First Saddle Hunt - Field Notes and Tethrd Product(s) Review

wildernessmaster

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Old timer here... Getting into Eastern Whitetail hunting late in life. Been very successful with Western Elk, but WT have eluded me for the last few years. In part because the prime part of the seasons I have been out West chasing Elk. This year (and maybe next) I really wanted to lock down my WT hunting and be successful, particularly with a bow.

I have several tree stands... a climber, and a pair of portables. This year I wanted to refine my hunting with those, as well as try saddle hunting. After doing my research and, well, realizing that with the Covid delays my best bet was Tethrd. So I dove head first into a Tethrd system.

This weekend was my first saddle hunting experience. I have to say, aside from the potential equipment defect issue, I was very pleased with saddle hunting. So much so, I may sell my other stands.

Field Notes
------------
Gear:
Tethrd Mantis Saddle
Tethrd Tether
Muddy Linemans
Ropeman's on both linemans and harness
Tethrd Hys Strap
Tehrd Predator Platform
Tethrd Back Strap

First and foremost, if you decide to saddle hunt practice, practice, practice before going to the field. With the covid delays I got mine not much before the season and I only had a few practice sessions with it. That clearly showed hunting day. It took me forever to get up the tree and situated. I also would recommend anyone with limited climbing experience to go to the field and use one without some mentoring. There are some gotcha's with the setups that can end up getting you hurt.

You definitely need knee pads. You also should avoid my rookie mistake - make sure where you decide to have your saddle and where you will sit does not have any "tree protrusions" Mine had a bout an 1.5" stob of a limb and it screwed up my sitting position. I had to swing off to one side or the other of it. Sucked.

The knee pads I used had hard plastic on the outside... Gonna move to something quieter. The plastic on the tree made noise.

Stop knots are a must and make sure they are tight. If you slip, in any of your rope work, and it is under weight there is no way you are going to grab the rope and stop yourself. Too much going on, too much load and it just isn't happening. Make sure you have stop knots in your tether and lineman's. Period.

At first, I thought to move from standing to hanging required letting rope out. It doesn't. and I almost free lined trying to do so (see "oh shit bar" recommendation). Get your tether line set and then leave it be. Just relax your legs and knee into the tree.

Ropemans I would not recommend unless you have climbing time and climbing gear time. One of my gigs (negatives) on Tethrd with the ropeman is they don't really give you any rigging instructions with their gear, they just send you the manufacturers instructions. Given it is a multi-purpose device they need to provide usage instructions. I know they have some videos, but none going over the usage and safety in detail. You can get hurt with these puppies if you don't know what you are doing. I am old school and we use to use Jumars (sic?) all the time and I have seen plenty of guys break legs using them wrong.

Pick better trees. Unfortunately a thinner pine was the best place given the set up. I would avoid such. The platform was a bit squirrely on a thinner tree. Maybe it was the tree size or the fact it was a pine but foot placement around the right and left edges could go wonky quick. I will have to figure that one out.

Have an "oh shit bar" on your tether. What's a tether oh shit bar? Well if you use a ropeman (or other device) on you tether leave the prussic piece on it. If you use the prussic piece fashion a second one and put on it. Firstly when you get to your position and start setting things up it makes a nice place to hang things temporarily or as you need to. Second if you need to readjust or move around it is nice to be able to reach up and grab the loop and use it to stabilize yourself as you move. I will add pictures later of this so it is clearer. I also loop the free end of the tether back around into this "oh shit bar" and make a backup loop in case the ropeman (or prussic) release accidentally (happens..).

(see below for defect description)... About 2 hours into my sit, I noticed my bridge look frayed (yes brand new saddle!) and it freaked me out. I did not want to lose the hunt so I fashioned a second backup bridge using my linemans rope in case the bridge was defective and failed. This goes back to my comment above, don't head out saddle hunting until you have practiced a lot in a safe locale, unless you have solid climbing/rope skills. Knowing how things work and how you can stay safe if things go wrong.

My Merrels on the platform made a fair amount of noise. I didn't like that. You have to be able to move and rotate around quietly. Will be looking into options.

