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Spotting Scopes and the need for them

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Eric Welsh's picture
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I have trie using spotting scopes..even a $2500 Leica. I dont recomend them for glassing at all. the field of view is terrible. I use the Swarovski 15x56 binos ona tripod. I will never go back. Any pair of binos on a tripod is better than a spotter. A $200 pair of binos on a tripod is better than a $1000 par of binos w/out a tripod.

I would recomend getting a decent pair of binos (like the nikons) and getting a tripod adapter and tripod. Try not to go too cheap on the tripod...it needs to be sturdy and stable. It is so much more comfortable and you will be able to spend more time glassing and in turn, find more animal. just my 2 cents.

Eric

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Forest_Crawler's picture
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I agree. I haven't found a spotting scope I like more than my bino's. I have a great carbon fiber tripod so I'll have to look for a good adapter for the specs. Sounds like a great way to go.

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Eric Welsh's picture
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Bass pro has adapters in stock ranging from $10 - $30. I would spend the $30.

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dblcluckr1's picture
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cabelas has 20x binos that would be perfect for what your talkin about-they are part of their alaskan guide line that is usually good quality

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zslayer's picture
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Exactly what Eric said, A spotter is good to have to get a closer look at something or to count points but as far as glassing they are horrible.  If you don't want to break the bank you could go with Vortex it is good quality glass but not as expensive as Swarovski.   I use the Swarovski 15x56 and it is the best investment I have ever maid.

You don't want to buy cheep binos at high power because then you will get poor quality and it might get knocked out of alignment easy and all sorts of problems, just remember you get what you pay for and if you spend a little extra money you could get a great pair of binos that will last you a lifetime, just my opinion.

Eric Welsh's picture
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I have looked through the Cabelas 20x, they are pretty decent. Also, they are bulky....but would be great on a tripod.

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I do most of my glassing with my Zeiss Classic 10X40 glass just resting on my tripod spotting scope.  It's easy and my spotting scope is there to pick out the details when needed.  I picked up the Nikon Fieldscope ED with the 13 to 30 X 50 eye piece and I love it.  It is super light weight, great clarity and small enough to carry it with me everywhere I go. 

When picking this glass i considered first the quality, then size and weight and of course price.  I have no complaints so far and it is with me everywhere I go. 

Happy hunting!

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Zerohour714's picture
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I agree with Zslaeyer, I couldnt afford the swaro's and went for the vortex and it is sweet!  But like he said, its good to use once you have already spotted a deer and then want to see if you can make it legal, etc.  I don't think they are a necessity, but they are a fun toy!

rackman's picture
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 One thing that I have noticed with spotters, is if you do not have an angled one your neck gets sore really quick. I used a straight one on my LE Elk hunt this year. It was very difficult to watch an animal for any long period of time. I just invested in some swaro 10 x 50's and got the tripod adapter. I can not believe the difference, It is amazing how much more you see with both eyes.

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zslayer's picture
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rackman,

Good purchase you made there.

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I have Burris Fullfield II 8x42s that I got a deal on.  They work pretty well here in northern WI, but I don't spend even an hour behind them a day and usually am only looking at something about 1/4 mile away.  I don't know if it was the amount of time using them or the openness of the country, but when we were in AZ last week, I noticed they are a little blurry around the edges and I couldn't get them focused at long distances.  I did find a tripod adapter before we left and definitely liked glassing with both eyes better than one.  Binos on a tripod really let me look over a spot before moving on, even though I wasn't able to see as far as I would've liked.  My spotting scope isn't great either, came free with a rifle scope, and only goes to 24 power.   

I stopped at Bass Pro in Phoenix and looked through a couple brands.  I've been leaning Vortex and wanted to compare the Viper HD 15x50 to the Kaibabs 15x56.  They didn't have Vipers, but did have Swaro EL 12x50s...  and they are friggin nice.  We were able to focus on a house on a mountain (camelback?) maybe 10 miles away with both brands.  Although the swaros take the cake, I don't think there's going to be that much in my bino fund.  All the reviews I read about viper hds are positive, they are more compact than the kaibabs, and significantly cheaper than kaibab or swaro.  The salesman said he sold his kaibabs and bought vipers for the same reasons, also said they sell the viper hd 15x50s as fast as they come in.    

I don't like buying or carrying lots of gear, but I don't mind spending a little more on quality, especially if it's multipurpose.  When it comes to hunting, I'm more interested in makin' meat than making the record books.  Can I get by with better binos and no spotting scope?  Or, if you were to choose one piece of optics to upgrade first, what would it be?  Anybody have recommendations on brands/models/dealers?  I'm hoping rackman might jump in and get a shot at my business if he's still peddling glass.            

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Definately a good pair of binos and tripod. I have a good pair of 10x but could not pick anything out on a hillside unless I was within 1/2 mile. I went out with Zslayer and even after he found animals with his 15x56, I still could not make them out in my binos. Since then, I bought a used pair of 15x Swaro and a good tripod and am very happy that I did. I spook less game because I am walking the hills less and see much more. Any extra weight is worth it.

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Thanks, SMOKE.  That's kinda what I was thinking.  We walked a LOT in AZ last week and am sure we missed seeing deer as a result.  It was enjoyable and learned about the country, so all was not lost.  I think I was looking in the wrong places part of the time, too, but that's part of the learning process.  Definitely leaning toward better quality binos and more power.  I think my tripod will work for while yet.  I don't mind binos that weigh more than another pair if they'll do the job better, we're only talking ounces.  What I'd rather not do is carry (or buy)another 3-5lbs of spotting scope if I don't have to, although I might learn that I need one someday.  Truth is I'll always be pressed for time when I get to hunt out west and will probably try to pack out the first thing I see with antlers.  Vortex Viper HD 15x50s enough you think?  Hard to tell at the store without using them in the field.  I might have a chance to save a couple hundred bucks on vipers locally if I can get there before anyone else.        

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Anyone have experience with doublers?  I'm thinking a doubler might be a decent compromise between weight and price.  I haven't been able to try one out, the nearest dealer is about two hours away, don't know if they stock doublers and the 15x50s...

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Hornaholic's picture
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I have a Swaravski doubler that I have only used one time. I prefure a scope simply for the field of view and it also keeps my bino's free to use as bino's. I would sell it if anyone is interested. It is as good as new.

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Eric Welsh's picture
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Eric, I am interested in your doubler.

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   Both a spotting scope and a binocular have their place in your hunting gear but it must be realized that they are different instruments, with different uses. A binocular is ment for scouting, it is very easy on the eyes and has low magnafication and a very wide field of view. A spotting scope on the other hand is ment to be used after the object has already been spotted as it will pin point the detail on the object you are looking at. The limitations on a spotting scope are the limited field of view, poor light gathering due to a small exit pupil and the high levels of vibration due to the high levels of magnafication.

So to show how to use these two instruments properly it would be best to use an example:

You are out hunting elk and spot a small herd about a mile distant with you binoculars, however at that range you can not be sure if there is a good 6X6 bull. You then use your spotting scope to pinpoint the herd and see if there are any shootable bulls present. If ther are not any shootable bulls you can thank your spotting scope from saving you a hike.