Back in the 1970s, an uncle once told me that one of the most useful things any big-game hunter could own was a binocular in the 15×60 range. He said he never went elk hunting without one, and because I always did everything he said, I rushed right out and bought a Zeiss porro prism glass in 15×60 and it was exactly as he said, a highly specialized but invaluable tool if the circumstances were right. Of course, like a jerk, I sold them some years later, but recently I traded a lot of stuff and coughed up some cash and got another big glass in the same power range.
What a major binocular will do is let you see when it is very dark, and let you see in detail at long range, or in great detail at medium range. On my recent trip to Kansas, the hunter who shared the blind with me had a 10×40 binocular of the first caliber, and I had a 15×60. In practical terms, what it would do was this:
At last light, when it was too dark to shoot, if we could see a deer I could tell if it was a buck or a doe. Fifteen minutes earlier, when he could see if it was a buck or a doe I could see if it was a big buck or a little buck. Fifteen minutes before that, if he could see whether it was a big buck or a little buck, I could count the points and evaluate the rack in excruciating detail.
In some cases, a spotting scope is better. If you’re glassing miles of country, there is nothing that can take the place of 40X. However, at the intermediate ranges, say, 300 to 1,000 yards, a big binocular lets you spot things faster, lets you use both eyes, and is a lot smaller and lighter than most spotting scopes. They’re not cheap, but under the right conditions, big glasses are more than worth it.
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