What is a Saddle? How do you find a Saddle? How do you hunt a Saddle?
Shane McDermott, President
Mapping The Outdoors, Inc.
Contributor to Stick’em Archery
I have been an avid hunter all of my life. My older brother taught me hunter safety when I was a young boy, and took me out rabbit hunting on almost a daily basis. I grew up with the passion of being outdoors. I did not get into deer hunting until I moved to Texas in my mid 20′s, but soon found myself loving to hunt whitetail deer. In 2001, I moved to the mid-west where I found myself right in the middle of the golden triangle, one of the most popular whitetail hunting areas in the country.
I have been in the business of making maps since 1996. I started making maps of the areas that I was hunting so that I could take them out in the field with me while I was scouting for new stand locations. I found that looking at the map and walking the terrain helped me identify features on the map that I may have never noticed. In 2003, I decided to start a business that would create maps like the ones that I use, because if these maps were useful to me then I am sure they would be to others as well. That is when Mapping The Outdoors was created.
There are many features on a map that you can use to identify deer traffic. The one I would like to talk about today is the “Saddle“. You have probably heard about it, seen one, or maybe even hunted over one. The “Saddle” is one of my favorites when it comes to locating a feature on a map, scouting it out, and ending up with a stand in that exact location.
What exactly is a “Saddle”? This is where a low spot, or a dip, occurs on a ridgeline. If you can picture in your mind walking down a ridge, the saddle is where the elevation drops down for a short length, then rises back up to its original height. Take a look at the map below, you can see where I have labeled the “Saddle”. As you walk down the ridge from the field in the Southeast (lower right) to the Northeast. The ridge dips down right where the “Saddle” is, and then rises up again just to the Northeast of the “Saddle”, then it resumes its gradual slope down the ridgeline.
Why is a “Saddle” important? Well deer are naturally lazy animals, and they will take the easiest of routes as long as there isn’t any danger present. So, if a deer needs to cross a ridge, they will often do that at the “Saddle” because it is the lowest and easiest possible spot to cross. They are just like we are, if they see a shortcut, they will take it.
Now you understand how to find a “Saddle” on the map, what do you do with that information? Anytime I am looking for new places to put stands, or hunting a new piece of property. First, I find some potential spots on the map I always take into the field with me and find these locations on the ground. Once I am out in the field and have found the spot I was looking for on the map. I check the area out for signs of deer movement. With a “Saddle” it is usually pretty easy because you will often find a deer trail running right through the “Saddle”. If this is the case, then this would be a good location for a stand.
One nice feature about a “Saddle” is they are higher up in the air, which allows you to be above the deer movement. If you play the wind direction right you can minimize your chances of getting winded by that big buck. Before I place my stand, I try to determine which way the deer may be moving at different parts of the day. Are there bedding areas close by? Food sources the deer are headed to in the afternoon? If so, that may determine which side of the “Saddle” I place my stand. My first choice would be the high side of the “Saddle”, as I personally like to be as high up as possible to avoid detection.
The other thing to keep in mind is wind direction. I think about which directions the wind can be from that will allow me to hunt this stand. Even though the stand is high in the air, you still have to play the wind right. Once I have my stand in place and my shooting lanes cut, I identify the prime wind directions to hunt. Then I mark my stand location on my map and write down the wind directions this stand will work with. Then I am out of there to leave that location alone until it is time to hunt it. I am a firm believer in not disturbing the area any more than needed.
I have had some really good luck with “Saddle”. During the rut bucks seem to charge through them with reckless abandon. Again, it’s the easiest way to cross the ridge and get from Point A to Point B, and as long as they have no reason to fear that location it should be a prime spot to nail a trophy. Good Luck!
Originally posted 2010-09-17 15:03:54. Republished by Blog Post Promoter