You just cruise country
roads toward evening, anytime from late summer through early winter (even during hunting
season), glassing anywhere you might see a deer. This is primarily along woods edges, of
course, but can also be along an overgrown fence line.
When bucks still have
velvet antlers youre even more likely to find them in the open, because they dont
like bumping those tender antler tips. Ive spotted as many as 14 bucks in one August
hay field. But Ive also spotted lone bucks cruising wood-lot edges in November and
found them bedded in tall fence-line grass in December - all this without setting a smelly
boot on the ground itself or otherwise disturbing their peace. The same technique works on
elk, mule deer, pronghorns or indeed almost any big game.
You can also use a
spotting scope to look at the moon (your 2.37 kids will like this) or Out West on that
semi-annual pronghorn hunt. You might even find a spotter more useful for finding bullet
holes than your 3-9x riflescope.
With spotting scopes its
far easier to work your way up the economic ladder than with binoculars or riflescopes.
Even the cheapest spotter, say something in the $100 range, will do the jobs described
above, while $100 binoculars often go out of alignment, and $100 scopes can come unglued
atop a .30-06. This is because spotting scopes are simpler than binoculars or riflescopes,
since they dont feature two barrels or an adjustable reticle. Theyre
just a telescope.
Top-dollar scopes do tend
to be more rugged, but their biggest advantage is optical. When magnification runs much
above 15x, keeping the colors in the spectrum together turns extra-tough. The view through
cheap scopes is often marred by fringing of objects by a halo of yellow, green
or purple. When you spend more for a really good scope, fringing goes away, especially in
scopes featuring specialized glass (generally known as ED) that prevents such color
scatter. But you can easily start with an affordable scope.
In more expensive scopes,
you may have to buy the eyepiece separately. Some models have several available, including
ED-glass versions, fixed magnification or different ranges of variable magnification. (You
can even buy scopes that have eyepieces coming straight out of the scope or at a 45-degree
angle. Buy the straight one.) Id advise the best variable eyepiece you can afford.
With variable scopes, you can turn power up or down to compensate for low light or heat
waves. By the way, either causes any eyepiece above 45x to be fairly useless for most
Youll also need a
tripod and window mount. The tripod rule is that higher tripods fuzz the view, because of
vibration. The handiest hunting tripod is one that telescopes from one to two feet, so can
be used either lying down or sitting up. A window mount is particularly handy when
scouting those velvet-antlered August bucks.