Tree Saddle Hunting With John Eberhart
In the last few years, hunting deer from a saddle has become extremely popular. Treestands will certainly always be the most popular way to hunt deer, but saddle hunting is creating a lot of buzz. One hunter who has been hunting deer from a saddle longer than most is Michigan hunter John Eberhart. Eberhart is a well-known writer and seminar speaker who specializes in killing mature bucks on public land. He started hunting from a saddle in 1981 and has never looked back. “I have published three books on whitetail hunting and in all three books, I discuss the advantages of hunting deer from a saddle.” Eberhart noted. “The advantages are many.”
KILL MORE BUCKS
For those who don’t understand what a tree saddle is, you have probably seen a lineman for an electric company use one. The person hangs in a cloth saddle and is tethered to a tree or pole so they can’t fall. In most cases, hunting from a saddle is safer than hunting from a treestand and far more versatile. “Most of the trophy class deer I have killed since 1981 have been killed while hunting from a saddle,” Eberhart said. “The majority of those bucks I wouldn’t have been able to kill if I was hunting from a treestand. When hunting from a saddle, I can hunt all the way around the tree I am in. A full 360 degrees. There are no blind spots. Regardless of which direction a buck comes from, I can get in position and shoot him.”
TREE SADDLE VERSATILITY
Another advantage of a saddle is how versatile it is. “Most treestand hunters have three or four treestands in trees and maybe they have a climber, but treestands are expensive and take a lot of time to setup,” Eberhart said. “I only have one saddle and have dozens of trees that are prepped and ready for hunting. I prep trees during the off season and all my trees are ready for me to hunt in during season. It is more cost effective and the number of spots I can hunt from during season are endless.”
ALMOST ANY TREE WILL WORK
When selecting a tree for a treestand, not every tree will work. Some trees are too crooked. Others have too many branches; others are too large in diameter. “When hunting from a saddle, I can hunt from almost any tree in the woods. When I find a good food source, runway or transition zone and I want to hunt near it, I can find a tree that fits my needs,” explained Eberhart. “A treestand hunter can’t say the same thing.”
HIDE BEHIND THE TREE
Another great benefit of hunting from a saddle is the odds of getting busted by a deer are greatly reduced. “I typically hunt facing the tree, so most of the time there is a tree between me and the deer I am trying to shoot. The tree breaks up my outline and allows me to draw my bow without getting busted,” said Eberhart.
A TREE SADDLE IS QUIET
A saddle is also quieter than a treestand. “A saddle is made of cloth and doesn’t make noise like a metal or aluminum treestand does. I can slip in and out of the woods without making noise, which is extremely important when hunting pressured public land bucks,” Eberhart noted.
HUNT AS HIGH IN THE TREE AS YOU LIKE
When hunting from a saddle, Eberhart can hunt from the nosebleed section. “I am not limited by a 15-foot ladder nor am I intimidated by being high in a tree because a saddle is so safe. Because of that, I often hunt 25 feet in a tree or more. Since I am so high in the tree, I rarely get busted by deer. When hunting from a saddle, the sky truly is the limit. I can hunt as high off the ground as I want. It is great,” Eberhart said.
The typical tree saddle tips the scales at a couple pounds. “Because a saddle is so lightweight, it is a great option for hunters who choose to hunt off the beaten path,” Eberhart said. “Even the lightest of treestands can be difficult to take into the woods if you are hunting a half mile or more off the road. A saddle is super light, easy to pack, and perfect for the deer hunter who wants to be lean and mean.”
It is important to note if you decide to purchase a tree saddle this fall, Fourth Arrow Camera Arms now has camera arm mobile/saddle kits that include a base and camera arm that are extremely lightweight and versatile. These kits were designed for the saddle hunter who wants to hunt off the beaten path and needs a camera arm kit that easily fits into a backpack.
Pic by Riske Outdoors