Quality Optics and The Benefits
Get the visual!
What you can see matters. What you can’t see might very well be what you have been searching for all season. I have always heard that people should be willing to pay for good optics, and several people that I have met and hunted with have optics on their rifle that cost MORE than the rifle!
I initially thought that this was sort of silly until I had a RUDE awakening while hunting mule deer in Utah. You see, back in Georgia we never had to make a shot over 50 yards most of the time. The deer were so prevalent, and we prepared nice shooting lanes with corn feeders or planted crop patches to draw the deer in to feed. We often got to just sit and watch half a dozen deer just to see if anything came in that we felt like shooting. My rifle for hunting is a Mossberg .270 that came with a basic scope already mounted. My husband gave it to me the very first Christmas after I got my Hunters Education course done in 2012. I truly had little to no need for a high power optic, surely did not need binos, and forget any adjustable turrets!
The game changed entirely when we moved to Utah. Hunting in the West involves lots of hiking usually, carrying your firearm safely either on your shoulder or on your pack, and often miles and miles of work to search and glass for animals. I learned that my new best friend was the set of binoculars in my bino harness. Many times you have to find a glassing spot that won’t skyline you on a ridgeline and make you a beacon to the animals, but often you have to sit and devote time to scouring the terrain searching for the slightest odd shape or flicker of movement. Our bare eyes serve us well for most daily life tasks, but investing in some quality glass that assists you in letting in light and sharpening or even magnifying what you are searching will open up a whole new world for your hunting. This surely equates when target shooting as well. With a fabulous set of binos or spotting scope set up, you can check your shots without having to hustle back and forth from your target to assess each shot.
Some of the benefits of having quality binoculars and a spotting scope are that you gain exceptional clarity and very much increased view of the area that you are searching. A dark spot could truly be a black bear, or just a rock. Your optics give you the chance to determine if what you see is worth closing in the distance to get a better shot or looking opportunity. I personally don’t have the greatest eyes. One eye was laser corrected for distance and one eye was laser corrected for closer objects. When they work together things are sympatico, but when I close one eye most of the time all bets are OFF. I really enjoy having binoculars that easily adjust and really give me the chance to find a dream animal.
With good glass you obtain absolute confirmation that what you are seeing is what you are tagged to hunt for. I often hear stories that people shoot a cow or a doe because they thought that the scrub brush or trees behind the animal was a rack. This is a big mistake and could result in some serious trouble if you shoot an animal that you do not have a tag for. Mistake or not, our job as hunters is to KNOW your target and make the most ethical shot. Confirming your game with a magnified lens would result in helping you to get it right every time.
One of the coolest things that I ever got the chance to see was a vapor trail from a rifle shot. I was learning long range shooting with a friend that was a Match Director for the RMP long range match series. He was training me on making better rifle shots, and this is one of the moments that I learned that glass makes the day. We had a spotting scope set up on a tripod for the shot visual. We know that the shot hit because of my favorite sound, the ringing of a steel plate, however it is helpful to know if you are hitting left/right or high/low. In scenarios involving distance shots, the more you can control every aspect of the shot, the more accurate your hit will be. Seeing the hit on the target means that you can diagnose your mechanics and continue improving with your long range shooting. After shooting steel plates starting at 100 yards then quickly working my dope chart and shooting out past 1300 yards, I got the chance to spot for my husband to do some shooting. I was floored when I truly watched the bullet zooming through the spotting scope view area and I watched it hit the steel plate at 1000 yards! This clarity and power gave me so much confidence and I was truly humbled at just what we were accomplishing. Before that day I had barely shot past 200 yards EVER! The optics on the rifle and the spotting scope really were the heroes of the day. I never would have made the shots or been able to see it when a shot hits the target without them. I learned too that I could see the slightest wind shift or movement of the brush near the target. It may be a different direction from the breeze that we were feeling from our shooting area, so knowing that there may be a wind shift or swirl made a ton of difference in selecting adjustments to the shot. The more information that you have, you build the opportunity for success whether you are hitting steel or a magnificent bull on the next ridge.
Some folks use their riflescope to as a spotter to look for game, this is probably one of the scariest things that I can imagine. A huge take away from this is that the rifle scope should NEVER be used as a glassing tool. Never point your rifle unless you know your target and are getting ready to shoot.
It is great to have both a spotting scope and a set of binoculars, but most people would choose a good bino if they could only pick one item. The greatest benefit of a spotting scope is that it is very sturdy and stable but you have to mount it on a tripod and get it set up. The magnification capability is much higher with a spotting scope because of their size. This also makes it heavier and more tedious to carry if you hike for miles on your hunts. On the other hand a good pair of binos is a must. There are several ways to transport, but my favorite is my Alaska Guide Creations bino harness. I have my license/tags, rangefinder, chap stick, binos, and sometimes a snack in the pockets. You can choose just a strap harness or even carry them in your pack. The binoculars offer extreme portability with minimal weight as well as the quickest access and least amount of set up required to get your visual.
Once I had the chance at a nice looking buck. He was only 250 yards away, but I was hunting by myself with my husband’s 300 Win Mag. This was before I began treating rifles like Frank’s Red Hot sauce and buying my absolute favorite scope for EVERY hunting rifle in our safe. (I put that *@!? on everything!) My favorite is the Leupold VX6HD 3-18 x 50 scope.
I had this handsome buck in the rifle scope but quickly realized that it barely zoomed in at all. I really could hardly see the body of the deer unless I was looking through my binos. I called my husband at work (he was mildly jealous that I was out hunting while he was at work, but he tried to help) to see if the scope would adjust any more if I was just too excited to think clearly at that moment. To be honest, I was already shaking and had that adrenaline rush that we love and hate when we are going to make a shot. My sweet Jeremy told me that the scope was essentially trash for any distance over a few hundred yards and that he can shoot it only because his eyes are much better than mine. He was super right, but only at that moment. Now every hunting rifle has a good scope on it, and i have since learned how to make adjustments and really work the optic well.
I am not your average lady, a gold ring to me is a new Leupold. I don’t do jewelry, so buy this lady a new optic and you have made my day special! It took a few hunting blunders and animals that got a free pass for me to learn that the saying is true. You will do better with a high power, excellent quality optic than you will trying to get the fanciest of rifles. Do some research and find your “Franks”, then put one of everything ☺