Mountain hunting optics

jrock

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I am hunting a new area, "the mountains (8000 to 10000'." Last year I hiked up and down mountains and covered very little ground and was pretty frustrated. Enter the old saying of using your glass more than your legs.

I have been eyeing some spotting scopes since and then I had a thought. "A good spotting scope is $1k+ and I wouldn't use it as much as my binos. Why not spend the money on the binos which I will use way more. I've heard that top end binos make up a lot of ground on a spotting scope."

Any general thoughts on what optic best saves hiking time in the mountains?
 

Timber338

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You're right on track that you'll find more animals with less effort spending more time behind glass.

I personally view spotting scopes as a great tool if you are trying to find a trophy animal. I do own a spotting scope, but never pack it in for any of my big game hunts where weight is critical. I am not a trophy hunter and currently use a pair of Leica 8x42 binocs. They have excellent glass and have no problem finding elk at any reasonable distance.

Although I don't think 8x is ideal for high-mountain glassing over long ranges. I think they are a great all around power for everything including stalking through forests.

Right now I'm looking at a pair of 12x50 Vortex Razor HD binocs. They are pretty light compared to others, and I think 12x would be better for a dedicated optic for exactly what you are talking about. Just going to require a hiking stick or some other other rest to stabilize.

Obviously there are some very expensive high end optics, but I think it's best to look through several different pairs and see what your eyes like. I don't think it's absolutely necessary to spend the money for the super high-end binocs, I think it comes down to your own eyes and how much money you are willing to spend.
 

sp6x6

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When your hiking and breathing hard a higher power optic is harder to use. 8x is about ideal in a good glass.Im older and carry to much already so I use a light modell.I packed scopes of varing size but now have large optic on rifle that I use to judge quality of game.I run 10x32 els I had 10x42 before that and liked the smaller size.I still pack scope a bit for bears but dont usually hike as far for them.But I use a spotter alot.
 

jrock

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I currently use a 10x42 pair of binos and really like the 10 power. Going to 12x seems like a good idea. I'll compare FOV for 12x as 10x in the woods is almost too much power.

I do have a Zeiss Conquest HD 5x25x50 rifle scope so I can use that for judging but can't use it for spotting animals.

I've heard most people comment about spotting scopes not being much use over 30x due to lack of light. Just another reason I'm hesitant since 5x more over my rifle scope isn't worth the price.
 

Rich Coyle

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jrock,

I'm with some of the others on using higher magnification scope to judge animals rather than pack a spotting scope along. Saves a lot of weight. I use 7X binos, which are always in the backpack, in the woods and either 10X binos or 15X binos out in the open sage. The 15X go on a tripod since I only have to carry them from the pick up to the glassing spot.
 

jrock

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Makes sense to judge with a rifle scope but my question is more about glassing to find the animals. By the responses I've been getting, it seems that binos are better than investing in a spotting scope.
Last season, I spotted an animal at 1300 yards with my binos just coming out of the timber and couldn't' tell if it was an elk or deer more or less if it had antlers. Maybe I just need an upgrade to my binos?:rolleyes:
 

bruce_ventura

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For your needs, I would recommend a 10X-12X bino, depending on your eyesight and ability to carry a load. Steep hiking at high elevation with a pack, rifle and other gear dictates a compromise on all gear to keep weight down.

If your eyesight is good, a 10x40 bino is lighter than a 12x50 bino, which is much lighter than a 15x56 (my favorite for glassing). If you have eyesight issues, you may need the higher 12X magnification. If you have astigmatism, buy a bino with a long eye relief and use correction when glassing to get the most out of your bino. Keep your optics clean and use a rest, preferably a light tripod.
 

Timber338

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Makes sense to judge with a rifle scope but my question is more about glassing to find the animals. By the responses I've been getting, it seems that binos are better than investing in a spotting scope.
Last season, I spotted an animal at 1300 yards with my binos just coming out of the timber and couldn't' tell if it was an elk or deer more or less if it had antlers. Maybe I just need an upgrade to my binos?:rolleyes:

That sounds to me like you simply need an upgrade to your binocs. With my 8x42 Leicas it's pretty easy for me to tell a cow from a small bull from a trophy bull out to a couple of miles in good conditions. I wouldn't be able to size the trophy bull but I can pretty easily see the big rack hanging up high above the head with white tips compared to the smaller satellite Bulls that are smaller and often times do not have white tips. The lighter body color of elk through good binocs make them easy to tell apart from deer.

You should be excited because you really don't know what you're missing with a good set of binocs... First time out with a new pair I guarantee you're gonna be amazed!
 

sp6x6

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Ive had my els for probably 10 years,soi n early years I packes a small doubler for checking trophyy caliber,still use once in a while.Im going to match it to my terrapin for long range lazering
 

timberbuck

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At a minimum I would take a good 10x42 and a compact spotting scope like the Nikon ED 50 or Vortex Razor 50 and a quality small/lightweight tripod. Have your binocular set up to use on the tripod. You will be amazed how much more you will see with your binocular tripod mounted. The small spotter will be for judging the quality of animals not finding them.

If hunting with a partner a good 65mm spotter can come into play.
 

couesaddict

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I personally pack 10's about half the time for closer glassine but am never seen out and about without my 15's. Of course I'm usually after coues which are much harder to spot than elk at a distance but I feel the most comfortable glassing through my 15's for anything as long as I can get a good vantage point. Always with a tripod. I also bought a spotting scope several years ago to save on leg work and be able to better judge the size of animals. I don't feel it's necessary if you don't trophy hunt but if you do a good spotter will save a lot of leg work going to inspect critters you glassed but couldn't quite get a good judge on. Just my $.02
 

jrock

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Thanks all. I do have a slight astigmatism and wear glasses so thanks for the heads up on eye relief. Yes, it does sound like I need to upgrade my binos. I do love trophy hunting but have passed on too many animals the last few years to end up with nothing in the freezer. Right now, I just want the best optical equipment to save on leg work and make better use of my hunting time.
 

couesaddict

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The new swaro HD's are unreal. Several of my buddy's have them and they are considerably clearer and brighter than my old slc 15's. Pricey but they're awesome. Working my way towards upgrading myself.
 
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