Skip to main content

How Do You Get Up the Tree for Saddle Hunting?

How Do You Get Up the Tree for Saddle Hunting?
Bullman Outdoors Silent Approach

Saddle hunters, by and large, are minimalists. Shaving every possible ounce from their setup is a top priority. So, they’ll use climbing sticks — but they’ll cut their length down so that instead of having three steps available, it reduces the stick to two steps. They’ll then make up for that lost step by tying on a lightweight rope step (think of a stirrup on a horse saddle). Just as importantly, it reduces bulk. A 20-inch stick simply packs easier than one that’s a full foot longer. Lone Wolf climbing sticks, Millennium M250, Muddy Pro, Hawk Heliums and Dan Infalt’s Beast Sticks are all frequently used.

Another popular climbing method is to use a strap-on step such as those from Bullman Outdoors and Eastern Woods Outdoors. Saddle hunting is perfect for going in deep and bouncing around public land where you don’t want to leave a stand to be stolen. However, most public-land regulations prohibit climbing methods that penetrate a tree, meaning no screw-in steps. Bullman’s Silent Approach Climbing System consists of 12 injection-molded plastic steps combined with a nylon strap and cam buckle that weigh less than 5.5 pounds total. Eastern Woods’ aluminum Squirrel Steps weigh just 3 ounces each. Another option is Cranford Manufacturing’s EZY Climb Folding Rope Tree Step (ezyclimb.com), a steel step with a rope attachment system, with each step coming in at 9.5 ounces.

Dan Infalt's Beast Sticks with Stealth Outdoors Climbing Stick Kit
Dan Infalt's Beast Sticks with Stealth Outdoors Climbing Stick Kit

In the world of strap-on steps, probably no product provides a more solid foundation than the SteppLadder by Wild Edge. Consisting of a steel rung in a triangular design, a rope is spliced onto one end and then passed around and affixed with a specific loop to the other side. Once the rope is fairly tight, the hunter pulls up on the step and then “cams” it down onto the tree, which locks it in place. This simple action results in a public-land legal foothold so sturdy that Wild Edge often shares pictures and video of a man sitting atop an ATV dangling by a winch cable from one. Each step weighs less than a pound.

Saddle hunters have also taken to using a variety of “aiders” to help them extend their vertical reach. For example, many use a loop of nylon webbing on a tree step or climbing stick. This loop effectively creates an additional “step” that can be moved up and down the tree as the hunter climbs. This technique can dramatically reduce the number of steps or sticks needed to climb; however, it does take a bit of practice to employ. Keep in mind, any time you leave the ground you should be securely attached to the tree via a lineman’s belt or tether at all times.


Muddy Pro on tree
Muddy Pro

If you have the luxury of hunting private land, even more options are available. The aforementioned screw-in steps have long been a favorite of mobile hunters, and climbing spurs such as those worn by arborists are rapidly gaining popularity. Another common technique is drilling a hole and slipping in a six-inch, Grade 8 bolt or a solid carbon rod. The Treehopper Hand Drill is made exactly for this purpose. Of course, all these methods can penetrate a tree, so make sure you have permission.


Regardless of climbing method, you’ll want to eliminate as much noise as possible. Stealth Outdoors offers a variety of silencing products for climbing sticks, platforms, buckles, tree bark and more.

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

Recommended Articles

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.

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: Mathews V3 27 & 31 Bows

New for 2021: Mathews V3 27 & 31 Bows

Bowhunter Editor Curt Wells had an exciting visit with Mark Hayes, design engineer for Mathews, as the pair looked at the new V3 27 and V3 31 bows.

See All Videos

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

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.

Get the top Petersen's Bowhunting stories delivered right to your inbox.

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