How do you make it possible to have a successful spotting session on your next hunt? Two basic thoughts immediately spring to my mind. One, get the highest quality optics you can afford. Two, be patient.
Should you start Glassing?
Glassing has become popular lately in hunting magazines and hunting blogs. But it’s been a part of many successful hunter’s method for years. Glassing can basically be defined as hunting without or before shooting. Alternately, pre-scanning an area with binoculars or a spotting scope, in order to maximize the results of one’s hunt. For a growing number of modern hunters, glassing in an integral part of the entire hunting trip.
Going back to the first basic thought, what do I mean by buying high quality optics? I spend good amounts of money on my rifles and sighting equipment (if you buy cheap you buy twice). I’m also the same for spotting optics and tripods.
Lower quality optics can cause eye strain, may present an indistinct or soft image, or just aren’t rugged enough for a weekend or a several day outdoor trek. Sure, that pair of small binoculars I found on eBay may look like a real bargain. But this is one area where we need to really hold out for a quality piece of equipment.
Should I use a spotting scope or binoculars?
There are pros and cons for each tool. A spotting scope may offer a whole lot more magnification, but binoculars are usually a little easier on the eyes. Either way we go, we need to practice using them in various positions and conditions. That’s where the patience first comes in.
Finding that sweet spot with a scope
With spotting scopes, there is often a sweet spot of the eyepiece, a head and eye position that catches the image best. Even with a large exit pupil, it still takes some practice to get used to the best method of holding and sighting.
Many spotting scopes also have some very high power magnification, either as a single factor or a zoom. While we want to enhance our eyesight by zooming in, we also need to find our limits in how much magnifying power we can hold steady. This is where a glassing or spotting tripod comes in handy.
Using binoculars for glassing
With binoculars, there is usually less eye strain. Partly because of using both eyes and how high quality binocs handle light. It also feels more natural holding a pair up to our eyes. Another advantage many binoculars have is a large exit pupil, making it easier to find a good hand and eye position for the best viewing of game.
What do all these numbers mean?
Let’s look at what those numbers mean in the specs for scopes and binocs. We see the glass labeled as 10×50, 9×63, 12×80, 7-15×50, etc… The first number is the magnification factor, the second number is related to the aperture. That second number is the diameter in millimeters of the objective, the part of the lens facing away from us.
It lets us know its light gathering ability. A 10×50 is not ten by fifty power, regardless of what my grandpa may have told me. It’s a ten power optic with an aperture of 50mm. Zooming optics will have the magnification power listed before the x50, x80 etc… It will look like 7-15, or 12-20, or something similar. So a 10×50 is straight up ten power, a 7-15×50 zooms from seven power to fifteen. Both with a 50mm objective lens.
The most important part
Patience out in the field is critical. Take some time to scan around for good vantage points. Then, when we find that good spot, spend a while scanning around from there. We might be able to spot a pattern of the wildlife, and that can end up maximizing our final results.
One of the great things about glassing with high quality optics is that they don’t just enlarge the image, but they also bring in more light to our eyes. So, not only is my view ten times closer (with a 10 power), but it also looks brighter. Very advantageous in inclement weather or during morning and evening twilight. An advantage worth taking.
Glassing is a great way to enhance our hunts. We can spot prey better, and make better use of our time outdoors. Starting out with good glass is vital. Learning how to use it and then being patient in the field will maximize our end result. Happy hunting!