Training: the action of undertaking a course of exercise and diet in preparation for a sporting event.
The trend of training your body for the grueling demands of hunting season has been brought to the forefront of the hunting community in recent years, and for good reason. Being physically capable of climbing the mountains to fill your tag every year can make or break a hunting season. Lifting a couple weights in the off season or hiking mountains on the weekends is a great way to prepare your lungs and muscle for the fatigue experienced on a hunt. There is one skill however that most hunters don’t practice enough before going afield, seeing game.
Anyone that has been on a safari in Africa will tell stories of the trackers spotting game from a moving vehicle 200 yards off the road. Those guys spend their life in the field looking for animals, and that gives them the ability to see the difference between a tree leaf and kudu ear from outrageous distances. Your game eyes may never be as good as theirs but, you can train yours to be better!
Training your eyes to find more game isn’t as easy as just going out and scouting before the start of your hunting season. Our years of living in big cities and under fluorescent lighting have changed the way our eyes see things. So the only true way to train your game eyes is too spend more time in the field away from the bright retina damaging lights.
Spotting game just like any other skill can be honed with practice over time. The more time you spend in the woods, the quicker you will be able to distinguish between an antler tip or a low hanging twig when glassing for deer. This year while you are hiking those hills in the spring and summer bring your glass and tripod, to train your Game Eyes. I like to take a few hunting buddies out with me and make a day of glassing into small side competitions. First one to see game buys lunch, or first one to see antlers gets a dollar. Making it a true competition will give you added motivation even though a punched tag is not the end goal.
This year remember there is no off season in hunting, just certain times of the year where a successful hunt is just watching your quarry through binoculars instead of a rifle scope.
The guys at Outdoorsmans get asked a variety of optics questions from week to week. Over the years, there are a few questions they get asked repeatedly. People are constantly asking if the 15X optics are worth the weight and investment. “15X optics aren’t for everybody, but they do have their place. Most of the people who buy a 15X binoculars are either guides or outfitters who really want an up close look at what they are watching in the field. That said, more hardcore hunters who don’t make a living guiding are purchasing 15X binoculars because many hunters are looking for that piece of equipment that can give them an edge in the field,” Cody Nelson from Outdoorsmans, explained.
One of the greatest reasons hunters purchase 15X binoculars is because it allows the hunter to cover more ground efficiently. “With a 15x50 or 15x56, a hunter can zoom in and take a good look at a mountain side and see a large area because of the large field of view most 15X optics provide. These binoculars weigh a bit more than a 10X binocular, but most hunters believe having them in a pack is worth the extra weight,” Nelson added.
Most of us are trying to save time whether we are at work or hunting. Using a 15X can save time. “With a 15X, whatever a hunter is looking at is 50% closer than if they were using 10X binoculars. When you think of it that way, most people have that ah-ha moment. Fifty percent is a lot. If a person is good at glassing, they will often find more game with 15X binocular than they will with a 10X. A person can see more detail with a 15X,” Nelson noted.
The first time Nelson shows a customer a pair of 15X binoculars, their response is often the same. “They always say wow, especially if they have spent their life looking through a 10x42 binocular. A 15X provides power and clarity that is amazing. Once a person experiences them, they buy them and never look back,” Nelson said.
A 15X provides power and clarity and are good in low light conditions, which makes them even more user friendly. “We all spend time glassing in low light conditions because that is when animals move the most. A 15X gathers a lot of light so when I am looking for a big bull at last light on a distant mountainside, I often grab my 15X binoculars,” Nelson explained.
A 15X brings objects up close and personal, so guides love them. “Many guides have customers who are looking for a certain size buck or bull. With a 15X, a hunter can look closely at an animal and spend some time scoring the animal from a distance. This can save time because the last thing a hunter wants to do is spend half a day trying to get close to an animal, only to discover it wasn’t exactly what they were looking for. With 15X binoculars, hunters can be fairly confident of what they are looking before even starting the stalk,” Nelson said.
