Everything You Need To Know About Mobile Hunting
Becoming a mobile hunter
Known as “prime time” to many hunters, the last 30 minutes of light is the best time to be in stand. Sitting on the edge of an ag field or maybe a food plot of your own making, you watch as the young deer make their way into the food source. You know that the big mature buck you're waiting for will be the last to join the party. Patiently, you wait the only motion coming from your eyes, watching as deer slowly begin to cover the field, then as quickly as it started, the party is canceled. The matriarch doe of the herd steps into the field, fixated on your location. She didn't see motion, she wasn't spooked by noise, she just knew to check that tree over for an unwanted guest. No matter how many deer made it into the food without busting you, it only takes one doe blowing to wreck your plan. This situation is all too familiar to many whitetail hunters, but don't worry, there is a solution...become a mobile hunter.
Mobile hunting is a style of hunting which includes a lightweight system that allows you to set up wherever you want, whenever you want. Becoming a mobile hunter may seem like a daunting task if you've always hunted pre-sets, but we are here to help. Below I will outline the gear, mindset, tips, and tricks you will need to start your mobile hunting setup.
Mobile Hunting Gear
The key to hunting out of a mobile setup all the time is having a mobile setup that you WANT to hunt with. I have found that a hang-on tree stand and a saddle both have a place in the arsenal. Below I will put 2 different gear lists for my mobile hunting setup, one being a saddle setup, the other being a hang on stand. It will take time to really dial in the gear that you carry into the woods with you. After trying half a dozen lightweight hang ons and a few saddles, these are some of our favorites.
Hang On Treestand Hunting Setup
- XOP Air Raid Evolution Hang On Tree Stand
- XOP Ultra Series Single Step Climbing Sticks (3-4 depending on time of year and terrain)
- Safety Harness and a Tree Tether
- Limbing Saw
- Bow Hanger (Realtree EZ Hanger is my go to)
- Pull Rope (for pulling bow into tree)
Saddle Hunting Setup
- Tethrd Phantom Saddle
- Tethrd Predator XL Saddle Platform With Strap XOP Ultra Series Single Step (3-4 depending on time of year and terrain)
- Sys Hauler x2 (one for each side of saddle)
- Lineman's Belt
- Tree Tether
- Ropeman1 x2 (one for lineman's belt and one for tree tether)
- Knee Pads (We prefer the Sitka Timberline or Mountain Pant with the built-in knee pads)
- Tethrd Recliner Backrest (Critical for long sits)
- Limbing Saw
- Pull Rope
- Bow Hanger (Realtree EZ Hanger)
Mobile Hunting Pro's And Con's
Both of these mobile setups are great options, so let's talk about the pros and cons of each.
Treestand Hunting Pros
- Full range of vision without a tree in front of you
- Familiar (even if you're not a mobile hunter, most hunters have been in a treestand)
- Ability to sit, or stand
Treestand Hunting Cons
- Heavier than a saddle
- Bulkier than a saddle
- Not connected to the tree while hanging
- Limited shots
- Easy to make metal on metal noise while setting up
Saddle Hunting Pros
- 360 degree shooting
- You can keep the tree between you and the deer
- Tethered to the tree the whole way up
- Quieter set up
Saddle Hunting Cons
- More gear to remember and keep organized
- Not as comfortable as a tree stand (In my opinion)
- I find myself fidgeting and moving more in a saddle versus a stand
- You need to practice shooting out of a saddle for a while to be comfortable with it
- If you don't have your tether set accordingly it can get in the way of your bow string at full draw
Both the tree saddle and the hang on treestand have their own pros and cons. To be as effective as possible, you need to have both in your back pocket without having a prejudice towards one or the other. There are times that the only option to get elevated is with a tree saddle, and there will be times where a tree stand is the best option.
Mobile Hunting Mind Set
One of the most important parts of being mobile is having the right mind set. Putting up a mobile setup in the woods will not be effective if it's not well thought out and executed to the best of your abilities. For starters, you need to be comfortable with your equipment and efficient in setup. Practicing at home is a great way to dial in the setup process, and shooting some arrows while you are up in the tree is great practice as well.
When you get to the right tree that you want to set up in, it is important that you can get up the tree quickly and quietly. While getting into your tree quickly and quietly will help your chances, it is only one piece of the puzzle. Finding the optimal location, taking a good route into that location, making sure wind and thermals will be good for the walk in, the stand location and knowing when to be in that setup will be the key to filling a tag out of a mobile set up. If you want to be successful it is extremely important that all of these factors come into your brain when making your plan.
Mobile Hunting Tips and Tricks
- Play the wind. Not just the wind out of your stand location. You need to be conscious of what the wind will do to your scent trail on the walk into the location. The wind may be good for the area you plan to hunt but if you walk upwind of the bedding area on the way in you may bump all of the deer you plan to hunt out of the area. Carry a windicator like milkweed or dead down wind powder for constant intel of what the wind is doing.
- Prep trees. Whether you are checking trail cams, replacing batteries, or just out doing some scouting, don't be afraid to get a tree ready for setup, cut some shooting lanes, and find a quiet way into the location. This way when it is time to set up in that location it is even faster and more quiet.
- Use trail cameras. I prefer cell cameras like Cuddeback to tell me when and where the deer are moving. While boots on the ground scouting is very important, during the season I like to stay out of my hunting locations as much as possible until it is time to hunt.
- Keep an eye on the fresh sign. When heading into the woods don’t be afraid to deviate from your plan. If you are on the way into a location and you come across a fresh sign like a rub line or a scrape and it is conducive to your setup, hunt it. There is no better sign than a fresh sign.
- Know when to hit the same spot two or even three times. Sometimes you get into a location that is too good to be true, and much to your surprise you may not see anything the first time. Especially during the rut, I don't give up on my sets after day one.
- Don’t give up when you bump a buck off of his bed. Inevitably, you will bump deer...especially if you are hunting close to bedding areas. If this happens to you, don't give up. After all, the bucks are bedded there because it is a safe spot, and oftentimes he will return. Keep in mind that he will most likely go down wind from the location he was bumped from.
- Don't be afraid to move. If you are up the tree and you're seeing deer but they are out of range don't be afraid to move. If it is early enough into the sit and you have time, or if it will be an all day stand location, a 20-30 yard adjustment could get into range of the deer that come through later.
- Layer, Layer, Layer. Most of my mobile hunting requires a mile or more hike into the area. Pack in the layers that you need to keep you warm, but get into the area without working up a sweat. Getting into an area soaking wet with sweat will not only make you get cold faster, it will also increase the amount of human odor on your trail and stand location.
Now is the time to start thinking about your mobile set up for this fall. Give yourself time to get comfortable with your equipment. Build a system that you want to hunt out of. Get in the woods and do some scouting. Get some trail cameras out to gather intel and always continue to learn and adapt. Stop in at any of the Archery Country locations and ask questions, we are here to help.
Leader Bowhunting supplies and bowhunting gear for 35+ years