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optics set up for BP hunting

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Unread 09-01-2011, 11:25 AM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 92
optics set up for BP hunting

I am on the quest for the ultimate optics gear for backpack hunting, I am new to BP hunting so I am going through the learning curve. I hunt AZ and CA, high desert, the Sierras and foothills. I like the 8x binos because I can hand hold them and there are some nice light weight models. I like the idea of a good spotting scope so I can see into the detail in the brush a mile away. On the other hand when reducing weight you get smaller exit pupils in optics so low light performance suffers. So then is a 62mm-65mm spotter worth the weight vs the compacts? Another thing to consider is maybe going with really high quality 10x binos (save weight vs 15x ) w/tripod and magnification up to 20x on my rifle scope for counting tines, this could eliminate much of the need for a seperate spotting scope. Then there is the option of one optic besides the rifle scope, 15x binos and tripod. A guy can end up with a backpack full of optics and tripods if not careful. With all the experience you guys have, what have you found to be effective and efficient.
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Unread 09-05-2011, 10:10 PM
dig dig is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Arizona
Posts: 662
Re: optics set up for BP hunting

The Leica Douvids are a great option. 8x12x40 allows for low range hand holding at 8x and tripod use at 12x. Magneseum body makes for relatively light weight. Carry a light weight tripod such as the Outdoorsmans and a doubler or tripler and you are good to go. I sometimes carry a Leupold compact spotting scope as well but not any big, MM ones.
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Unread 09-09-2011, 08:57 PM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Alaska
Posts: 51
Re: optics set up for BP hunting

I've done a bit of backpack hunting and though there are a lot of great choices out there this is what I have found works best for me and where I am looking to upgrade.

Scope: Leupold VX3 2.5-8x36mm
Binos: 8x or 10x I have 8x and am always reaching for my buddies 10x. I am currently searching for a good 10x bino.
Spotting Scope: Something in the 15-45x60mm range works great. I have a 20-60x60mm and much past 40-50x gets pretty hazy. I am interested in checking out Leupold's new SX-1 Ventana 15-45x60mm Angled spotter. It would save me ~6ozs over my current spotter.. Maybe someday I'll get a nice Zeis or Pentax...

Hope that helps...
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Unread 09-10-2011, 08:14 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Searcy, Arkansas
Posts: 700
Re: optics set up for BP hunting

+ 1 on the 10X binos, for mountain hunting they will perform better for you and are not hard to hold steady. 15X binos are heavy and you will need a tripod or at least shooting sticks. The only experience I have with the 15s are a set of Swarovski's, awesome glass, great field of view, but too heavy for handheld use.

Personally I carry a pair of either 10X42 SLC Swaro's or 10X32 EL Swaro's, and a 80mm Zeiss spotting scope. The big scope is heavy and while I do like it I kind of wish I had my Swaro 65mm scope back. The big advantage to the 80mm scope is it will adjust to 60X and the 80mm front objective will allow you to resolve detail to a higher power than a 65mm scope. As a general rule I would recommend the 60 or 65mm objective for most applications. The trade off in performance to the 80mm is not worth the extra weight and size for most hunters.

One option you might consider is what I do if I know I am going into some really extreme country and want to really lighten my load. I carry my 10X32 ELs and a 2X converter. Swarovski makes a 2X converter that can be used with just about any model of Swaro bino. You unscrew one of the exit lenses and screw in the 2X converter and now you have a 20X spotting scope. If you carry a tripod with you can attach them to it and it really makes a pretty good spotting scope. Obviously, shooting sticks will work as well, but you will need one or the other to support them. The 2X converter is small and the weight is so little as to be negligible. This system will not compete with a full blown high quality spotting scope, but it is a good alternative when you are going into country where every ounce is a big deal.
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Unread 09-10-2011, 06:05 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Oregon
Posts: 583
Re: optics set up for BP hunting

I won't say it is the ULTIMATE but I use my Leica 10x42 BRF's and a 12-40X60 Leupold spotter. I have a tripod adapter for both that fits my Slik tripod. After my initial glassing, I put my binos on the tripod for serious work. If I had the money, the Swaro 65mm would probably get the nod. I haven't used one myself but there are lots of good reports on it. I wish the BRF's were lighter but at least I don't have to carry a RF also.
Tim Titus
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Unread 09-11-2011, 09:51 AM
Silver Member
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: AZ
Posts: 191
Re: optics set up for BP hunting

I am a glutton for punishment on this subject. I can't get away from carrying my Swaro 15x56's and want my Swaro 85mm spotter with me as well. I have 10x42 SLC's and a pair of 8x gold rings but I cant get myself to leave the big glass behind. I always convince my self the extra 2-3lbs is worth it by telling myself it saves me from walking to the next ridge to take a look. I did finally buy a carbon fiber tripod but I think the savings is less than half a pound.
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Unread 09-11-2011, 01:17 PM
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Washington St
Posts: 32
Re: optics set up for BP hunting

Couple of years ago I went on a hunt with a guy who had a set of leupold 10x42 binos and the other guy had swaros... I know you will all say the swaros were way better but after laying between the two guys for a week and trying both in all kinds of light.. I bought Leupolds.. I could've bought the swaros but chose not to..

I also have a Nikon 60mm hd scope.. my whole deal weighs a bit more than I like but since figuring it out I have tried other guys set ups and don't mind mine at all..

I am contemplating buying a set of big eyes binos in the future..
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