A pair of 15X binoculars isn’t a spotting scope, but according to Nelson, some hunters leave the spotting scope at home when hunting. “A 15X doesn’t bring an animal up as close as a spotting scope, but the image is so bright and clear some hunters who spend countless hours glassing prefer 15X binoculars. Obviously one way a person can cut backpack weight is by leaving a spotter at home and packing the 15X binoculars. It is a great option in some cases.”
If 15X binoculars sound like something you might like, Nelson suggests purchasing a tripod. “Putting a 15X binocular on a tripod makes glassing more enjoyable. They can be hard to hold steady free hand and when a person is glassing for long periods, it is always best to use a tripod anyway. 15's mounted on a tripod will find more game, guaranteed!"
Christmas is coming. There are plenty of reasons in the above article to have a new pair of 15X binoculars on your list.
Some hunters may tell you that the only way to kill a big bull is to spend a lot of money. That is not true. There is still one way an average Joe can harvest a big bull, which is drawing a tag in a trophy unit. Yes, drawing a tag in a great unit can take years, but more often than not, it is worth the wait. Cody Nelson from the Outdoorsmans is willing to wait for a good tag. “Drawing a great archery tag in Arizona can take years, even though I am a resident. Because it can take a long time to draw a tag in some of the more coveted units, some hunters simply don’t bother putting in for tags which is a big mistake. Over the last decade, I have drawn a couple great tags that were worth the wait,” Nelson explained.
This year Nelson drew a great tag and spent almost ten days looking for the right bull. “We spent a lot of time glassing and looking for the right bull. When you wait a long time for a tag, the last thing you want to do is shoot the first decent bull you see. I was willing to put my time in and hunt hard. Being willing to stick it out to the bitter end has been one of the keys to my success over the years. Even when I have a great tag, I am still hunting on public land and finding the right bull can require lots of time,” Nelson added.
On the ninth day of the hunt, Nelson spotted a nice bull that he estimated scored close to 360 or larger. “I spent a fair amount of time watching that bull in the evening. The bull ended up fighting a smaller bull. What was amazing to watch was the smaller bull broke the main beam off the 360 bull in two places while I watched them fight,” Nelson said. As the evening progressed, Nelson watched the bulls and was hoping he could find him again in the morning. “I was using the new Swarovski 8X42 EL Range binoculars and was amazed at how well I could see in low light conditions. I continued watching the bulls late into the evening. I figured if I could locate the bigger bull in the morning, I would try to get a shot and go recover his broken tine after I shot him.”
The plan changed slightly the next morning when the old bull who had broke the tine off the 360 bull came within bow range. “This old bull had an enormous amount of mass and a large body. It was clear after looking at him that he was an old bull so I decided to shoot him. He didn’t go very far after the shot. I use Wac ‘Em Broadheads. I am amazed at how quickly they bring down big bulls. He is a 7x6 that scored nearly 330 inches and was a massive bull. It was amazing watching the bulls fight the day before. It’s a hunt I will never forget,” Nelson exclaimed.
This hunt is proof that waiting on a good tag and working hard to find a good bull can pay off. If you don’t play the tag drawing game like Nelson, you probably should. It is still the best way to put a monster buck or bull on the wall without breaking the bank.
In “Food Plots For The Rest Of Us,” I will discuss how bowhunters with small parcels of property can build a food plot that will attract bucks and provide good shot opportunities. On TV, bowhunters often see large green food plots that cost thousands of dollars to build and maintain. This article will show readers how to put in small food plots that don’t require much time, effort or money. Many food plot companies are offering seed blends that are drought tolerant, can handle a wide range of soil conditions and can be planted without the use of expensive machinery. With $100, a rake, a shovel and some elbow grease, hunters can put in a food plot that attracts deer. I will do a sidebar on how to build a small food plot in a remote location and a second one on the importance of doing a pH test. I will interview Steve Scott from the Whitetail Institute about how a small plot can often be the secret weapon bowhunters need to harvest a whopper buck.