Tethrd Gear Review
--------------------
Mantis saddle...
Not happy. While it worked, the fit and function were lacking. I am a muscular guy with a round butt and the saddle just doesn't come around and under enough to "sit" well. More so, the molle webbing was so tight that at the base of the tree I kept having to take the whole saddle off to hook anything into the molle. The leg straps on the saddle are a bad design. I know they (Tethrd) claim they are not what "hold you in" but they are. If things go wonky trust me you want your leg straps on and working. They are not just there to hold the saddle under you. That said, mine kept coming off. I had the micro adjusters too and that didn't help either.

The "you can walk in with this on" is BS... Its marketing BS... The fixed bridge, the way the leg staps connect, and a lot of other things both make this uncomfortable to walk in, but also would be a nightmare (snagging, straps falling off, etc). Just standing at the base of the tree my bridge kept getting caught on things. The leg straps kept falling off.

2 hours into my sit, I notice my bridge looked frayed. I tried to contact Tethrd customer support and it was not until Monday that a response was provided. Bridge1.jpg

I think with a product like this Tethrd should probably have some support that is available when it is being used - which is the weekend. They say the bridge is fine, by the way. The way this message was provided and the lack of detail in the message makes me a bit concerned they just did a drive by look at it.

Tethrd back recliner...
Piece of junk. I will make my own. Very limited padding. Very uncomfortable for anyone with broad shoulders or a wide back. Overall you can make something better.

Customer service...
Like I just said, this is the type of gear that you need someone looking at defects when people are using the gear. I lost a day using the saddle and cut my hunting day in half due to this potential defect. More so, the first response I got back was not to my defective question - they copied and pasted another response into mine. I had to re-email them about the issue.

Overall the Tethrd system got me started - that's the positive I will say about it. The other companies lost me in parting a system together in too may terms and options. Tethrd was stupid simple. But as a product, there are some deficiencies, instructions for set up are lacking for parts, and customer service is iffy.

I will continue to saddle hunt and probably use the Tethrd system (since I spent $$ on it). However, I am not sure it is the system I will use once it dies. I will be adding other systems to it eliminate some of the weaknesses.

Some recommendations for a system:

1. Not sure I like the fixed bridge idea. Other systems have this as an option. Its the easy button option, but I think future saddles I will have a bridge I can take on/off. It hangs too much climbing up the tree, and moving around.

2. Lack of redundancies in the system. It was ingrained in me to be redundant with climbing rigs. I know redundant means weight, but its my life. I am coming up with some simple ways to be redundant with "gear on me". The vendors should give these as guidance. A single bridge and connection to a tree at 20+ feet is unsafe - particularly when it is under constant load.

3. Ropemans... May or may not be the way I go in the future. They work, but are prone to deloading quickly. A prussic doesn't deload as quickly and that could be a life saver.

4. The "oh shit bar"... A definitely recommend.

5. Gonna try the "ring of steps" approach to a platform. The Predator platform was fine (minus the wonky), but it is noisy and was weird getting the 360 aspects out of it.

Luke Stephens
 

tam9492

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Mar 21, 2016
Messages
368
The bridge is fine. It’s not fraying; rather, the buried end of your amsteel loop is showing through. You’d be hard-pressed to find an amsteel bridge that doesn’t like like that.

Also, did you try both leg strap connection points? I have no problem walking in my mantis with the straps connected to the points on the belt.
 
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wildernessmaster

wildernessmaster

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The bridge is fine. It’s not fraying; rather, the buried end of your amsteel loop is showing through. You’d be hard-pressed to find an amsteel bridge that doesn’t like like that.

Also, did you try both leg strap connection points? I have no problem walking in my mantis with the straps connected to the points on the belt.

Thank you for the reassurance. Not familiar with Amsteel and it freaked me a bit.
 

Coopsdaddy

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Nov 28, 2017
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Oklahoma
Curious about the ropemans as im getting ready to order one for using on my tree stand linemans belt /teather setup.
I have used a prussk for years.
 
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wildernessmaster

wildernessmaster

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Curious about the ropemans as im getting ready to order one for using on my tree stand linemans belt /teather setup.
I have used a prussk for years.

Ropemans are convenient, but with that convenience comes some risk and trickiness. My observations:

1. Basically with any tension device like this that you off tension and unknowingly load (which can happen) and you free line. They don't re-catch well because guess what, they require tension to catch. So if you go to adjust (loosen) your tether line (lengthen the run to the tree) and while untensioned you put load on the rope - you free line.

