By Greg Staggs
There are several options available to saddle hunters to sit, stand or lean against during their hunts. Almost all can be broken down into two categories — either a platform or a ring of steps.
Early saddle hunters predominantly used steps spaced around their tree, whether they were screwed in every half a foot around the tree trunk or, in the case of strap-ons, threaded through nylon webbing, spaced out as desired, and cinched down. The Bullman Outdoors Saddle Hunting Platform and the aforementioned Squirrel Steps are good examples.
More recently, platforms reminiscent of miniature treestands have become increasingly popular, as they give a wider surface area to stand on, and some feel they make it easier to pivot for shots. For years, saddle hunters bought seat tops from traditional treestand manufacturers such as Lone Wolf or Xtreme Outdoor Products, added aluminum bar stock and standoffs to the back and used a cinch-style strap to attach to the tree. Tethrd’s out-of-the-box-ready Predator platform has all but eliminated the need for DIY platforms.
A nice bridge between a ring of steps and a platform can be fashioned by affixing several Wild Edge Stepps around the tree. Wild Edge also recently developed its new Perch, a lightweight, aluminum platform that slips onto one of its steps. The Perch weighs 11⁄4 pounds and measures 147⁄16 inches long by 73⁄4 inches deep, providing enough maneuverability for 360-degree shooting. Capable of supporting loads of up to 400 pounds, it also features an anti-skid tread and a black, powder-coat finish.
The last point worth discussing is whether you want to use knee pads or strap a foam pad to the tree itself. Since saddle hunters are facing the tree and not away from it, they’ll often opt to sit with their knees against the tree for periods of time to change things up — just as traditional treestand hunters alternate between sitting and standing. This is surprisingly comfortable, and saddle hunters routinely talk about taking naps in this position when the hunting is slow. I prefer knee pads, as I can wear them in and out, and it’s one less thing to carry or set up.