spotting animals at long range.


Well-Known Member
Dec 15, 2001
Hi I am somewhat new to hunting, this being my third year out. This year I am hunting in the Wasatch Mountains here in Utah, where as the last two years I hunted the flat desert. It seems a lot easier to spot moving animals in the desert than it is in the woodland mountains.

I know a lot of you guys long range hunt in mountainous areas. Can you offer some tips on how you spot animals in the mountains?

Do you glass the deep pockets of the canyons or the side hilltops, what time of day do you glass? Do you glass the thick timber or the open meadows? etc...

By the way I use my 8x30 binos and my Leupold 12-40x60 spotting scope to spot. I mostly use the binocs unless I spot something that needs a closer look.

[ 09-08-2002: Message edited by: sr90 ]
To spot animals at longrange in the woods and small clearings, you need bigeyes of at least 20X mounted on a tripod.

Handheld binoculars are not nearly as good as the bigeyes for looking into the areas you need to and at the distance you need to see the deer or elk.

A single spotting scope will draw on your eye and give severe eye strain when used for any length of time.
Best to invest in a good set of Spacemasters in a bracket. Hard to beat them for the price.

Darryl Cassel

[ 09-08-2002: Message edited by: Darryl Cassel ]
How much would you estimate that bigeyes setup would cost. I have been trying to keep all my gear manportable but I have noticed that my spotting scope does put a lot of strain on my eye. I think I will have to put the bigeyes on my to buy list.

What time of day do you glass? I would assume early morning and late evening, but have you had much success at others times during the day?

[ 09-08-2002: Message edited by: sr90 ]

Typically, the Deer and Elk will be moving early morning and just before dark ( typically ) at these times it may benifit to sit and watch the side of a mountain or meadows. During mid day they are in beds or in timber to stay concealed. This is the time you want to be out "still hunting" and glassing the heavy timber, rocky areas looking for bedded down animals. Most animals will sleep during the day, If you were a deer or an Elk where would you want to sleep ? Somewhere safe right?

[ 09-09-2002: Message edited by: *WyoWhisper* ]
Over the last few weeks I have been bowhunting half a dozen canyons in the East canyon Unit just North of East Canyon Resivor, but have only seen doe and one two point.

I think part of my problem is I was looking in a bad area, too dry.

Has anyone hunted in Utah? In the Wasatch Mountains (for mule deer or Elk) I am trying to find a place where I can longrange hunt and see a lot of Elk on public land, anyone know of a place.

How can I find a good area to hunt?

[ 09-09-2002: Message edited by: sr90 ]
New to this site, but I thought I would chime in. I learned from the best so I thought I would pass it on.
There are many keys to spotting animals at long range.
Good optics. I use Zeiss 10x40 Classic. I like the clarity and they are comfortable in my hands. I used a pair of Redfield 10x50 for years before I could afford the Zeiss and my eyes appreciate the change.
Get comfortable. Don't plan on ever doing any real glassing while standing. Squat, lay, lean against your daypack and get where your arms will not get tired from spending a lot of time looking through your glass.
Have a plan to how you are going to look. I always look for the obvious first. Check the skyline, check the edges of openings where animals are likely to be during feeding times and look for obvious anomalies. After looking in the obvious places, start checking the timber or brush and look for patches of color. Sheep can be seen for miles at 10x just because of there big white butts. Elk always show up well against green or a snowy backdrop. Mulies can be hard to spot depending on the time of year, but should not be too hard in an arrid environment during the fall as they are mostly gray this time of year.
Be patient. When you are glassing from a good place, go back over it a few times. It is nothing for a whole herd to hid behind a small grove of trees.
Use a spotting scope only to clarify what you are seeing.
Practice. During mid-day when big game is typically holed up and hiding, see if you can spot smaller animals at long distances. If you can see a squirrel or rabbit at 1000 yards, you will be able to see a deer in the same area with no problems.
Good Luck
Thanks QuietHunter

That is exactly the kind of tips I was looking for.

Welcome aboard.
I was telling my brother about this site and after checking out my post he politely reminded ("hey stupid") me that I had neglected to mention one of the most important tips. This may seem obvious, but is part of planning to glass. Put youself in a position so you are glassing toward the west in mornings and toward the east in the evenings. The sun will help you immensely if it is at your back and it is very hard to glass effectively into the sun.
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