Why Binoculars are Essential for Hunting
Even if you are armed with a hunting scope on your rifle, a good set of binoculars should be considered a must-have piece of gear. This article will help to bring the benefits of this optical equipment into focus as well as cover the features that you should look for.
The Benefits of Using Binoculars While Hunting
Locating Potential Targets
Is that a boulder in the distance, or a deer? It is important that you properly identify a potential target before taking a shot. A rifle scope can aid with this but using your scope to glass an area can be cumbersome as well as dangerous. Using a set of good hunting binoculars will aid you in properly identifying or locating a target, especially in low-light situations.
Helping to Eliminate Potential Risks
Once a target is identified and located, it is important to be aware of the surrounding area before a shot is taken. Glassing the location beforehand can help to eliminate potential hazards, including other people wandering behind or near the game animal. The importance of this awareness can be seen in this report on Texas between 2011-2015, where 52 hunting incidents involving errors in judgment could have been avoided through glassing with binoculars.
Long Range And Terrain Scouting
It can be frustrating to stumble upon an unseen buck and ruin the element of surprise. A great set of hunting binoculars allows you to scout an area in detail before you move into it. Even a decent pair of binoculars will often provide greater magnification than a rifle scope can provide. They will also provide a wider field of vision at higher magnification as well.
Your hunting binoculars can be used to observe the terrain ahead as well. This can provide critical information about potential obstacles long before you stumble into them. That will also include unwanted encounters with large predators that may also be out hunting or wandering. A wise hunter will use binoculars to hunt smarter, not harder.
Uses Outside of Hunting
Unlike some hunting gear, the best hunting binoculars can be used for other activities that do not involve stalking your next kill. Contrary to popular beliefs, hunters enjoy the great outdoors for more than just hunting. Observing animals at a distance allows us to enjoy their behaviors without alerting them to our presence. Landscapes can be admired in more detail as well (including the sky at night!).
How Hunting Binoculars Work
Binocular Lenses and Prisms
A pair of hunting binoculars is basically two telescopes mounted side-by-side to one another. They are small enough to be held by hand and employ the following components to provide the image that you see:
Each side of the binoculars is made up from similar sized tubes, or optics housing. These provide the structure that holds the optical components in place as well as providing various degrees of protection. A good set of hunting binoculars will be designed to prevent extra light from entering this housing from any other points than the objective lenses.
Each side of the binoculars is connected by an adjustable hinge mechanism. A well-made pair of binoculars will provide movement at the joint without slipping during use. This is also the location where the focusing screw mechanism will be mounted.
Some binocular designs focus the eyepiece independently from a focusing screw. With this type of build, the eyepiece is turned clockwise or counter-clockwise to bring an object into focus. A perfect hunting binocular set-up will include markings on the focusing screw or eyepiece to provide the degree of magnification.
Addressing Possible Issues With Hunting Binoculars
While hunting binoculars should be considered essential gear, there are some things you will want to keep in mind when looking to make a purchase.
Weight: can become an issue when searching for your target or packing equipment to a remote blind. You will want to balance item weight with your hunting preferences. A pair of perfect hunting binoculars will provide magnified images at range while not wearing you out during your hike across the variety of terrain your target frequents.
Size: is important to consider when selecting a pair of hunting binoculars. A small set may be easy to pack and use but will often provide a weaker magnification power. Conversely, larger binoculars may prove bulky when crawling around or awkward to use quickly.
Eye Relief: is the distance between the eyepiece and your eye where an image comes into focus. This also marks the distance that the binoculars can be held away from the eye while allowing you to see the field of view in the eyepiece. A greater distance will prove beneficial for those using their equipment for quick observations as well as hunters with corrective lenses.
Interpupillary Distance: is the measurement of the distance between your eyes. A good set of binoculars adjust at the hinge between 60 to 72 mm for an average sized adult. For petite or younger hunters, a compact set may prove to be the perfect hunting binoculars for their shorter interpupillary distance.
Here are some great tips for using binoculars.
Magnification and Aperture
You may have noticed that a set of binoculars is rating with two numbers separated by an "x." These numbers can provide you with general information that lets you know what to expect from a product.
The number before the "x" indicates the magnification power the binoculars offer. For example, a 5x power produces an image that is five times larger than that observed with the naked eye. Keep in mind that larger images may come at the expense of a more limited view of the surrounding terrain.
The second number in the formula indicates the diameter of the objective lenses employed on the binoculars. For example, a pair of 7x50 rated binoculars uses objective lenses that are 50mm in diameter. Most users consider the aperture more important, as larger objective lenses can gather additional light.
This is a number that is calculated by dividing the objective lens diameter by the magnification power. The exit pupil indicates the diameter of the beam of light that leaves the eyepiece. Younger eyes benefit from an exit pupil of approximately 7 mm, while older eyes dilate less and can use smaller exit pupils.
Field of View
This rating measures the width of vision provided for an image through the binoculars. A field of view is measured in one of two ways:
Linear: rating measures the width in feet at 1,000 yards. Most binoculars will be rated between 260 and 520 feet.
Degree: rating measures the field of view in degrees. These ratings can range from 5 to 10 degrees.
A wider field of view can provide more information about the terrain surrounding the potential target and may be easier to use for locating a position at greater distances.
Other Features to Consider
Understanding how your optics work, as well as product ratings, allows you to get the most from your binoculars. Selecting a set based on the type of hunting you do and the typical conditions you hunt in will allow you to find the perfect hunting binoculars!