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Old August 13, 2012, 10:23 AM   #1
Mayor Al
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Pocket Rangefinder? Useful or Not worth it?

I bought a laser range finder to see if it would be a good addition to my field tools on a hunt. So far in "training" exercises it has been useful, but I find that my visual estimates are in the ball park with the readouts of the rangefinder. Here in our locale we don't deal with many sightings over 100 yards away. It may become one more thing in the in-the-blind field bag, but not in a pocket.

Do any of you use one of these tools? If so what are typical scenarios for it's best performance.
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Old August 13, 2012, 10:47 AM   #2
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Trust your instincts !!

I started out in bow-hunting and all instinctive shooters become pretty darn good at judging distances, to a point. I suspect you too have developed this skill. My hunting enviroment is pretty much the same as yours and no, I don't use one. That is not to put them down, I just don't need one. ....

I also suspect, that you already have the answer ....

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Old August 13, 2012, 10:47 AM   #3
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I hunt with muzzle loader, rifled shotgun, and handguns. I carry a rangefinder with me but it only comes out if the animal is at the outside edge of my limits. Like you I can estimate range close enough for most shots. I will pull the rangefinder out when I set up for a long sit on an open meadow or clear cut. Just to get landmarks and practice estimating range to pass time. It helps me to be better at estimating range in the field.
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Old August 13, 2012, 11:10 AM   #4
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What Pahoo says is very true. In bow hunting, you get pretty good at estimating ranges from about 10 yds up to about 60. However, the problem comes in low-light situations. That's when the human eye isn't so good at estimating range correctly. That's why even experienced bowhunters will frequently bring a rangefinder along with them. When you climb into a stand before sunrise and it gradually gets light enough to see, it's hard to tell whether the tree in front of you is 30 yds or is it really 35 yds. To a rifle shooter a 5 yd difference doesn't mean squat. To a bow hunter, that 5 yds can mean the difference between a clean hit and a lightly wounded animal.
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Old August 13, 2012, 12:45 PM   #5
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In my home hunting area I am pretty good at estimating distances close enough.

But, when I go to the Rocky Mts. elk hunting everything is on such a larger scale it is hard to estimate. I have seen what I thought was 600 yards be 1000 on a rangefinder.

If you can get a good rest a 300 or 400 yard shot is within the skill of most veteran hunters on an elk size target. But, you had better know which it is.

Inside of 200 yards it makes no difference with most any modern rifle.
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Old August 13, 2012, 12:46 PM   #6
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I feel the same about judging distance bow hunting. I did get a Nikon range finder as a gift last year. Since then I keep it in my back pack. When I get into a tree or blind I range a few different points for reference. I did find though that it is more helpful in setting up a target to practice.
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Old August 13, 2012, 01:40 PM   #7
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I like them and use them quite a bit while hunting. Last year chasing elk I ranged some cows at 400 yards as the bullet flies across a very steep draw. I would have guessed them much further than that because my eyes were taking in all the downhill and uphill walking I would have to do to get there. If there hadn't been a 30 MPH crosswind I might have taken the shot, by my eyes were telling my brain the were at least north of 600 yards by quite a bit.

Are they necessary all the time, not really unless you are doing a lot of stalking. But they are handy in big country, and chasing pronghorns across wide open prairies. If you are sitting in a stand the are nice to rang reference points the put away in the bag.
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Old August 13, 2012, 02:01 PM   #8
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They are helpful if you are hunting an area unfamiliar to you, but in most cases where I hunt, I have ranged the distances when I set up my stand, to make mental references of the distances that I might have to shoot.
Here in Southeastern Oklahoma, it is rare to get a shot more than 100 yards, and unless you are bow hunting, you can get a fairly good reading with the naked eye.
When I bow hunt, I will take one with me, and range everything around me when I put up my stand, and then put it away. If you try to use it while hunting, it more than likely will turn into movement that will lose shots for you, rather than help you make them.
It's always great to know your distances, but it's something that I think you should do before hunting. They would probably be good to have for a stalker, but I'm getting to old for that stuff, and do my hunting from established stands now.
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Old August 13, 2012, 05:45 PM   #9
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Less than 100 yards I can get by using my "guessing experience". Where it really comes in handy is out west where there are few reference points to judge the distance against.

