Guide to Optics Magnification for Hunting Situations
How much do you think about your hunting optics for big game species? Some people assume that because they hunt a certain species, geography, terrain, or even style of hunting, those optics aren’t useful for them. But considering the broad range of optics magnification available on the market today, you can absolutely find something that will help you while hunting in nearly any situation. From confirming you have the right animal to looking for good landmarks to navigate to while glassing, there’s a lot to be said about the benefits of good hunting optics. Below, we discuss some common hunting situations and how relevant optics and magnification are for each one.
Hunting Scenarios and Optics Magnification Guidelines
Depending on where, what, when, and even how you hunt, the absolute need for hunting optics will vary. But they can be very useful for nearly any style. Here are a few for you to consider.
Ask almost any western hunter how important optics are to their hunting success, and you’ll likely get the same answer. It doesn’t matter if you’re pursuing elk, mule deer, or pronghorn antelope, optics magnification matters a great deal to western hunters. When you face wide open sagebrush flats or long distances to the next ridgeline, having a quality set of optics (i.e., the best spotting scope, pair of binoculars, and rifle scopes) should be one of your top priorities. Spotting scopes are great for glassing long distances and initially finding game animals from a stationary point. Binoculars are better for when you’re on the move and getting closer to an animal (e.g., confirming you found the same bull that you picked out while glassing).
- Spotting Scopes – look for a spotting scope magnification of 20-60X zoom and an objective lens of 60 to 80mm to cover great distances in low light situations.
- Binoculars – since you will usually be closer to an animal when using binoculars, a set of 10x42 binoculars (10X zoom and 42mm objective lens for good light entry) is usually powerful enough.
Midwest Farm Country
Scouting for whitetails in Midwest farm country is a bit different. You won’t be looking at the same extreme distances or need the absolute best scope magnification, but it’s still important nonetheless. Soybean or alfalfa fields are great magnets for bachelor groups of bucks during the summer, meaning you can set up on a roadside or from an inconspicuous spot on a field edge to glass the fields towards evening. This gives you an advantage for the hunting season. Depending on the field you’re scouting, a spotting scope or binocular might work for this purpose. When you’re actually hunting, however, binoculars work best in a tree stand to maneuver quickly. Keep a pair handy to scan the fields around you and wait for your hit list buck to come into range.
- Spotting Scopes – for these hunts, look for an optics magnification of 15-45X and an objective lens of 60 to 80mm to see well at shorter distances in very low light scenarios (i.e., dusk).
- Binoculars – a set of 8x32 or 10x42 binoculars would both work for this hunting situation. Whether from a tree stand or while stalking closer to a bedded whitetail, you will need a good binocular to help you.
Big Woods Bucks
Where the topic of optics gets a little murky is while hunting in thick, big woods areas (e.g., northern Great Lakes states, the Northeast, etc.). In many cases, you might not get to see an animal until they are only 50 yards away, making the optics magnification issue a non-issue really. After all, the best optic for 100 yards is far different from the best spotting scope for 1,000 yards. Generally, you don’t have much time to make a decision on whether to take a shot or not when an animal is already at 50 yards. But having a small binocular around your neck makes it easy to sneakily take a glance before committing to a shot.
- Spotting Scopes – typically, spotting scopes have limited value for big woods scenarios. You generally cannot see far enough through the thick forest vegetation to really utilize their downrange capabilities.
- Binoculars – the best binocular magnification for this kind of a hunt is a set of 8x32 binoculars. It allows you to clearly see your target without being so powerful that you can’t find your target.
How to Pick Hunting Optics
Picking a spotting scope or binocular seems like a daunting task these days. There are many different options available for both kinds, so how do you know you’re getting the right one? Start with the advice above for specific optics magnifications and different styles of hunting. You should also consider the quality of and coatings on the glass lenses, the durability of the body itself, and how weatherproof or lightweight they are. Here are some great options for several hunting styles to suit your optics magnification level of preference. They all come with a lifetime warranty so you know your investment will be protected.
The Endeavor XF 80A 20-60X Vanguard spotting scope is a top-of-the-line model for when you most need reliable, high-quality optics. Its wide objective lens lets in ample light for clearer pictures, while its 60x zoom lets you see 1,000 yards with ease. The 60x zoom is a great elk hunting spotting scope magnification, for example. Plus, its rubber-armored magnesium body is super durable and waterproof.
The Endeavor HD 65A 15-x45X spotting scope is a slight step down in optics magnification from the one above. But with a 45X zoom, it is plenty powerful enough for extreme clarity at mid-distance ranges (a few hundred yards) and still offers high-quality images.
The Endeavor ED 10x42 binocular is offered in a Realtree EDGE™ camouflage pattern, perfect for many hunting scenarios. It is waterproof, fogproof, and super durable to allow you to use it in numerous harsh field conditions. Additionally, it offers multiple adjustments (e.g., focus, diopter, eye relief, etc.) to make it a personalized tool for you.
The Endeavor ED II 8x32 binocular features great multi-coated lenses with extra-low dispersion (ED) glass, yet the reduced binocular magnification (8x zoom) is better suited for shorter distances. It too is super durable, waterproof, and adjustable.
If optics for hunting has never really been a priority for you because you didn’t think you would use them, you might need to reconsider. Regardless of what big game species or environment you hunt, there is a good optics magnification for your situation.