of hunting from a Saddle is general mobility. A Saddle itself weighs only a couple pounds, and can be worn while walking in the woods. A compliment of accompanying tree-steps only weighs a couple more pounds. The total weight is far less than even the lightest treestand, and not nearly as bulky. This gives a bowhunter more mobility from the get-go. Who likes to carry a treestand through the woods anyway? Mobility is also increased in another sense. There are far fewer limitations to what trees you can hunt out of while using a Saddle. It is possible to hunt just about anywhere there is a tree big enough to climb. The situation becomes more of finding a good hunting location and making a tree work, instead of finding a tree where you can hang a stand. It is possible to hunt from a saddle in trees with a trunk size of six inches to several feet in diameter. I have even hunted out of giant cottonwoods where it would be impossible to hang a treestand.
Another reason to use a Saddle is cover. When you sit in a Saddle you half lean/sit away from the tree which makes you look like part of the trunk, or at least a large branch. This is an advantage over sitting on display in a treestand. Even more important though is that when deer approach from a certain direction you can move around the tree, keeping the trunk between you and them. When you do this there is nothing for the deer to see except your feet on your steps, and perhaps an eye peeking around the trunk. In a treestand you are stuck out in the open, and have no place to hide, when deer cross to where they can see you. Allowing deer to pass totally unaware of your presence is a big step to success on mature bucks. Most of the time they are the last ones to show up. If the deer before them pick you out, those mature bucks are far less likely to show themselves.
And there is more. One major problem with treestands is theft. Leave a treestand in the woods and it might just not be there when you return, especially if you hunt public land or heavily hunted private property. Since you keep your Saddle with you. There is no concern that it might not be there when you return to a tree to hunt. There are also no metal parts, making the Saddle almost completely silent.
You are probably wondering about the safety and comfort of a Saddle. All Tree Saddles are TMA certified, and are almost impossible to fall out of. They come with a climbing harness and leg and shoulder straps. You are attached to the tree at all times. I feel so comfortable in mine that I doze quite a bit hanging comfortably in my tree. Set up correctly, these are the most comfortable stands on the market.
Incorporating a Tree Saddle into your selection of hunting tools could make a huge difference in your bowhunting success. It has increased the Eberhart’s bowhunting success dramatically. For more detailed information about how to use a Saddle please visit: www.eberhartsbowhunting.com