New binos or spotting scope?

GetReel

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Nov 2, 2015
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167
Location
Fargo ND
So, after 6 years I finally drew a ND mule deer tag in the badlands. I have over $1000 saved up in Cabela’s bucks that I was saving for when I drew this tag. I want to get new glass. Either a new pair of binoculars or a spotting scope. Currently I have a pair of Scheels Icon 10x50 binoculars, nothing special (+/- $200 retail). I don’t have a spotting scope but I could borrow my brothers Vortex Viper (20-60 I think).

How would you approach it?
 

Troutslayer2

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May 28, 2010
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327
My binos are nothing fancy and I put a lot of $ into my spotter. For me, that is the more valuable tool. Car window mount, carbon tripod, ball head... I did the same, saved up points and bought the Swaro when Cabela’s was having a sale, and running a promotion where you got back like 15% points or something like that. I don’t remember what I paid but I remember that I didn’t cheap out every time I use.
 

wyowinchester

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Jul 2, 2012
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N. WYOMING
I've found that a great pair of bino's are indispensable. Dusk and dawn are two of the most informative times of the day. Finding the animals to look at. Is more important. Spotting scopes help evaluate what you find.
 

xsn10s

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Mar 7, 2016
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1,135
Normally I'd say binos, I use those much more than my spotting scope. But a group of guys I know spend a lot of time glassing with their spotting scopes. They hunt an area with tons of big bulls and spot them from a mile or more away.
 

BoomFlop

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Oct 16, 2012
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539
Location
Wisconsin
Just from my experience with Mule deer in SD.

A tripod is worth it’s weight in gold for binoculars. A great tripod (I use a Slik 624 carbon) makes seeing detail regardless of power night and day.

I wear Swarovski 8x32 EL’s one the stalk and while whitetail hunting my home state of Wisconsin. Really any binos will work for the stalk.

I debated on spotter or high power Bino’s and talked to a couple Super Slam hunters about it as well. I decided on Swarovski 15x56 HD’s with an Outdoorsman Mount. Couldn’t be happier. I can look through them all day (which you will) because I can use both eyes. I can spot bedded deer over a mile away as well.

As a non-resident, I’m looking for a good buck. Nice frame, however, 5” in score isn’t going to dictate a shooter for me or not. This is the value of a spotting scope. Also, keep in mind that an early season mule deer hunt will be warm. You will not be able to use all the available power in most cases due to mirage.

My suggestion would be to purchase Swarovski 8.5 or 10x40’s and put them on a quality tripod. Take the spotter if you want, but you will find and judge game just fine with a great optic and a quality tripod.

Good luck on your hunt!

Steve
 

Country Bumpkin

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Sep 22, 2015
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511
Location
Boise, ID
I agree with the advice to borrow the spotter, spend money on Binos. The most important aspect of a western hunt is locating animals from afar, which means spending a lot more time behind binos. Once you locate a buck (which with quality binos will be easy to determine) then you switch to spotter to see if it’s worth getting closer to. I’d venture to say that, if looking through a viper spotter vs a high quality spotter, if an animal looks “borderline” to you in one, it will look borderline in the other ( either way you are getting closer to verify). As you get into “range”, whether you define that as 300 yards or 1,000 yards, that viper is still going to help you decide shoot or not.

Of course, if you will only be satisfied with a 190” buck, and assuming you are an EXPERT field judger of inches, then throw all of this information out the window. If you are literally adding up inches and will not click off the safety if the buck doesn’t meet your mark, then you will need that high quality, high power, spotter (and a very sturdy tripod).

my advice, spend $1200-$1500 on binos and $300+ on tripod (personally I’m not very picky about the head).
 

A/C Guy

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Nov 16, 2008
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193
Location
Apache Junction, Az
Another vote for binoculars since your brother already has a scope that you can borrow. I would not get less than 10x, probably higher if the area is open country or mountainous.
 

Buck Fever

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Mar 10, 2020
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384
Location
The bad bush
My spotter has a Binoviewer on it but it's not the most rugged thing ever.

I agree on the importance of the tripod, a shakey image is no good. You also need a way to move the binoculars or spotting scope without adding a ton of vibration. I use an astronomy style mount with slow motion control.

You can get a setup like mine from Swarovski but it will cost 10x as much. It will be fairly rugged.
 

Recon$$

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May 24, 2011
Messages
212
Borrow the scope and buy the best binos in your budget. Make next year the scope year. If you can't borrow it, buy the scope and round out the tools.
 

manitou1

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Joined
Mar 27, 2012
Messages
69
Location
Missouri
Ninety-five percent of my glassing is with binos. Like stated above... binos on a tripod. Borrow a spotter if you feel the need to haul the extra weight as they are handy for picking apart an individual animal for score or confirmation at very long range.
 

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