spotting scope

How to Choose a Spotting Scope for Hunting

Hunting season as a whole can be a challenge. Any experienced hunter can tell you that your success depends entirely on preparation. Part of that preparation, and maybe most important, is scouting. Having the proper spotting scope for hunting in your conditions and terrain is vital.

In this article, we will talk about spotting scopes, why they are essential, and how they can help you make a kill shot this hunting season.

What are spotting scopes?

Spotting scopes, also called monocular scopes, are smaller-sized telescopes designed for long-range observation. Hunters use High-power spotting scopes to spot and track certain game animals such as deer, elk, moose, or caribou.

Imagine a pair of binoculars with only one lens, built to see further and with better definition.

Spotting scopes are just another tool in the hunters’ toolbox to aid in, find, and ultimately shoot the game. You don’t necessarily need a high-end optic – there are cheaper, more affordable spotting scopes that do a great job.

When should you use a spotting scope?

Typically, hunters use spotting scopes when stalking animals or scouting. Using spotting scopes as a tool to determine the species, size, sex, and general habits of an animal will ultimately lead to better success. Other applications for spotting scopes include astrology, bird watching, target shooting, or even surveillance.

What is the point of a spotting scope?

Spotting scopes have a better magnification than most binoculars. Hunting binoculars generally have a high-end magnification range of 50X. Spotting scopes can have much higher magnification with a larger objective lens. The larger the objective lens is will allow more detail for the viewer. Another factor that allows for more detail is the glass quality. A large lens with poor glass will produce bad images no matter what.

What fits your needs better, spotting scopes or binoculars? After reading this article, you may want to consider our in-depth binoculars buying guide, outlining every feature and consideration needed when selecting a pair of binos.

Features Of A Spotting Scope

If you’re planning on getting a spotting scope and you’re not quite sure which one to choose, here are some helpful features to consider.

Spotting Scope Features

  • Compact
  • Light Weight
  • Magnification
  • Clarity
  • Depth/Range Finder
  • Weather Proof
  • Lighting Features
  • Price
  • Durability
  • Functionality

For general hunting purposes, most people find that a spotting scope with moderate magnification is ideal. It’s better to have more magnification than not enough. Don’t buy a spotting scope that won’t allow you to stock your animal adequately. The idea is to stay at a distance until you’re ready to engage the animal.

Compactness and weight are less important than the other features mentioned above. Unless you’re stalking animals for long distances, like elk hunting, for example, size and compactness are less relevant. On the other hand, if you are pursuing animals on long stalks, having a spotting scope that is smaller, lighter, and compact will prove valuable.

The cost of spotting scopes and optics varies greatly. Typically the cost will dictate what optics you buy over any other variable. The lower end of the price range offers spotting scopes that are reasonably accurate but without the clarity or compactness of their pricier counterparts.

spotting scope for hunting

Weather-resistant spotting scopes are extremely valuable when getting into that late California deer season, where rain and sometimes snow are a real possibility. Keep in mind that most spotting scopes say they are weatherproof, but this is not always the case. The o-rings used in cheaper units can dry out or simply go wrong, leaving your investment vulnerable.

Considerations when Buying Spotting Scopes

With so many brands, sizes, and styles available, it’s sometimes hard to decide to invest in your hunting gear. Below are some key features to consider when buying a spotting scope for hunting.

  1. Larger Objective Lens – A larger objective lens allows more light to enter the monocular scope increasing visibility in low light conditions and brightness of detail. Larger lens spotting scopes are preferred among hunters for these reasons.
  1. High-Quality Glass – The glass on your spotting scope should be high definition. Especially with the larger objective lenses, HD glass is critical. When light enters the glass, it bends and will create colors similar to a rainbow with cheap glass. HD glass will prevent this effect and allow the true colors of your target to show through.
  1. EyePiece – The eyepiece is where the objective magnification happens in a spotting scope. A good spotting scope will have an adjustable eyepiece. Adjusting the eyepiece allows the user to zoom in or out while operating the monocular scope. High-end field spotting scopes will have a 20x-60x adjustable eyepiece allowing medium to long-range spotting.
  1. Eyepiece Angle – The eyepiece angle is a comfort feature, and different hunters will prefer one over the other. An angled eyepiece allows hunters to scan the distance a little easier than a straight eyepiece in our experience.
  1. Tripod Mount – Having the ability to add a tripod mount to your spotting scope is invaluable. While not always convenient to carry, tripods allow users to rest the spotting scope on a stable platform. Mounts create a still view through the spotting scope as well as free up your hands.

When deciding what spotting scope for hunting to purchase, you can do a few things to ensure you are happy with your decision. The first thing is to do what you are doing right now, research. The second is to go in person to a local sporting goods store and hold a few of these to your eye. You will notice a significant difference from low to high-end spotting scopes.

When you think you may have found your spotting scope, I always recommend shopping online. Not only will you find better deals online, but the return process is haggle-free and easy if you change your mind once you receive your spotting scope. 

Final Thoughts – Spotting Scope for Hunting

Spotting scopes are a precious tool for hunting, shooting, and outdoor enthusiasts. It’s important to consider everything mentioned above before spending your hard-earned money on such an important tool. If you have any questions that we did not answer above, please reach out via our contact us page.