Skip to main content

How Do I Shoot from a Tree Saddle?

How Do I Shoot from a Tree Saddle?
Mark Del Rizzo Illustrations

If there’s one aspect of saddle hunting that can be a little intimidating, it’s learning how to shoot in all directions. You’ll hear tons of aficionados extoling the benefits of “360-degree shooting,” but how exactly does someone go about that, and more importantly, is it easy enough that you can feel comfortable doing it in the moment of truth?

The key here is to practice. Set up a couple of feet off the ground with a few targets in different directions. To make it easy to discuss shots and where they’ll come from in relation to being in the tree, saddle hunters often use a clock face to reference where they’ll be shooting. Since you’re tethered with the tree directly in front of you, the tree is your 12 o’clock position; conversely, directly behind you is 6 o’clock. Obviously, that leaves directly off to your right as 3 o’clock, and to your left will be 9 o’clock.

The easiest shot, of course, is what saddle hunters refer to as the “strong-side shot.” If you’re a right-handed archer, this means everything that falls between 7 o’clock and 10 o’clock is pretty much a no-brainer, just as it is when shooting from a treestand. It would be wise to set up so most of your shots would naturally be in this zone, if possible. Having deer come from in front of you, allowing the tree trunk to hide your position, and then moving directly to your left for the shot is ideal.

strong side shot from tree saddle
The Strong-Side Shot

The next easiest shot — and quite possibly the most fun, and the one you probably see in more pictures — is the “drop shot” that occurs from the 5 o’clock to 7 o’clock position. This was the shot I took on the doe later in this article. I simply leaned back, twisted to my left and allowed my tether to fully support my weight as I braced my right foot against the trunk of the tree just above where I was standing. The nice thing about this position is it naturally puts you in that classic “T” form so many bowhunters neglect to maintain from a treestand.


drop shot from tree saddle
The Drop Shot

The “weak-side shot” is the one that always causes the most concern for beginning saddle hunters, and the one most observers point to as having the most movement. They’re right, of course — but it’s not any harder than for a traditional treestand hunter. In a stand, you must pivot all the way around on your stand and essentially end up facing the tree to shoot to your right (if you’re a right-handed shooter).


weak side shot from tree saddle
The Weak-Side Shot

There are a couple of different ways a saddle hunter can shoot an animal between 2 o’clock and 5 o’clock. One, if you’re on a pivot-style platform such as a Tethrd Predator, you could simply choose to stand and turn with little steps exactly as a treestand hunter would, except a saddle hunter would be turning away from the tree instead of toward it.

Additionally, a saddle hunter could choose to raise his or her bow over the bridge and point it at the target, rotating the hips and body to the right while coming to full draw. I personally prefer to allow the tether to hold my weight and rotate all the way around and backwards to my left. This allows me to “hang” at a more natural angle and helps maintain my “T” form during the shot.

top shot from tree saddle
The Top Shot

Finally, the “top shot” occurs by shooting at a target positioned between 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock. For a right-handed shooter, yousimply walk your feet to the left side of your platform, lean out to the left of the tree and take the shot. Some bowhunters find bracing their left knee on the trunk allows them a very steady base as they settle their pin on the target and squeeze the shot off.


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

The Science & History of Scent Thief

The Science & History of Scent Thief

Russel Epperson, inventor and partner of Scent Thief, explains how the company got its start, and why their products are so effective in blocking unwanted scent.

Mathews V3 - Flagship Bow for 2021

Mathews V3 - Flagship Bow for 2021

Mathews has announced two versions of their 2021 flagship bow, the V3.

New for 2021: Bear Redemption EKO, Legit RTH Compound Bows

New for 2021: Bear Redemption EKO, Legit RTH Compound Bows

Bear Archery's newest bows - Redemption EKO and Legit RTH - are light, adjustable and fast.

New for 2021: Elite Archery Bows, Slick Trick Broadheads and CBE Sight

New for 2021: Elite Archery Bows, Slick Trick Broadheads and CBE Sight

Learn more about two new Elite Archery bows, the Enkore and Remedy, two new broadhead from Slick Trick and a new site from Custom Bow Equipment (CBE).

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

With a new year comes a fresh batch of top-notch crossbows. Here are some of the best.New Crossbows for 2021 ATA Show

New Crossbows for 2021

Mark Demko - January 08, 2021

With a new year comes a fresh batch of top-notch crossbows. Here are some of the best.

Whether it's in a tree or on the ground, you've got options before the new hunting season arrives.New Tree Saddles, Stands and Blinds for 2021 ATA Show

New Tree Saddles, Stands and Blinds for 2021

Christian Berg - January 12, 2021

Whether it's in a tree or on the ground, you've got options before the new hunting season...

With a pull of the trigger, the R18's limbs will expand vertically thanks to the VertiCoil Cam System.New Ravin R18 Turns the Crossbow World Inside Out ATA Show

New Ravin R18 Turns the Crossbow World Inside Out

Mark Demko - January 20, 2021

With a pull of the trigger, the R18's limbs will expand vertically thanks to the VertiCoil Cam...

Get in shape for archery season with this step-by-step, 10-week plan and guide. 10-Week Bowhunting Training Routine How-To

10-Week Bowhunting Training Routine

Bill Winke - April 26, 2017

Get in shape for archery season with this step-by-step, 10-week plan and guide.

See More Trending Articles

More Treestands & Blinds

These tools and tactics are what minimalist tree saddle hunters use to climb!How Do You Get Up the Tree for Saddle Hunting? Treestands & Blinds

How Do You Get Up the Tree for Saddle Hunting?

Greg Staggs

These tools and tactics are what minimalist tree saddle hunters use to climb!

When it comes to the whitetail rut, being mobile could seal the deal!Be Mobile to Keep Up with the Whitetail Rut Whitetail

Be Mobile to Keep Up with the Whitetail Rut

Clint Casper

When it comes to the whitetail rut, being mobile could seal the deal!

We tested multiple broadheads to see how it affected the shot.Should You Shoot Through Ground Blind Mesh? How-To

Should You Shoot Through Ground Blind Mesh?

Jon E. Silks

We tested multiple broadheads to see how it affected the shot.

              By Staff Report    Big Dog Treestands has stepped into the ground blind arena forBig Dog Treestands 3-Axis Pinion Blind Treestands & Blinds

Big Dog Treestands 3-Axis Pinion Blind

Staff Report - October 28, 2010

By Staff Report Big Dog Treestands has stepped into the ground blind arena for

See More Treestands & Blinds

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Petersen's Bowhunting App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Petersen's Bowhunting subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now