Re: Hunting scope
Plenty of threads on this I think - you mention "BEST", "$2,000" and "500yds or less". I think the answer is pretty easily one of the good european scopes: Zeiss, Swarovski, Schmidt & Bender...
They have some great models at or just below that price. Read the "Ziess vs. NF" thread here. Most agree the Zeiss, Swaro etc. have better glass (better image, cleaner, crisper, brighter etc. ) than even the Nightforce. If you wanted a 1000yd+ gun, then the NF would make a lot of sense - great adjustment, built like a tank. If you are at 500 yds and less and you want "the best" for under $2000, the Ziess, Swaro, S&B are it - they have the best optics and don't weigh a ton, yet are still tough and reliable.
I have a NF and a good Swaroski - the Swarovski is much better for the use you mention. If you look through it or the Zeiss 500 yards across a beanfield at dusk they will blow away most of these lesser scopes.