It is no question that having quality Binoculars and optics can help you to be a better hunter. Seeing game animals is half the battle while hunting. Quality optics helps you scout areas, appreciate the scenery and see opportunities that you may not have noticed without optics. When choosing optics, I look for the best quality optics I can afford. Good optics are not cheap and I want to make sure that my investment in quality glass lasts a lifetime.
I carry 2 pairs of binoculars, a rangefinder, a spotting scope and a scope on my rifles on just about every trip into the outdoors. This may seem like overkill but the majority of hunting I do is in wide-open terrain where I am glassing miles of canyons, mountains and open prairie. When I go into a stand, I carry a small set of binoculars and the rangefinder. Each situation is different and requires a different optic.
Full Size Binoculars
Binoculars come in two varieties: full size and compact. Full size binoculars are my go to optics for 90% of my hunting. They are my most trusted optics in the field. I have used porro prism style binoculars in the past when my budget for hunting was minimal and they worked for several years. Most hunters opt for more expensive roof prism binoculars ranging in 42-50mm objective lenses. With western hunting, I prefer 10x binoculars for most of my glassing. I have used 15 by 56 binoculars in the past but I find their weight makes it hard to keep steady. I do not often use them unless they are mounted on a tripod. Over the years, I have worked hard to minimize the gear I carry into the field so I have ditched my heavy 15 by 56 glass and traded them in for a great set of 10 by 42 binoculars and a small set of compact binoculars. These are easy to slip into my pocket for long stalks or prolonged sitting in a tree stand where I am often only glassing in conditions under 100 yards. This year, I am using the Vanguard Endeavor ED II 1042 binoculars. I have found them to be excellent optics at a reasonable price of $399.00. These are great binoculars that will not break the bank and come with a full warranty. Roof prism binoculars can range in price from $200.00 to $3,000.00 and this year we focused on binoculars that are affordable and offer value.
When I am going on a stalk or sitting in the treestand, I want a pair of binoculars that are light, easy to focus and fit in my cargo pocket on my pants so that they are out of the way when drawing my bow or making a quick shot. This year we used the Nikon Trailblazer Compact 10×25 Binoculars and found them to be tough as nails. They offer a rubber-armored body, waterproof design and easy to use controls with a central focus knob for easy viewing. These are nowhere near as good as full-sized binoculars but they work well and provide the quick magnification we need with one handed use. These are also priced right at $89.99. Having compact binoculars allows me to slip in to treestands or go on stalks while remaining as light and mobile as possible.
Spotting scopes are essential if you are hunting big terrain. We often hunt canyon ranches. Having a spotting scope allows us to zoom in on big deer and get a real sense of how big that animal is before we spend hours stalking up a mountain or across several canyons in pursuit of a deer. With a magnification range of 20x to 60x and an 82mm objective lens we have settled on using the Endeavor HD 82A for our spotting scope. We have used many of the great high-end spotting scopes costing well into the $3000.00 range but for the money the Endeavor HD 82AS priced at $449.99 does the job for us and gives us a quality image at a long range. Spotting scopes require a tripod or window mount. We like the Vanguard because it has relatively lightweight tripods and a window mount that works extremely well.
The great thing about having a quality spotting scope is that with today’s smart phone cameras, you can purchase a Phone Skope Digiscoping Adaptor for your specific phone, specific case and specific spotting scope for under $80.00. With the Bluetooth shutter remote you can take photos of what you are seeing through your spotting scope to share with friends and social media. When I scout a particular ranch, I want to document the best bucks that I am seeing and this allows me to get quality photos at distances up to one mile.
Rifle scopes are an investment in your hunting success. Poor quality rifle scope mounted on your rifle leads to nothing but frustration. With years of guiding experience under my belt, I have seen just about every configuration of scope and rifle combination you can imagine including $2000.00 scopes on a $400.00 30/30 lever action. For the majority of western hunting, we recommend a 3 by 9 by 40mm scope as a standard. This year we tested out the Sig Sauer Whiskey 5 scope that was 3-15x44mm and we loved it. The 15-power was more than needed for the canyons and windy conditions we experienced but overall the scope had great light gathering capability and is a solid performer. With a price tag at a bit over a $1000.00, this might be quite an investment. If you are looking for a serious long-range scope, this is a good option. It comes with the ability to get a custom turret specifically tuned to the ballistics and rifle that you are shooting and allows you to dial in an exact range. When purchasing a scope, also consider purchasing high quality rings and mounts for your scope. I mount my scopes on my rifle one time and I want to be assured that those rings and mounts are tight and locked on my rifle so I do not have to sight in my rifle year after year or worry about the scope getting knocked off of zero.
Purchasing optics does not have to be as daunting as it looks. Look at optics as an investment in your future success. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to comment below and we will be more than happy to offer advice when we can or steer you to an expert to help you make the best investment.