Prairie dog hunting.....they are an absolute must have. Next best thing to locking into a GPS coordinate. This one is capable of 1600+ yards.

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Old August 13, 2012, 06:02 PM   #10
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What do you shoot?

It really depends on how critical range is to your trajectory.

I.e. at 200 yards, you could mis-estimate your range by 50 yds and be fine. With a crossbow at that range, you would need +/- 1 yd accuracy.
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Old August 13, 2012, 06:37 PM   #11
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I hope you don't use a crossbow at 200. Point well taken though. Range finders are most helpful for long shots and are best used for pre-ranging as discussed above.
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Old August 13, 2012, 07:08 PM   #12
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Instrinctive Shooting is a science

"guessing experience".
It's called instinctive shooting where your brain is allowed to program itself since the time we were cave men. It's a wonder what your brain can do when you allow it to so.

Just ask Byron Ferguson !! .....

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Old August 13, 2012, 08:26 PM   #13
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I use mine so know various distances around my hunting area but it isn't a tool that I must have. It's a nice tool to have out west but here in the Kentucky woods, it's more of a high priced toy although it is fun to know the exact distance of my shot once an animal is down.
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Old August 13, 2012, 10:46 PM   #14
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I have a Leica .I use it setting up my informal rifle range.I use it practicing.I have carried it hunting a fair amount,used it some.

Here is my opinion,others may disagree.From a 250 Savage,to a .308,30-06,7-08,etc,even a .338 or .375 H=H,ball park,2 or 3 in high at 100 will get you on about 200,and 8 or so in low at 300.More or less.

Within those ranges,a general confirmation,plus or minus 30 yds or 50 yds will get you close enough for a clean kill.

For that sort of ranging,you can compare your target of a known approximate size to any known feature of your sights,like your duplex,or blade height/width,or your bead,sort of using the mil-dot principle,and ballpark the range,especially have an idea of "too far",..."hold up 8 in" or "put it on and shoot"

Its always in your hand,you do not have to move to use it,and,within its limits,works fine.

All it costs is taking the time to learn and understand it.
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Old August 14, 2012, 02:20 PM   #15
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I use one quite regularly. I was not very good at judging distance but since using it I am much better. Just a little thing not much bigger than a mini maglight.
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Old August 15, 2012, 12:59 AM   #16
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If you hunt from a blind as the OP indicates, then it shouldn't be too difficult to get accurate yardage.
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Old August 15, 2012, 05:02 AM   #17
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As a rule, hunting familiar territory, I don't usually carry mine while hunting as I already know the distances I'd most likely be shooting at.

What I have experienced is that steep ravines will play tricks on our perception of distance when sitting on one side of the ravine, looking across ravine and judging distance to the other side. Things seem to look closer then they really are.

One of my favorite hunting spots during black powder season is situated in an area as described above. Sitting on one side of a large, steep ravine and shooting across it into the opposite hillside. First year I hunted the area, shot under two deer, never touched em. ....after checking zero on my rifle, went and used rangefinder only to find out that my guess of distance was way short.

I've set up several experienced hunters in this exact same spot. When asking them what they thought the distance was across to a certain landmark, not one was very close. Again, always short.

A surveyor/hunting friend of mine says he has trouble judging long distances in this type of situation as well.

Soooo... as a rule...on flat or gentle rolling hills, short bow hunting ranges, I don't have a problem with distances out to about 200yds. Give me an area in the example mentioned above(shooting across large steep ravine), I'd feel more secure using a rangefinder prior to shooting. Preferably, ranging landmarks prior to opening day.
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Old August 17, 2012, 10:33 PM   #18
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I use one, just to be sure. Rembrandt- I bought one of those when I got my .338. The best one I have used, worth the money.
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Old August 18, 2012, 08:42 PM   #19
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Yes, my Leica is useful and worth it. For bow hunting I range trees (beyond 20 yards) in five yard increments from my tree stand and mark them with thumb tacks. While I take it shotgun hunting for deer and rifle hunting for deer, elk and bear, I haven't actually used it very much on rifle hunts.
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