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Old July 13, 2014, 06:20 PM   #1
ezmiraldo
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Binoculars v. spotting scope for hunting?

Hi folks! I see some recommending scopes, while others advocate binoculars for hunting. Some of you might say "get both", but I don't want to carry to much gear on hunts and want to start by buying only one or the other (plus, don't have extra cash to spare). So, what are some things to consider when deciding on buying a spotting scope v. binoculars? I plan on hunting deer, elk, black bear in southwest. Distances I will be shooting might be from 50 to 300 yards; distances for spotting critters might be 500-1500 yards. Lots of hills and mountains around here, plus lots of deserts. Thanks for you help!
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Old July 13, 2014, 06:40 PM   #2
MarkCO
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Binos, monocular, range finder, spotting scope?

You missed two of the four general options.

I hunt big game 3 to 6 times a year, and a lot of other hunting and competition I use optics for spotting and observation as well. Some of it depends on what you are hunting, when, and the terrain. That also narrows down magnification.

I rarely use a spotting scope for anything except close observation and guessing rack size on specific game at far distances, like 1000 yards and out. If I am hunting cow elk or doe deer, I don't even take them with me.

With quality binoculars, you can easily scan and locate animals up to a few miles out and determine their general attitude. But scoring them or determining sex (on some species) will be harder.

Inside 300 yards, I would not bother with a range finder, however, you may want to consider them. Some of the better range finders, especially the binocular version, can do almost all of the chores needed.

I really like a 10X monocular, especially when I am pack, or basecamp hunting. Lighter and compact, there are some that have ranging reticles and some with excellent glass as well.

If I could only have binos or spotting scope, I would go for binos, but I have all of the choices and use them in the set of parameters each is best suited for as much as possible.
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Old July 13, 2014, 06:44 PM   #3
ezmiraldo
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Thanks, Mark. I will be getting a good dedicated laser rangefinder, too. Can a decent set of binoculars (or a spotting scope) be had for $200-400? I want to be able to spot critters out to about 800-1200 yards, or more... I will be hunting for food -- so trying to determine if critter is a big enought trophy or not does not matter.
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Old July 13, 2014, 07:32 PM   #4
Art Eatman
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For just checking out the countryside for brief periods, even low-end binocs will work. Lengthy periods at a sitting = eyestrain. But anything is better than checking countryside with your scope: Somebody might take offense. I know I would. Generally, the old standby 7x25 binocs work just fine. Not all that heavy. But a lightweight 8x20 or 8x30 should be of higher quality, just for better vision. I have a pair of lightweight Nikon 8x30s that are quite bright.

I use a long strap, hanging the binocs at my left beltline with the strap over my head. That way, they don't flop around and are out of the way when walking-hunting.

Spotting scopes are great at a range or for those who do very long range searching and shooting. But quality = weight. And they work better with a tripod, which is more weight.

As far as lasers, I bought an early Bushnell 800. Testing against known 1/4-mile corners, it's indeed accurate to 800 and more yards--as a function of reflectivity. Does okay on boulders at 600 and on out. Anything "better" will likely work at least as well.
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Old July 13, 2014, 07:46 PM   #5
MarkCO
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$200-$400 is a fine budget. I hunt with a guy who uses $1200 Swaros...he can not find or see anything I can not. I agree with Art, and at the distances you are wanting to work, even the $100 class will be fine. I'd not suggest the compact $30 versions if you plan on glassing for any period of time, but the full sized ones are not bad. I keep a pair of cheap binos car too.

I like Burris, and I have some Landmarks and some Signatures, 8x and 10x, about $150 to $400 depending on which model, but there are a lot in the decent range. Vortex makes some great ones too and I use their 10x monocular.
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Old July 13, 2014, 07:53 PM   #6
ezmiraldo
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Looks like none of you guys are using spotting scopes much for hunting. Is it due to weight, mainly?
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Old July 13, 2014, 07:59 PM   #7
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A spotting scope is not a replacement for binoculars. Narrow field of view and difficulty of moving to view different areas. Spotting scopes only become of value when game is spotted(using binos) and further assessment is needed(generally speaking). Sure, you can find game at long range with spotting scopes but in the mean time, a dozen trophies might walk past just outside your tiny field of view.
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Old July 13, 2014, 08:19 PM   #8
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At a max range of only 300 yards binoculars are plenty. Spotting scopes are more helpful when you are checking out game in the next zip code.
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Old July 13, 2014, 10:15 PM   #9
MarkCO
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I don't ever use a spotting scope to spot, only to examine more closely on stuff that is a mile or more away. Sometimes I can pick up game trails, or spot water or beds that they might be moving towards or from that helps me plan a stalk. Also if I am after more than a meat animal, to see if it worth the stalk or not.

