September 28, 2023
When it comes to American success stories, there are usually three factors that are in play. First, there is someone who has a vision of something new or how something could be done better. Second, there is a passion that drives that vision forward through time. And third, there’s perseverance that survives tough days and bumps in the road. In the end, all of that adds up to a storyline that survives and becomes a shining example of the possibilities that are out there, and a chance to make it to the top for those committed to getting there.
And sometimes, those individuals and/or companies create a revolutionary means of doing something better than anyone else. In the saddle world, there is no better example of an all-American success story than Trophyline® — a saddle-making revolutionary that sees its genesis date back to the year John F. Kennedy became the 35th President of the United States. That same year, James Green had a unique and brilliant product idea. While conventional treestands certainly have their place, Green’s idea of a Tree Saddle® that would work no matter the tree situation, and keep a hunter safe during the hunt while maintaining 360-degree shooting integrity, just made good sense. The concept slowly turned over time from an idea to a business.
“That year, 1961, is the year I was born and, ironically, the year my dad started strapping himself into a tree with Army surplus webbing, so he could hunt safely from an elevated position,” recalls Sherry Green Mullins, daughter of James and Irma Green, and creator of the current Trophyline® business. “Hence, I have dubbed that year and event as the inception of the Tree Saddle®.”
Sherry notes that her dad is an avid hunter and had decided that his chance to see and harvest more game during those years in Georgia would be better served from an elevated position.
“So, he began climbing up the branches of trees and sitting on a limb to hunt,” said Sherry. “He did not know at the time that he suffered from narcolepsy, but found himself frequently falling asleep as he hunted. In 1961, fearful that he would fall out of the tree and get hurt, he made a trip to the Army/Navy Surplus Store in Marietta, Georgia, and purchased some military grade webbing material. He used this material to strap himself into the tree by tying one length of webbing around his waist and around the tree. Good ideas evolve. Great ideas become revolutions.”
As the business grew, a bright-yellow school bus served as the family hunting camper and an unusual marketing device for Green. The company received its first patent in 1989, and by the beginning of the 21st Century, Sherry took over the shoestring company that was gathering steam and became majority owner when her dad made a deal she could not refuse — to take the company over and propel the Tree Saddle® concept further than he had time to do.
“My dad had previously sold the Tree Saddle® on a word-of-mouth basis, fabricating them as needed in somewhat of a cottage industry under the name Green’s Tree Saddle®, Inc.,” said Sherry. “When my dad asked me to do something with the Tree Saddle® in 2000, I began my due diligence and changed the company name to Trophyline® — a name I believed I could build a brand upon. I continued developing the Tree Saddle® with new functional features and filed patents and trademarks along the way.”
With the Trophyline® creation, Sherry pushed all the chips to the center of the table and went all-in on the business gamble, using her own engineering, business, and marketing background to push forward and improve the product, make it more consistent in the manufacturing process, safer, and more reliable to use in the field. She called upon key contacts and looked to the expertise of others along the way. Over time, the business grew, and the product began to gain the support of industry leaders and media, and, with an incredible amount of hard work, sheer passion, and sleepless nights, Sherry gained placement in all the key big-box stores and many other important retail spaces.
“We promoted the movement with ‘Feed Your Passion’ and ‘Let the Tree Saddle® revolution begin,’” Sherry recalls. “Every hunter needs at least one Tree Saddle® to go hunt places they can’t with anything else!”
While the business climate and the expansion of the saddle market grew as other companies entered the industry, change and some personal heartache along the way brought about the Trophyline® business leveling out somewhat a few years ago. But in recent times, Trophyline® has enjoyed a push back to the top of the product’s market as the Pennsylvania-based company builds on its heritage, employs a silent partner, and looks to become “The Heartbeat of the Hunter™” once again.
