Ask a hundred hunters if they own a bino and about ninety nine will say “Yes.” Almost every hunter owns a pair, but does every hunter use them?
The technical stuff—power, field of view, objective diameter, exit pupil, prisms, coatings, brightness—is all aimed at the hunter who is considering a purchase. But let’s set aside all the jargon because none of it matters if you don’t use them. Instead, let’s consider four reasons you should use a binocular every time you step into the deer woods.
1. A Binocular slows you down.
The truth is most of us move too fast when we’re in the woods. That old Simon & Garfunkel tune, “Slow down, you move too fast,” should be the theme song for hunters. If “feelin’ groovy” means tuning in to your environment and getting into “the zone,” you can do that only when you’re moving slowly. Slow is how you don’t miss things. Slow is one way to keep the game animal you’re pursuing from being aware of your presence.
“But,” you say, “binoculars are cumbersome!” I reply, “Good. That slows you down.” Don’t stuff it into a pocket inside your pack and forget about it. Put your bino where you’re aware of it. Get a harness that shifts the weight from your neck to your shoulders. Keep it ready or you’ll never use it.
2. A Binocular makes you a better observer.
Suppose you’re on a stand. As the sun treks from the eastern to the western horizon, the changing light alters the way things look. Shadows grow larger, stronger, or softer. You see a deery-looking thing you didn’t see earlier and can’t identify it. This UDO (Unidentified Deery Object) doesn’t move, but maybe that’s because it froze when it saw you first.
Very slowly lift your bino and get a good eyeful of details so you can shift into kill mode if it’s the real deal, or dismiss that UDO, if it’s nothing more than a stump. Then you can go back to picking apart the landscape looking for that buck. When a new detail with big brown eyes shows up, you’re more likely to notice it before it puts those eyes on you.
3. A Binocular keeps temptation at bay.
I’m sure no one reading this would ever do make this mistake, but maybe it has happened to you. You notice another guy a pretty good distance away looking through his rifle scope. Is he looking at you?
You ease over behind a tree and peek around to see him. You wave your fluorescent orange hat.
He puts the gun down. Yes, occasionally there’s that guy who is a little too confident and a little too stupid at the same time. Don’t be that guy.
4. A Binocular will get you more game.
A bino does much more than bring the world up close. It also keeps you alert. The more you use it, the more attention you’ll pay to your surroundings. That’s guaranteed to get you more deer. Now do I have your attention?
A pro photographer once told me, “The secret to taking good pictures is this: force yourself to take lots of pictures — the odds are that a few of them will be pretty good.” Something similar is true about binos. The secret to binos working for you is to force yourself to use them — a lot.
None of this is meant to imply that the technical details are unimportant. If you’re thinking of buying a good bino and want to make an intelligent buying decision, you should definitely bone up on the technical stuff. But if you already have a binocular, don’t wait until you get a better pair. Just start glassing.
When “The Everyday Hunter” isn’t hunting, he’s thinking about hunting, talking about hunting, dreaming about hunting, writing about hunting, or wishing he were hunting. If you want to tell Steve exactly where your favorite hunting spot is, contact him through his website, www.EverydayHunter.com. He writes for top outdoor magazines, and won the 2015 and 2018 national “Pinnacle Award” for outdoor writing.