2. You have to set them up for right/left handedness which requires setting up the biner a bunch of times until you figure out which side is which - and then requires you to put your tether on the same way. Its not horrible if you set up for left handed and you are right, but you have line and the ropeman kind of in your way. Plus the release loop dangles in you movement area precariously (can you spell snag?).

3. You can accidentally put them on backwards and then the thing just free lines. I have seen this happen with this category of devices a bunch of times, and quite a few with guys who were at height. It just like hooking in a military style repel line on a biner. You loop the wrong way and you are screwed. So when you have your equipment apart for cleaning or such and you don't think about it and hook it up backwards and climb a tree... ooops.

4. Ropemans unload and free line fast. Prussics take some time and coaxing. The latter gives you a bit more room for error.

I am going back and forth between returning to prussics or sticking with the ropemans. I more than likely will do the ropeman on my linemans and use a prussic on my tether. We will see.

If I do use my ropeman on the tether going forward I will have some additional safeties and back ups.
 

wesfromky

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Nov 23, 2016
Messages
348
Location
KY
I have a Tethrd Phantom and a few of their accessories as well - all seam pretty solid quality to me.

I run a ropeman on my lineman belt, but like the prussk on my bridge because I don't adjust it much and that is less metal to clank against something.

I wear my kneepads under my pants so they are quieter.

One thing I have noticed with saddle hunting is there are a whole lot of ways to climb and setup, so it for sure takes some trial and error and practice to get where you want. And, it is best to work all that out while you are realitivly safe and not when you are 15-20 feet up.
 

wesfromky

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And just a quick note:

"2. Lack of redundancies in the system. It was ingrained in me to be redundant with climbing rigs. I know redundant means weight, but its my life. I am coming up with some simple ways to be redundant with "gear on me". The vendors should give these as guidance. A single bridge and connection to a tree at 20+ feet is unsafe - particularly when it is under constant load. "

That setup is totally safe as long as you use it correctly. There are many things while doing rope work or climbing that are technically single points of failure, and there is no way to eliminate all of them.

And, it is not up to Tethrd to provide all of the probably hundreds of different ways people can and do use saddles. This is an advanced technique, and the burden on on the user to make sure they are safe.
 

WV Mountaineer

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Oct 2, 2016
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Personally, I like my mantis. It fits me fine. They are very clear that some people prefer you pull the saddle down several inches for best comfort. As in all things, it simply preference.

I was just like you in my impression of saddle hunting. I love it. And rarely use any other stand.
 

woods89

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Sep 3, 2014
Messages
346
Location
Southern MO Ozarks
5 year saddle hunter here. I use a New Tribe Aero Hunter, DIY sticks, and a ring of Cranford steps.

You do have to give it time. Those first few hunts are awkward, but if you keep at it you will be amazed how much more efficient you get.

I haven't used a hang on in 5 years.......
 

Jhdavis444

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Oct 2, 2019
Messages
14
Thanks for all the info. I just got a saddle last year and like reading other people’s perspectives. It sure was awkward for me that first time but I’ve spent a lot of the quarantine time practicing and tweaking things. October 1st can’t come soon enough!
 

HomeTownJB

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Jul 27, 2020
Messages
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I run a schwabisch hitch with a tender and it gives me the same functionality as a ropeman. I prefer knots and rope over mechanical devices for my lineman's and tether. You can also run a distel hitch. The mantis is not comfortable. The new saddles on the market are head and shoulders above it. Cruzr, TX5, Method, Phantom just to name a few. Definitely takes a few hunts to get your bearings, practice is key. Once you're dialed in, you won't look back. That's part of the fun, getting your system the way you like it.

