Picking the Right Set of Eyes: How To Choose A Spotting Scope For Hunting

spotting scope

Hunting season is just around the corner. Your buddy Tom’s got himself a high-powered, ultra expensive sniper rifle that he’s gonna bring on you two’s trip into Mason Mountain. You admire his piece, but you know it’s not necessary. After all, a Henry .45 is just as good a hunting rifle as a Barrett M-82!

However, there is one thing that you admit you’re missing for your cheaper rifle. Your Henry has strong sights built into it, that’s a fact. The lever-action is smooth as butter and each of your hits are accurate 90% of the time. What else could such a powerhouse possibly need? I’ll tell you what it is: a way for that 90% to level up to more of a 98%. Ol’ Tom’s wallet may be crying, but he’s crying in laughter at the lack of tech your precious Henry is packing!

What better way to shut this man up than by purchasing a spotting scope?

What Is A Spotting Scope?

Spotting scopes are small, portable telescopes that can be placed onto a tripod when you’re at a loss of free arms. However, unlike full-size telescopes, spotting scopes have an added optics feature that is useful in presenting right-side up images. These devices are very high-powered, specifically made to observe sublunary objects on planet Earth as opposed to observing the many planets surrounding our own. Depending on your distance, you can also alter the magnification level of the scope to match whatever it is that you’re observing. You see a bird that you want to try your luck at popping? Zoom in to that fast moving prey. Want to take on a grizzly? Keep that bad boy still and channel your focus!

What Are Spotting Scopes Used For?

Picking the proper spotting scope can be tricky if you aren’t sure what to look for. As they are essentially mini telescopes, spotting scopes have a gigantic collection of uses for hobbies and sport. Depending on the initial intention for said scope, you may find that the price varies. Leisure activities such as bird-watching do not require such high-powered scopes while other activities–usually of the hunting variety–require more power.

Common activities associated with spotting scopes include, but aren’t limited to: birding, surveillance, hunting, and viewing landscape, wildlife, ships and other distant objects. Spotting scopes are also used for scoring targets on rifle, pistol, and archery ranges. They can even follow in the footsteps of their older brother and be used to observe the stars. Granted, astronomical studies are best approached with a larger telescope.

Regardless, we’re primarily focusing on hunting today.

What to Look For When Picking the Right Scope For Hunting

Seeing as how we’re primarily focusing on hunting today, let’s go over some key advice to picking the perfect spotting scope. First of all, it is recommended that you use a compact scope. We’ve all been stuck having to lug around our heavy hunting equipment from our car to our designated hiding spots. Not only does this waste time, but it only serves to effectively tire you out by the time you’re finally set up and ready to hunting. So a good call for hunting is bringing a hunting scope that is small and easy to carry around.

The only downside to using smaller scopes is that you’d be more limited in how much you’re able to magnify the images. The magnification range you’re usually able to reach on a compact scope is within 15-45, which is honestly all you need. You typically do not need an intensely high level of magnification for hunting–not unless you’re trying to shoot a squirrel over five miles away from you! It should be noted, however, that a compact scope is not necessary if you’re hunting from a truck. In fact, it’s recommended that you use a much larger, heavier scope in this scenario!

The second bit of advice is keeping context in mind; essentially remembering what type of hunting you’re looking to do. Are you going to hunt primarily during the early morning, or are you going out when it’s dark? Depending on the type of day, you’ll want to look for a spotting scope that can support the overall lighting of the day. If you’re planning on hunting while the sun is out, you’ll need to make sure that you’re getting a scope with the proper magnification levels. Meanwhile, for night time hunts, purchasing a night vision scope is REQUIRED.

In the end, it’s all about context–the only person who know what kind of hunting you’re going to do is YOU!

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