You can’t harvest the trophy big game animals that you can’t see. Period. It’s not going to happen.
You must be able to efficiently glass up and locate Big Game quickly and at extremely long distances if you plan on being a successful trophy big game hunter in the wide open spaces of the American West.
I think that most of us big game hunters can remember getting started in hunting using optics that were extremely ”humble” to say the least. Also, using high quality optics tripods for your binoculars was virtually unheard of not too many years ago.
I can vividly remember receiving my first pair of cheap 10 power binoculars that I proudly dangled from my neck with their stiff and squeaky vinyl strap. A pain in the neck was an absolute certainty after a full day of use of these binoculars along with prolonged spells of dizziness and bouts of blurred vision caused by squinting through them all day trying to get a clear view.
Rain, fog, or any kind of moisture would cause most low priced binoculars to fog up immediately and effectively ended any attempts at glassing or lcating any kind of big game. After you binoculars would fog, wiping the lenses clean with a denim shirt or jacket was the norm. Looking back I almost wonder if some optics weren’t designed by optometrists looking to cash in on all of the damaged eyes that trophy hunters had caused by squinting and staining through inferior optics designs.
Remember the binocular company that was producing the “Self Adjusting” binoculars? Holy smokes, the vertigo is only now starting to go away after trying to glass with a pair of those ghastly binoculars many years ago.
What never ceases to amaze me though is that a vast majority of Big Game hunters are still very proudly and arrogantly using outdated optics today.
Many big game hunters today will proudly spend loads and loads of money on brand new quads, dozens of game cameras, giant lifted diesel trucks with hunting stickers, winches and all the bells and whistles, brand new camp trailers, brand new camouflage clothing, new bows, fancy rifles, side by side utility vehicles with loud blaring sound systems, but will balk at spending any kind of money on top quality hunting binoculars, optics, and tripods for glassing. WHY?
You are effectively handicapping and severely limiting your trophy hunting success by not using the finest optics, tripods, and binoculars that money can buy. There are two areas that serious trophy hunters should never, ever, scrimp on when it comes to spending money on hunting equipment: Optics and boots. You can’t kill it if you can’t see it and you can’t kill it if your feet won’t take you over there.
Thanks to huge improvements by binocular companies, we now have optics that are designed specifically for trophy big game hunting and are truly world class long range glassing instruments. Sure, they might be pricey but when you really look at what your investment will bring you (a few more giant big game animals on the wall) the choice to spend the extra money on a world class pair of hunting binoculars is easy.
Today’s world class hunting optics, coupled with a sturdy high quality tripod, have opened up a whole new world to trophy big game hunters and have drastically improved our results out in the field. Upon using my first pair of high quality 15 x 56 Swarovski Binocualrs coupled with a sturdy Bogen tripod I felt as if someone had removed a blindfold from my eyes and I could finally see the world.
The results that I immediately experienced in using this new optics system on our trophy hunts were absolutely astounding. I could now glass all day long without a hint of headache or eye fatigue. Gone was the blurriness at the edges of the lenses. No more straining and shaking when trying to view big game through binoculars. When big game was spotted I could now make very accurate field judging estimates due to the stability provided by the tripod and the clarity of the incredibly fine glass.
Adding a top quality spotting scope to my optics arsenal took it even one step further. Scrambling over ridges and risking spooked game to get a closer look at Big Game was rarely an issue anymore when looking through a Zeiss 20 x 60 power by 85mm objective spotting scope with perfect razor sharp clarity. Locating and evaluating trophy Big Game at long ranges was now very enjoyable and very efficient.
I use a 3 step or 3 pronged approach to my glassing when I am guiding hunters on trophy big game hunts. Let’s take a look at my 3 step glassing approach and my personal battery of Big Game Hunting optics, binoculars, tripods and why I choose them.
My personal choice for the best hunting binoculars in the world is Swarovski. I have tried products from every optics company under the sun and Swarovski optics still remain number one on my list for the best hunting binoculars. Their sleek, lightweight design, extreme clarity, light gathering capabilities in extreme low light, and their extreme toughness and durability is what make them my favorite hunting binoculars.