In October 2019, the company had a relaunch effort that has been well received as the next wave of the saddle-hunting revolution builds. The strong DNA of Trophyline® can be seen in the current lineup’s Venatic saddle, the Covert Pro 2.0 saddle, the Covert Lite 2.0 saddle, and a variety of kits and other accessory products. And it can also be seen through the company’s increased social-media efforts and the Trophyline® “Mobile Venatic” campaign that offers users of their products access to a variety of mobile-hunting information, such as articles, short films, success and failure stories, and much more.
As the company pushes deeper into its next chapter, Sherry’s proven hypothesis shows that some saddle hunters will use a saddle all the time, and some will combine it into their current arsenal — using it when the situation calls for it. But all hunters who incorporate a saddle into their repertoire will experience a greater level of mobility, comfort, and success in the field, yielding a “buck fever” adrenaline rush like they have never experienced before.
Bowhunter Magazine Equipment Editor, Brian K. Strickland, a serious whitetail nut from Colorado, understands that concept and realized a few years back that a saddle could help him chart his way toward a bigger taxidermy bill. On an autumn morning in Kansas back in 2020, Strickland saw a prime candidate for the wall as he sat in a ladder stand about 100 yards away from a creekbottom deer crossing.
Despite his best efforts to lure the buck in with grunting and rattling, the tall-racked whitetail was on a mission and paid Strickland’s efforts no attention. When the same scenario played out the next day, Strickland sprang into action and employed the Trophyline® saddle he had brought with him.
Not wanting to risk clanking another metal stand into place and alerting the buck that he suspected was nearby, Strickland went to a cottonwood tree before dawn on the third morning and quietly deployed the saddle. He was a bit nervous about how high he was — only a little over 12' above the ground — but that did not matter a short while later.
“About 40 minutes into legal light that morning, I saw the buck slip through the area again, but he wasn’t in a spot where I could shoot,” said Strickland. “But a short while later, I glanced up and saw a doe and fawn coming down the creek toward me. I got myself ready mentally, thinking that the buck had intercepted them and would be following behind.”
That was the case, and as the doe and fawn paused just to the left and below his saddle location, Strickland soon saw the sizable Sunflower State buck closing in. When the buck was just 10 yards away, Strickland released an arrow from his Bear takedown recurve, and the buck was soon wearing a freshly notched tag.
“Had I been in a regular treestand, it would have stood out and maybe I would have been too exposed,” said Strickland. “But with that saddle, I was able to keep the tree between me and the buck until it was time to shoot. The buck had no clue I was there until my broadhead-tipped arrow went through his vitals.”
During the Trophyline® success story, one theme that continues to surface is that of family. And that is true with Sherry, her mom and dad, and her children, too. That includes Sherry’s late son, Adam, who died tragically in an accident on the way to a hunting show to promote the product back in 2003.
“The vehicle went off the road, hit a tree, and killed Adam,” said Sherry, who still gets misty eyed when talking about her son — someone she notes was involved in every facet of building up the Trophyline® brand, even though he was only 16 ½ years old.
“The news of that accident spread like wildfire through this industry,” Sherry recalled. “He really believed in what we were doing and the product that we were making, and he loved working those shows and telling people about Trophyline®. I guess you could say that he gave his life for Trophyline®, this industry, and this product. He was a good Christian kid, and there were so many good characteristics and strong ethics that embodied Adam. Even at that age, Adam was into wildlife habitat and conservation, honoring parents and elders, having a strong sense of what was right, and really, just embracing a code of ethics and honor in the woods.”
To this day, Adam continues to cast his large shadow of influence, not only because of the Trophyline® story, but also through “The Young Sportsman’s Code of Honor” that the grieving mother created in honor of her son and the life he lived. That code says a young hunter will dedicate themselves to several marks of a true sportsman, including loving God, people, and animals; following game laws and the rules of hunter safety; employing the spirit of fair chase; supporting the principles of wildlife habitat conservation; and more.