Sent from my SM-G981V using Tapatalk
 

JimGa

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Feb 10, 2018
Messages
121
I'm a first year saddle hunter as well. Bought an H2 with adjustable bridge and I seem to like it shorter. I've spent maybe 3 hours in mine so far climbing, playing, etc. It's not very comfortable yet but everyone says that takes time. I'm really hoping I can get the hang of it, as I'm I'm in the NE PA big ass mountains and weight is a priority. Working on one-sticking with a 2-step amsteel aider on a Hawk stick for now. I do have some Cranford's that I may incorporate as well. Have a Solo Scout platform and will also use the top of the stick but I'm not sold on that yet. Season opens first week of October with prime time towards the end of the month, so hopefully I am somewhat comfortable by then, time will tell
 

mavinwa2

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Resident Wetside WA, NR>AZ, UT, NM, CO.
good tips you posted...

had a Tethered Mantis, one season, experience similar to yours and sold it.
last year used the AeroHunter Kestrel Flex....ahhhh, perfect!
over 40 sits in this saddle.
depending on my tree selection and situation, I either climb with DRT Rope system or use my Lone Wolf Hand Climber Seat. The Climbing LW seat is a good size & solid base for a platform. 3rd Alternative is 1-LoneWolf climib stick & Black Diamond altier, the one-stick system. Total weight, saddle, climb system is under 8lbs. And I pack in my saddle, never wear it in.

But still keeping my LW Hand Climber complete and an Alpha fixed stand/set 4 stealthed sticks too.
Sold 2 other LW stands though, because of the saddle experience.

you know, couldn't have killed my bull that day unless I was up in the tree. Took me 10 min to get up and set.
 

Marshmi

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Nov 21, 2019
Messages
21
Thanks for sharing your experience.

Saddle newbie here, long story short ended up with both a Crüzr and Phantom. Fit around the hips is extremely subjective but on me I will say the Phantom is much more compact and “as advertised” with regards to walking in. The Crüzr is pretty big and floppy by design, but feels like a hammock in the tree. Still torn on which I will use.

Like you, I am also finding the lack of redundancy with these systems concerning, but those thoughts are getting less prominent with each sit.
 

Hoytaholic

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Feb 5, 2020
Messages
68
Thanks for sharing your experience.

Saddle newbie here, long story short ended up with both a Crüzr and Phantom. Fit around the hips is extremely subjective but on me I will say the Phantom is much more compact and “as advertised” with regards to walking in. The Crüzr is pretty big and floppy by design, but feels like a hammock in the tree. Still torn on which I will use.

Like you, I am also finding the lack of redundancy with these systems concerning, but those thoughts are getting less prominent with each sit.

you could always walk in with the phantom, then switch to the cruzr to hunt.... 😂

I kid. This will be my first year with the phantom so interested to see how it feels throughout the season.
 
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wildernessmaster

wildernessmaster

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And just a quick note:

"2. Lack of redundancies in the system. It was ingrained in me to be redundant with climbing rigs. I know redundant means weight, but its my life. I am coming up with some simple ways to be redundant with "gear on me". The vendors should give these as guidance. A single bridge and connection to a tree at 20+ feet is unsafe - particularly when it is under constant load. "

That setup is totally safe as long as you use it correctly. There are many things while doing rope work or climbing that are technically single points of failure, and there is no way to eliminate all of them.

And, it is not up to Tethrd to provide all of the probably hundreds of different ways people can and do use saddles. This is an advanced technique, and the burden on on the user to make sure they are safe.


I understand it is safe. So is a proper climbing gear. That said, if you are willing to depend on 1 and only 1 thing to keep you alive, then I am guessing one day you are going to be a Darwin award winner. Except when we had not other choice - we always rigged safeties and backups. ALWAYS.

And yes, I have done technical 100' ice climbs with nothing more than parachute cord and entrenching tools - but I had no option. I was also a lot younger, bounced better at the bottom and a bit more carefree. I think once you have a decent 401K you worry a little about not getting to use it. :)

It is stupid easy to add safeties to this gear with no extra weight. For instance in this case I just connected my lineman's rope as a backup bridge.

As far as it is not Tethrds responsibility... If I were a lawyer I would probably disagree with you given their "manuals" are 90% legal release verbiage and safety verbiage. So I think business law wise you are wrong. As far as just being a good "citizen" I would also disagree as what does it cost them to add some suggested ways to make their system safer (and in the case of a lawsuit show good faith in doing so)? Especially when executives at the company are all over Youtube making self serving videos.
 
Last edited:

peterk123

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Sep 7, 2020
Messages
86
1. Not sure I like the fixed bridge idea. Other systems have this as an option. Its the easy button option, but I think future saddles I will have a bridge I can take on/off. It hangs too much climbing up the tree, and moving around.