I have used Swarovski binoculars in the absolute worst of hunting conditions and I have yet to encounter any type of problems whatsoever with them. From freezing rain and snow, to blowing sand and 115 degree heat, these fantastic optics have continued to perform flawlessly for me on all of the trophy hunts that I have used them on over the years. The model that I use for my “handheld” pair is the 8 x 30 Swarovski SLC binoculars. I couple this pair of Swarovski binoculars with a Crooked Horn Bino Harness system which keeps the binoculars firmly against my chest without any of the neck pain and swinging around associated with neck straps.
The 8 power Swarovski binoculars allow me to hand hold them much steadier than 10 power binoculars or 12 power binoculars yet they still offer me a great field of view. My 8 power Swarovski Binoculars are the first step in my glassing approach and are used to initially sweep and look over an area that I intend to glass before setting up the big optics on the tripod to really dissect and take apart my intended glassing area. I never hike up to a glassing location on our trophy hunts and sit down before thoroughly covering the area with the Swarovski 8 x 30 binoculars first. After glassing the area with my handheld binocluars I will set up for my second step to slowly take the area apart with my tripod and Swarovski 15×56 Binoculars.
For my tripod mounted pair of hunting binoculars I rely on the Swarovski 15 x 56 SLC binoculars. The big 15 power binoculars have an amazing field of view, razor sharp clarity from edge to edge, and are packaged up in a sleek lightweight design that allows you to pack them anywhere without being too cumbersome while out hunting trophy big game. I attach these 15 power Swarovski binoculars to a Bogen 3001 BD Tripod with a Bogen 3130 fluid pan head attachment. This particular tripod is heavier to pack than some other tripod models but the extra weight pays off immensely by adding stability when glassing for trophy big game in windy conditions. The 3130 fluid pan head on this Bogen Tripod is as smooth as silk and allows for slow and precise movements when glassing for the biggest trophy big game animals in the Western US. This setup is my bread and butter system for all of my trophy hunts and is far and away the finest combination of binoculars and tripod that I have ever used while guiding hunters in the field. I use this binocular and tripod setup to locate 90% or more of the trophy big game game we harvest on our trophy western big game hunts.
I really can’t say enough about this system and I always get a big grin when my clients ask to look through my tripod mounted Swarovski binoculars. The response is always the same: “Holy $#+!, these things are awesome, no wonder you’re spotting all of ’em. I gotta get me a pair of these….”
On to spotting scopes and the third step in my Big Game glassing approach. Now as much as I am a dyed in the wool Swarovski Binocular junky you may be surprised to find out that Swarovski is not my top choice for the best spotting scopes for hunting.
That’s right, as you may be able to tell from the photo on the left, Zeiss is my number one choice of optics when it comes to the best spotting scopes for big game hunting. Why? After glassing with all the top spotting scope brands Zeiss scopes have far and away the biggest field of view of any brand of spotting scopes for hunting that I have tried to date.
It can be extremely difficult to locate big game through a spotting scope and the bigger the field of view, the faster that you will acquire your intended target. Zeiss spotting scopes really stand out from the competition in this area and also have the razor sharp clarity and durability that my guides and I demand in our hunting optics. My spotting scope model of choice is the Zeiss 20 x 60 power Diascope 85 T* FL. I also mount this Zeiss spotting scope on my previously mentioned Bogen tripod setup.
Now, I don’t ever use a spotting scope to locate or find Big Game. My spotting scope only comes out as my third step after I have spotted something that is a bit out of reach of my tripod mounted Swarovski binoculars and needs a closer look. I also rely on my spotting scope to make careful and detailed evaluations of what trophy game will score. My Zeiss spotting scope really allows me to see trophy detail up close and allows you to field judge game at long distances without any fear of getting too close to big game and spooking anything. The farther you can stay away from trophy big game when scouting, the better.
You can really improve your trophy hunting success this fall by wisely using all of the incredible optics, binoculars, and tripods that we have at our disposal today. The odds of bagging a world class trophy big game animal are always slim at best and everything we can do to tip the odds in our favor can lead to you eventually harvesting the buck or bull of your dreams.
Spare no expense when it comes to optics and binoculars for hunting. The clarity and light gathering capabilities of world class optics such as Swarovski and Zeiss can add an extra 30 minutes of visibility to your day in low light conditions during the early morning and late evening periods when most trophy big game animals are moving. This low light visibility difference is going to improve your trophy hunting success this year by leaps and bounds.
Remember, you can’t harvest the trophy big game animals that you can’t see……….
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