Through A Glass.

A hunter’s binocular ranks in importance right behind the rifle. I can get along without a scope if I have to (and as a teenager I had to), I can even get along without a knife (OK, that would be tough) but I can hardly imagine being outdoors without a binocular.

rifleman 1

The new Conquest HD from Zeiss is a terrific binocular and an excellent
value. I’ve used the Victory FL extensively, including on an African hunt.
The Conquest is very nearly as good, and at half the cost.

Generally, I wear a binocular on a short neck strap. Hunting mostly in northern regions of North America, I always wear at least a light jacket and sometimes an insulated parka. When it comes time to crawl or slither it’s easy to tuck the binocular in the jacket where it won’t drag on the ground or flash a signal to the game, and is safe from the elements.

I never cared much for binocular harnesses until I hunted in Africa, and found even a light jacket was often too much. We didn’t do much slithering (too many thorns) but lots of hands-and-knees crawling. To keep the binocular from flopping around I had to undo a couple of shirt buttons and stuff the binocular inside the shirt. I soon realized why hunters in warm climates, from Texas to Tanzania, like harness systems.

Rifleman 2

The Leupold Yosemite 8×30 is a porro prism design. Well made and
with sharp optics it is an exceptional value.

Using A Binocular

A binocular is useful even at close range in heavy cover. It lets you selectively focus at different distances, making it easier to pick out what you want to see—antlers, for example—from surrounding branches.

Using a binocular to locate game in big, open country is a skill. Above all it takes patience. A friend I sometimes hunt with has many fine hunting attributes. He’s fit, determined, persevering, a decent shot and “cheerful in all weathers.” But does he like to walk! He’ll reach the edge of a big valley, take one fast sweep with his binocular, announce there’s nothing there and charge off for the next valley.

I’d rather move slowly and take my time, often an hour or two just using binoculars. My buddy says I’m just lazy. I call it playing to my strengths.

Glassing from an observation point, I like to find a comfortable place to sit, preferably out of the wind and with some kind of cover to break up my outline. A big rock which can serve as cover and a rest to steady the binocular is convenient though not always available.

Start by taking a careful look around without the binocular. Once when I was young and innocent I spent half an hour studying distant antelope with a binocular, when a nearby movement caught my eye. At the base of the hill on which I was seated, an antelope was standing in plain view watching me with great interest, about 90 yards away. And yes, I did shoot him.

Have you ever watched a nature show where the camera pans across a scene? It’s hard to pick out details with the camera moving, isn’t it? So hold the binocular as motionless as you can while carefully studying every detail in the field of view.
When you’re sure you haven’t missed anything (you probably did, but it’s all part of learning) shift the binocular to another piece of real estate and repeat the process. With experience you’ll learn where animals are likely to be at different times of the day; when they are up and feeding, when and where they like to lie up while resting.

Rifleman 3

This Minox 8×33 is an outstanding hunting binocular, light and
compact, and with excellent optics.


Binoculars can be a lifetime investment, and provide a lifetime of enjoyment. They are an item which justify stretching the budget.

If money is no object just buy the most expensive models from names such as Leica, Minox, Nikon, Swarovski and Zeiss. But there are terrific binoculars available at every price level. We’re living in a golden age of optics. Never has your dollar bought more performance and value.

Two examples at different price points are the Zeiss Conquest HD and the Leupold Yosemite. I confess to getting a lot of my binocular input from birding forums. In fact I sometimes sit out in the yard with a binocular and watch birds. It’s more interesting than it sounds.

The Conquest HD is a fabulous binocular. In terms of resolution it provides at least 95 percent of the performance of the top-line Zeiss Victory model, and at half the price. It is built on an aluminum chassis for strength and durability, values prized by hunters. Currently retailing at around $1,000 it is not cheap, but for the performance it provides it is an exceptional value.
Birding forums also gave a high rating to the Leupold Yosemite 8×30 porro prism, especially impressive since it retails for around $100. I haven’t tried one other than to look through it at a store. It certainly seems solidly made and amazingly sharp. While I haven’t tested it thoroughly yet, it does provide excellent results at a very moderate price.
By Dave Anderson

1440 N.W. Greenbriar Pkwy.
Beaverton, OR 97006
(800) 538-7653

Minox USA
438 Willow Brook Rd.
Meriden, NH 03770
(866) 469-3080

13005 N. Kingston Ave
Chester, VA 23836
(800) 441-3005

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