Like Pronghorn, at a mile with 8x binos, I can not accurately judge the rack. But at 45x or 60x I can tell which Buck I want. I watched a buck bed down about 15 years ago at 3 miles...met him at the water hole the next morning about 10 minutes before sunrise...could not have judged him, found the water, nor figure the land lay as well with binos.
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Old July 14, 2014, 08:40 AM   #10
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Binoculars are going to help you in your hunting much more than a spotting scope so I'd get them first, and a decent pair can be had in your price range. The only time I've ever used a spotting scope while hunting was to judge horn size on animals that were a long ways out there and it does not sound like you'll be doing that.
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Old July 14, 2014, 10:03 AM   #11
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I use binoculars to spot when hunting, but the terrain where I hunt in northern colorado is too heavily wooded to set up a spotting scope and "glass" like you see on TV.
It's got critters, you just have to go find 'em in person.
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Old July 14, 2014, 12:57 PM   #12
buck460XVR
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If you need more than 10X for the job, you are better off with a scope and tripod. Lotta good bino glass out there for 2-300 bucks and will work well for even the most discriminating hunter.
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Old July 14, 2014, 03:37 PM   #13
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I've always carried a pair of 7X50 B&L binocs for 50+ years. Too much trouble to set up a spotting scope.
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Old July 14, 2014, 04:29 PM   #14
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Caveat: I've not hunted the desert / open terrain. But some people who seem to know what they're talking about like "big binos" instead of a small spotting scope, for spotting game. I'm not talking huge, like 70 or 80 or 90mm, but "big" - 50, 55, & 60mm objectives, and *quality* - the usual suspects of Swaro, Leica, Zeiss, Brunton, etc - and go ahead and still use the tripod with the binos (or not - either way) - the binocular vision with a large objective and high quality glass does really enhance ability to spot things, supposedly - and plus you then carry one optic device instead of two, saving weight. Oh, the magnif on these should be in the very high range (12x to 15x), but a 10x would work, too....the glass quality is more important than the magnif. I dunno - I would defer to others on this.
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Old July 14, 2014, 06:13 PM   #15
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Do you guys know if one can "read mirage" to determine wind speed using binocs? Or are spotting scopes the only way to go for this?
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Old July 14, 2014, 11:11 PM   #16
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Save up and buy a good pair of binoculars. The cheap ones are fine for a while but eventually something is going to happen to them. I have a pair of Bushnell Legend 10X42's that only work through the left side. I have a pair of Bausch and Lomb 8X42's that were dropped on our lawn and are junk. I have a pair of Nikon Travelite II's that are getting foggy but i have had them for 20+ years. I now use a pair of 10X50 Leica's for long range glassing. I have fallen with them and dropped them with no ill effect. I use a Swaro 1600 yd rangefinder with an 8X ocular, also excellent... The Leica's and the Swaro Range finder were expensive but always work.
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Old July 14, 2014, 11:50 PM   #17
Nathan
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I use 7x42 binos. I find them a bit much treestand hunting in OH, but not quite enough hunting antelope in MT's open country. If I were looking for open country binos, I would be looking for 10x42-50'd made by Pentax, Minox, or Nikon. Mine are a Bushnell Elite, which is good too.

I have used a spotting scope hunting, but usually to clarify what is in a herd in case of trophy quality. I find binos better in most hunting conditions. Spotting scopes excel when glassing off a cliff at game 600 yds to a couple miles away.
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Old July 15, 2014, 12:54 AM   #18
fdf
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"Do you guys know if one can "read mirage" to determine wind speed using binocs? Or are spotting scopes the only way to go for this?"

Huh?
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Old July 15, 2014, 02:35 AM   #19
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Mirage and wind are two entirely different things.
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Old July 15, 2014, 06:04 AM   #20
skoro
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Binoculars v. spotting scope for hunting?

You didn't mention a price range. These are great for your intended purpose if they fit your budget.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...tabilized.html
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Old July 15, 2014, 08:08 AM   #21
ezmiraldo
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I might be wrong, but I heard that one can determine wind velocity by examining mirage movement on the ground. Supposedly, variable-magnification spotting scopes are very handy for this task, as one can focus on various sections of the bullet path to examine mirage and than calculate windage adjustments. I'm no expert -- this is just what I heard.
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Old July 15, 2014, 08:22 AM   #22
kraigwy
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I don't carry either. I just use my Range finder. I use the Leopold range finder which is 8X.

I don't like to carry much when I'm hunting being old and wimpy.
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Old July 15, 2014, 08:29 AM   #23
MarkCO
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Mirage, and using it to pick up wind direction, is very difficult to see in most environmental conditions until you are past 10x. When it is cold, probably hard even with high mag spotting scopes.
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Old July 15, 2014, 08:48 AM   #24
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Once you try an image stabilized binocular, you will never go back.

Canon make an excellent series.

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Old July 15, 2014, 10:08 AM   #25
Wyoredman
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Quote:
Spotting scopes only become of value when game is spotted(using binos) and further assessment is needed(generally speaking).
BS! Spotting scopes are used for locating game in the West. I have spent countless hours behind the lens of a spotting scope looking for mule deer, elk and sheep. Without a spotting scope, hunting in the western mountains becomes a crap shoot. Miles and miles of varied, open terrain mixed with cliffs, brush trees and mountains and valleys! A spotting scope is a MUST for this type of hunting.

But to answer the OP's original question, if you can only afford one or the other, bino's will be much more useful to you. For western hunting, 8 to 10 power are the go to magnification. Some very nice glass is available now for you target budget of $400.
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