Saddle Hunting 101
What is saddle hunting? Why would you hunt out of saddle? Do I use it with a tree stand? Is it safe? Is it comfortable?
These are questions everyone has about saddle hunting at the beginning. Never fear, we’re here to help.
WHAT DO I NEED TO GET STARTED?
First of all, you’ll need the Mantis saddle or the Phantom saddle. If you’re new to saddle hunting, we recommend the MicroFit Adjusters (for the Mantis only) to really dial in your comfort. If you’re familiar with saddle hunting, you may opt for the SYS Hauler to conveniently store your ropes or accessories on your saddle.
Next, you’ll need a Tether and a Lineman belt. The Lineman Belt ensures you are connected to the tree from the ground up to hunting height. It also allows you to more easily, and safely set up your climbing method while you climb. The Tether attaches you to the tree once you get to hunting height and is your main safety line during the hunt. If you’re comfortable with knots and rope selection, you can always buy ropes from a reputable climbing equipment re-seller. However, we’re the only company in the world offering factory-spliced tethers and lineman belts. The factory splices are stronger than climbing knots and also serve to reduce weight and bulk. We feel like smaller, lighter, and stronger is the way to go. Also, our Tether and Lineman belts come with upgraded load-rated carabiners that work hand-in-hand with the Ropeman 1 ascender.
After you’re connected to the tree, you’ll need something for your feet. We recommend the Predator Platform.
That’s it! You need a saddle, some safety ropes, and a platform. After that, you can add accessories like the SYS Hauler, the Mantis Recliner for increased comfort on long hunts, or the SBW Heater for those late-season hunts. However, all of these are nice-to-haves, not necessities.
IS IT SAFE?
Unfortunately, many hunters don’t use any type of safety device with their tree stand. This is sad, but true. Saddle hunters don’t have a choice. The Tethrd Mantis saddle connects to the tree with built-in safety devices that make it nearly impossible to fall when used properly under normal hunting conditions. There’s also a big difference between how safety harnesses and hunting saddles approach falls. Safety harnesses do nothing to stop you from falling from the tree. They are designed to catch your fall and stop you from hitting the ground. Conversely, the Tethrd Mantis is designed to prevent your fall in the first place.
IS IT COMFORTABLE?
One of the most commonly asked questions relates to comfort; Is a Tethrd Mantis and Phantom comfortable? The short answer is “yes.” Saddles are very comfortable. Most users find them superior to traditional hang-on tree stands right out of the box while a few users experience mild discomfort. Minor discomfort can be present in the hips (hip pinch) or lower back. This is almost always caused by improper setup techniques or having the wrong size. Another comfort factor is something we like to call “saddle shape.” Some users’ bodies are slower to adapt to different pressure zones and angles created by hanging from a tree. The more time you spend in your saddle, though, the more your body will adjust to the system and your saddle shape will improve dramatically. I call this getting in saddle shape.
WILL THE DEER SEE ME?
The Tethrd Mantis and Phantom allow you to hide behind the trunk for the ultimate camouflage. You no longer have to stick out like a sore thumb. Saddle hunters generally set up facing the direction in which the deer are expected to travel. This allows the hunter to keep the tree trunk in between the deer’s line of sight; thus, hiding the hunter from the deer’s view and eliminating the hunter’s outline completely. There is no more stealthy way to hunt from an elevated position.
For most hunters, it’s easier if you see the product in use to understand how the system works. We’re working on updating our Video Guides, but in the meantime, you can check out general videos from the Tethrd Team
WHAT ABOUT MY FEET?
Since saddle hunters are suspended from a tether in the tree, it is important to have a platform. It serves two main purposes. 1 – It gives the hunter a place to rest their feet and take some weight off the Saddle if necessary. 2 – It allows the hunter to pivot or move around the tree in order to achieve a 360-degree shooting range. The platform is placed at the top of the hunter’s climbing aid and should only be climbed on AFTER the hunter has attached his tether to the tree. Just like traditional tree stands, most accidents happen during the transition from climbing aid to the platform. With a saddle, you can virtually eliminate the chance of falling during this transition. You can learn more about the Tethrd Predator Platform here.
HOW DO I CLIMB THE TREE?
Climbing methods are not specific to saddle hunting. All hunters who choose to hunt from an elevated position must first climb a tree. There are a lot of options for climbing trees, from inexpensive stick ladders (Walmart or Sportsman’s Guide), portable climbing sticks (Lone Wolf, Muddy Pro, Hawk Heliums, etc.), screw-in steps, Silent Approach steps from Bullman Outdoors, and many others. Your climbing method will depend on your hunting style and what is legal in your area. For the ultimate discussion of climbing methods, we recommend visiting the Climbing Method forum on SaddleHunter.com
HOW DO I SHOOT?
There are four different shots saddle hunters can take. We’ll address them from the perspective of right-handed shooters moving counterclockwise around the tree. The four shots are: the Strong Side Shot (10 o’clock to 7 o’clock), the Drop Shot (7 o’clock to 5 o’clock), the Weak Side Shot (5 o’clock to 2 o’clock), and the Top Shot (2 o’clock to 10 o’clock). It’s also worth mentioning that proper shooting form is easier to maintain in a saddle versus a traditional tree stand. The geometry created by the saddle makes the “T” form more natural.
WHAT SIZE SADDLE SHOULD I BUY?
Sizing your Mantis Saddle isn’t an exact science. If you’re on the edge of a size, there are a few things to consider. If you’re pretty fit with an athletic build, you’ll probably be fine with the smaller size. If you have a stockier build, you may want to size up. The most user-friendly measurement is waist size. Up to a 34″ waist is a Medium. 34″-40″ is a Large. 40″+ is an XL. If you’re between sizes, your height/weight can factor in. If you’re trim and athletic, you should size down. If you’re shorter and stockier, you should probably size up. The width of your pelvis is the most crucial factor in determining the appropriate saddle size. People with more athletic builds typically have a narrower pelvis, while individuals with more robust body types tend to have a wider pelvic structure. Winter layering won’t affect this sizing much unless you hunt in EXTREME temperatures and have really bulky layers. For example, a hunter with a waist size of 34, who is 6’3″ 190 lbs, who hunts in Tennessee with mild-moderate winters should choose a Medium. However, a hunter with a 34″ waist, who is 5’6 180 lbs, who hunts in North Dakota with severe winters should choose a Large. Once you receive your Mantis, other things will factor into your comfort like tether height and the position of the Mantis on your body.
For a complete guide to fit and setup, visit our YouTube channel.
Predator Platform$189.99 – $209.99
Features - Top and edge traction - Adjustable leveling bolt - ZipCam strap included
Weight3lbs for standard size, 4lbs for XLSelect options
Ropeman 1 Ascender$45.40
Weight2.2 ozAdd to cart
Features 3/4" T Hook, multi-loop for endless versatility
Weight3 ozAdd to cart
Phantom Saddle$274.98 – $299.99
Features - Dynalite™ UtiliBridge™ - Comfort Channels™ - Freedom Belt