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Successful Hunter|March - April 2020
Binocular Lessons
Lee J. Hoots

There are some essential tools every public land hunter needs to be successful, but the newest clothing, most accurate rifle/ cartridge, biggest pickup, trick broadheads and fletching or global positing system unit can’t hold a candle to good binoculars. Two recent events served as reminders that a hunter can’t shoot a buck or bull if he can’t find one, and for that, binoculars can be the critical element.

First, and perhaps most significant if not inspiring, was this magazine’s art director Chris Downs finding a bighorn ram just over three miles away while using my Outdoorsmans (outdoorsmans.com) tripod-mounted Swarovski SLC 15x 56mm WB binocular. His father-in-law had a sheep hunting client in camp who hung his tag on that old trophy ram later that same day.

Prior to that, in October my youngest son and I spent a few days on public ground looking for a buck mule deer during a hunt that was abbreviated due to magazine deadlines and the young man’s high school obligations. We saw just a few mule deer does and a couple of young bucks, one of which was spotted napping a quarter of a mile away, using the previously mentioned tripod-mounted binocular. We tried to stalk closer with no luck. That 3x2 buck crept out of its afternoon bed and wandered off to nowhere. Then time ran out with the setting sun.

We were somewhat lucky just to find that deer because we were hunting in an Arizona game management unit that attracts quite a few hunters during different times in the fall, and one rifle hunt had already taken place. Pile onto that the fact that the unit is well-known for decent quail hunting (even dove shooting), and it’s not hard to understand why more pickups and sport utility vehicles than deer were spotted. We may never have seen any bucks without the use of top-quality optics – a lesson learned long ago.

As a teenager, I started intensely hunting deer with a bow in the mountains in California just after purchasing a little five-speed pickup. It didn’t take long to become frustrated with inexpensive binoculars. They fogged up, their hinges quickly became sloppy and diopter adjustments got out of whack for no apparent reason. Fed up, I eventually splurged on something “new” and comparatively expensive after saving for weeks. The guy hawking the binoculars said they were made in Europe by a company called “Suevor-ski.”

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