“I wrote ‘The Young Sportsman’s Code of Honor’ in Adam’s honor in 2003,” said Sherry, who was inspired by the life her son lived, his work ethic, the artwork he produced, and his love for God and others. “Adam loved the outdoors and wildlife so much.”
Sherry continues to draw inspiration from the life of her son, and how even today, he continues to impact others. And those are not just sentimental words from a loving mother, either. His life, his passion, his artwork, and more keep fueling Sherry as she pushes into a future she never imagined.
“My next leap of faith will be to build ‘A.D.A.M.S. Legacy Foundation and Charity,’ which will be encouraging a high level of integrity, work ethic, and reward for kids who exemplify these ideals,” said Sherry. “That will be helping them with a ‘leg up’ in the career field best suited for their God-given gifts and talents, so they have more years of their life to make a positive contribution to the world and fulfill their purpose.”
Obviously, the past continues to be a part of the Trophyline® legacy and continued push forward. And Adam’s presence is still felt by Sherry and others, even as that company’s journey continues a number of years later.
“In this day and age, in which female-owned businesses are recognized (more) because it is such a real struggle, that makes Trophyline® that much more of a genuine success story, especially as a company started by a single mother,” said Sherry. “I am so proud that my children, Adam and Kimmy, were so involved with me and Trophyline® (from the beginning), along with my little nephews. Still today, Kimmy is my right-hand person. I don’t know what I would do without her.”
There are many in the hunting world who feel the same way about the company they’ve come to rely upon, often sharing their stories through texts and photos — even from 20' up in a tree — about real-world hunting successes and failures while using a Trophyline® saddle.
Sherry says that one such hunter named Chris sent a passionate e-mail a number of years ago after incorporating their saddle in his arsenal for a very important hunt. He saw a commercial about the Tree Saddle® on Outdoor Channel, ordered one for a hunt in Kansas, and deployed it after his first evening hunt did not go as planned. The next evening, after using the saddle to move in closer to a hot area, he sent a midnight e-mail detailing his arrowing of a Pope and Young-class buck — the first of his bowhunting career.
“Hunters are so passionate about it,” said Sherry. “That’s because it gives them freedom of mobility and the ability to quietly get so much closer to the buck they’re hunting.”
“Using a Trophyline® saddle can bring such adrenaline and passion to our sport,” she continued. “Along with a feeling when you are successful and bring that trophy buck home that is just immeasurable. To have the opportunity to provide a tool that gives all hunters a better chance to take an animal like that is truly amazing.”
As pointed out in this story’s beginning, there are several factors in play for an American success story, with passion being one of them. And when it comes to that vital recipe ingredient, Sherry has that in plentiful supply.
“This is my life and passion, and my family’s legacy,” she said. “It has been that way since I started Trophyline®. When I committed to giving everything I had to build it, I did not realize how much that commitment would cost. But Trophyline® was and could not be more committed to hunting, the industry, and to every fellow hunter out there chasing the dream of bringing home that trophy buck of a lifetime. With all it cost, there is no greater joy than to know that a Trophyline® Tree Saddle® hunter is going into the outdoors with ‘The Hunter’s Secret Weapon™’… the most revolutionary tool of all time unparalleled by any other.
“As a woman in marketing and the manufacturing business, and even when we started Trophyline®, there always seemed to be a ceiling (from others) on what we could achieve in business.”
But not anymore, thanks in great part to a father who dared to dream and start a hunting revolution based on a brilliant idea so many years ago. As James Green, Sherry Green Mullins, and others keep aiming for the top with the Trophyline® brand, they wouldn’t have it any other way.
And somewhere in the reaches of eternity, something tells me that Adam is looking on from above, smiling his approval of a saddle-hunting revolution that continues with no end in sight.
Look for the inaugural issue of Tree Saddle Hunter, on sale now at your local newsstand. Tree Saddle® is a Registered Trademark of Trophyline®, LLC and is used in connection with the magazine with Trophyline®’s permission.