2. Lack of redundancies in the system. It was ingrained in me to be redundant with climbing rigs. I know redundant means weight, but its my life. I am coming up with some simple ways to be redundant with "gear on me". The vendors should give these as guidance. A single bridge and connection to a tree at 20+ feet is unsafe - particularly when it is under constant load.

3. Ropemans... May or may not be the way I go in the future. They work, but are prone to deloading quickly. A prussic doesn't deload as quickly and that could be a life saver.

4. The "oh shit bar"... A definitely recommend.

5. Gonna try the "ring of steps" approach to a platform. The Predator platform was fine (minus the wonky), but it is noisy and was weird getting the 360 aspects out of it.

Luke Stephens

1. I use a fixed, I prefer longer ones because it is quite comfortable and allows me to get around the tree better. Learning how to splice amsteel is easy, then you can make your own.

2. My only single point of failure is the tether, but the rope is massive. I have a homemade sitdrag that is paired with a climbing harness. Both are hooked to the tether, so if for some bizarre reason my bridge fails, the harness will save me.

3. Love my ropemans. But check this out, it's homemade. It's a prusic with an easy release feature......

4. Think I know what you mean. I have an extra prusic above my bridge hook up on the tether that I use as a handle to pull myself up. Nice to have when I want to shift my body around.

5. Love my ring of steps. I don't get why all the love for platforms when you use a saddle. Here is a vid of what I am using. The only change I made was that I doubled up on the number of steps. By doing so I can place two steps snug against each other. This firms them up (so they don;t twist) and provides a super comfortable platform .

I have these strung up onto a wild edge step, which is my climbing system. I only need for steps to get 20 feet up or so because of the aider system I made up, which is this.........

I hunt exclusively out of a saddle. Well at least for my duration here in New England. In another year I hope sitting on high ground with a pair of binoculars :)
 

wesfromky

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Nov 23, 2016
Messages
348
Location
KY
I understand it is safe. So is a proper climbing gear. That said, if you are willing to depend on 1 and only 1 thing to keep you alive, then I am guessing one day you are going to be a Darwin award winner. Except when we had not other choice - we always rigged safeties and backups. ALWAYS.

I spent a decade or so as a dirtbag climber, bolting new routes, rebolting older ones, and doing a lot of climbing photography. I can't count the number of hours I have hung from a gri-gri attached to a single fixed line, much, much higher then hunting. Or the hundreds of falls I have taken, all caught by a single rope, attached to me by a single knot to a single harness, and attached to a single belay device with a single biner and a single harness on the other end. And sometimes, with a single bolt or piece of gear between me and the ground.

The tether is not going to break. The biner is not going to break. The prussik is not going to break or untie itself. The only way something bad happens is serious user error.

But, one of the coolest things about many of life's pursuits as that we can pursue them our own way, with our own risk assessment and adjust our behavior appropriately. If it feels better to you to keep your linemans attached, and it isn't going to impact your ability to get off a good shot, then go for it. I leave mine attached until I am totally settled in, with all my gear hung, arrow nocked, realease on the peep. Then tuck it into my syshauler.
 

wildthing54

Junior Member
Joined
Oct 11, 2020
Messages
10
I'm also a newbie saddle hunter. Didn't even know saddle hunting existed until two weeks ago! I've always hunted from a ladder stand or a blind on the ground, and from all the reading and researching I've been doing pretty much nonstop for the past two weeks, I can already say saddle hunting is far superior than both of those options!

Anyways, I recently bought a Tethrd Mantis, and I love it! I can't imagine it getting any better than how the Mantis feels compared to a ladder stand, but if you guys say that the Cruzr and the Phantom is that much better, I may have to try one of those out next. But for now, I'm on a tight budget, so Mantis and DIY gear it is! Still trying to figure out what the rest of my setup is going to be...as of now all I have is the saddle itself and a ratchet strap I've been using as a temporary Tether for my backyard sits.
 

hollarhorns

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Joined
Sep 18, 2020
Messages
22
Super informative post. Thank you! I am leaning more and more towards switching to a saddle and the more real life reviews I read, the more I am thinking this is the route for me.
 
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