On The Ground

The telescope sired the spotting scope. When it was realized people had two eyes, the binocular was born — essentially two short telescopes joined by a hinge.

Years ago, hunting with the Inuits above the Arctic Circle, I carried a Bausch & Lomb 7x35 Zephyr, a wonderful binocular for its day. The patriarch of our group, a leathery man with hair pale as moonlight on snow, had a cheap, battered 7x50. He held it vertically, squinting through the bottom barrel because the other didn’t work. After canoeing through rowdy seas along the northern reach of Hudson’s Bay, we pitched tents on a rock spit. During the night, a south wind jammed a mountain range of ice against our shore. We hunted caribou the next day. The old man with the one-eyed binocular staggered in after dark with six hides strapped to his back by a rope. He’d shot all the animals with an iron-sighted .22.

Limited to one hunting optic, I’d pick a binocular over a riflescope. Indeed, my last hunts have been with open sights. A scope extends effective shooting range; it won’t help you find animals.