By: Kyle Hey
Rarely does a hunter’s mind drift far from the fall woods. Even while chasing spring gobblers or building summer bonfires, it’s easy to daydream about November. Those cool days spent in the saddle may seem far away now, but they will be back before you know it. Make sure f you are prepared by completing your saddle hunting off-season checklist.
Let’s face it, hanging off the side of a tree can be intimidating at first--and it should be! As hunters we take our safety into our own hands every time we leave the ground. So, we need a system that we have complete confidence in.
The Trophyline brand has a stellar safety record spanning decades. However, it is still important to inspect your equipment, regardless of the saddle you employ. Just like you would check the cables and straps of a treestand, inspect your saddle for excessive wear. Also, take time to check the ropes and knots that make up your tether and lineman’s belt for fraying and abrasion. This is recommended practice before every hunt and the off-season is a good time to develop this habit.
Tune your Saddle System:
Spring and summer are great times to try a new platform, climbing method, pack, or other saddle hunting accessory. If your equipment is all set, try tuning your current system. Even minor adjustments to your saddle hunting system can pay major dividends in the field. Trying a new bridge length or tether height, reworking how you organize your hunting pack, or grabbing some knee pads is never a waste of time if it makes you more efficient and comfortable in the tree.
Practice Your Setup:
There is a reason why Steph Curry is just as dangerous from the foul line as he is the open court-- practice. There are a lot more fun things to do in basketball than practice your foul shot, but foul shots can win games. Practicing your entire saddle hunting setup, from climbing method to platform setup, can feel like a repetitive waste of time, however, the safety and success of your hunt may depend on it.
Unlike Steph Curry and basketball, no one has offered me a multimillion dollar contract to hunt, but I do think my safety is priceless. Standing at the base of a tree in the predawn darkness is no time to realize that you don’t have complete confidence in your entire saddle hunting setup. Practicing your setup until it is second nature not only helps keep you safe, but it also helps reduce any hunt-ruining metal clanks as you climb.
Practicing with your bow is one of the most important and effective off-season tasks for any hunter. Saddle hunters should devote plenty of time to practicing from their saddle at hunting height. Practice every angle that you could imagine shooting a deer from, and then practice them again. Pivoting to shoot from a small platform is a lot different than from a stand. The practice you put in now will make sure that you are prepared for the unpredictability of your next shot in the field.
Scout, Scout, Scout:
So, you have your saddle, climbing method, and platform all set for hunting season? Don’t be dressed up with nowhere to go. Spring and summer are great times to dust off the hiking boots and scout new ground.
The lightweight mobility of a saddle leaves few places on the map off limits. Use that to your advantage and focus on areas that have difficult access, lack trees that would suit a treestand, or simply offer you the opportunity to out hike your competition.
Don’t get caught flat-footed this off-season. Saddle hunting will change the way you hunt, but only if you are prepared. Fitting these tasks in between your home and work responsibilities will prepare you for a successful fall.