To See or Not To See; That Should Not Be the Question

If you were to ask me what would be the most important item to take into the field when hunting besides my weapon, my answer without a second of hesitation would be “good optics.” Binoculars are an invaluable tool that I would never be caught without. Whether you use a bow or rifle, binoculars will open your eyes to things that you otherwise would not see.

I wasn’t always a binocular person. For many years, I didn’t really see the need. After all, I had a scope on my rifle. If I needed to get a closer look at something, I could just use my scope. I also found that carrying binoculars around my neck with a strap gave me migraines, so for me it just wasn’t worth the hassle. However, as time went by, I found using my scope was tedious, especially if I was hiking along and saw something that I wanted to take a look at. I would have to unshoulder my rifle, pull it up to my eye, find whatever I wanted to look at, try to hold steady while I got a good look, then reshoulder my rifle and move on. I started to get lazy because it was work to look everything I wanted to, so I became more selective in what I chose to use my scope for. Not to mention that using a scope is not a safe thing to do…you are pointing a potentially loaded gun at whatever it is that you are looking at. On more than one occasion, I have looked across a canyon at someone with my binoculars, only to find my eyes meeting another hunter looking back at me through his rifle scope; a rather disconcerting feeling.

Several years ago, I took up shed antler hunting and after several trips up hills or across canyons in pursuit of what I thought was an antler only to find a stick or weed, I decided to purchase a small, lightweight pair of binoculars. Suddenly, I could take in vast amounts of territory without having to waste time covering it on foot. I began seeing so many more animals and antlers that I never would have seen without binoculars. Unfortunately, even with the lightweight binoculars, I was still getting headaches when I wore them on a strap during a long day of hunting, so I wasn’t always consistent using them.

When I met my husband, I learned that he was a binocular connoisser. He had several pairs of high quality optics, which I had never had an opportunity to try. I think prior to him, my most expensive pair was about $130 and I thought the quality was pretty good until I compared them to better quality binoculars. I was amazed at the improvement in clarity and reduced eyestrain I experienced in the better pairs. He also introduced me to binocular harness systems, which has solved the headache problems I had been having with straps. Now I wear binoculars every time I go out, whether it is to scout, look for sheds, hunt, or hike. And I look through them all the time. It is so much easier to pull up the binoculars to my eyes to take a quick look at something than it was to use my scope.

Binocular can be used to see fine details of the landscape and help you determine if what you are seeing is a weed, log, tree, antler, animal, etc. I use them whenever I see something that looks out of place; a color variation, a shape, movement…anything that could possibly be an animal. Even if I highly doubt that it is an animal, I still check it out just to make sure. I’ve been surprised!

Binocular are also great for enhancing the entire outdoor experience. They will bring the activities of nature up close and personal. I enjoy watching the activities of wildlife doing what they do in their daily lives. Some of the coolest memories have nothing to do with the animals I am hunting but the other critters I get to watch while I am waiting for that big buck to come into sight.

Since making binoculars part of my hunting repertoire, I have seen far more than I ever imagined I was missing and my success as a hunter has increased immeasurably. Just a few weeks ago, while wolf hunting, I was scanning the tree line at the edge of a clearcut I was sitting on. I pride myself on having excellent animal spotting skill and I could see nothing when I scanned the area with my naked eye; however, as I surveyed the same area with my binoculars, I saw a group of three deer working their way through the trees. Even though I knew the deer were there, I still couldn’t see them without the assistance of binoculars. I can’t begin to count the times I have had similar experiences. How many animals have I missed because I didn’t use my binoculars?

For the serious hunter, binoculars are an invaluable tool if you really want to know what is going on around you. You can’t kill what you can’t see, but you don’t know what you can’t see if you don’t use binoculars!

Mar 16, 2013 | Category: Blog | Comments: none


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