One question that often gets asked at the Outdoorsmans headquarters is, “Are high end optics worth the investment?” The answer of course is yes, but I interviewed Cody Nelson from the Outdoorsmans so everyone would understand why high end optics are worth the money.
Most people swallow hard when they look at the price tag on a pair of Swarovski, Zeiss or Vortex Binoculars. They often decide not to make the purchase because many hunters don’t want to fork over $1,000 or more for a pair of binoculars. After all, that’s how much a gun or bow costs! “For some reason, hunters don’t have a problem buying a new bow that costs $1,200 but they have a problem spending that much on a pair of binoculars. The difference is a hunter replaces his bow every few years. A good pair of binoculars will last a lifetime if a person takes good care of them. Hunters need to consider their optics as a piece of serious equipment, not just another accessory,” Nelson explained.
Nelson believes spending good money on a pair of binoculars is worth the investment because good glass can increase the odds of success. “Good glass that is crystal clear and is a joy to look through. As a result, when using a good pair of binoculars while scouting or hunting, hunters will probably take more time to try to locate game. Cheap glass often doesn’t have good eye relief and hunters often end up with a headache. If hunters get a headache while glassing, they will probably quit hunting early, thus reducing the chances of spotting game. The clearer the optics, the better the eye relief, the longer a person is willing to sit and watch for movement. High quality glass can help a person be more successful in the field. Hunters have to see the animal and know where the animal is before they can slip in on it and actually hunt it,” Nelson added.
Whether a hunter is looking for the tips of antlers on a 350-inch bull elk or looking for a bedded Coues buck, having glass that is razor sharp and crystal clear is necessary. “If the image is fuzzy, spotting a bedded buck is more difficult. Seeing subtle movement or the difference in color when a buck is trying to hide in the rocks can be difficult with cheap glass. High end glass is clear and sharp, which makes spotting game easier. It’s the little things that make a difference. Having glass that is super clear can make a difference while hunting,” Nelson noted.
High quality glass outperforms inexpensive glass in lowlight conditions. “We know that animals move a lot at first light and at last light. Seeing them in low light conditions can be difficult, especially when using cheap glass. Every year when magazines do their optics tests, the companies that win the low light contests are companies that make high end optics. You won’t see a $200 pair of binoculars win that award. Being able to see game in lowlight is a necessity. High quality binoculars perform great under these conditions,” Nelson said.
People often worry about warranties when shopping for binoculars. Nelson says the beautiful thing about good glass is people rarely need to use the warranty. “All the optic brands we carry offer great warranties. The great thing is that the odds of someone needing to send in their binoculars or use their warranty if the binoculars are taken care of are slim. Customers get what they pay for. When people invest in good glass, it lasts a long time. High quality binoculars are a long term investment.
Are you in the market for a new pair of binoculars or a spotting scope? Do yourself a favor by buying the best optics you can afford. You won’t regret making the investment. Call the Outdoorsmans team and have them help you choose a pair of optics that are right for you.
Over the years, I have hunted with the Outdoorsmans pack all over America. From the bottom of the Grand Canyon to the backcountry of the Gila in search of trophy bulls, the pack has never let me down. However, the guys at the Outdoorsmans are never satisfied. The Long Range Pack System was good, but they wanted to make it better. This year, they made a few changes that truly make this pack unique. “We wanted to make the pack more user-friendly. We have all been in the backcountry and have had a problem getting something we wanted out of our pack because some of the pockets were hard to get to. We redesigned the pack to make it easy for hunters to get to those items they constantly use,” Cody Nelson said.
Outdoorsmans is known for being a company that knows optics and knows how to utilize them to maximize a hunt, so it seems logical that they would put a lot of effort into building a pack that is very user friendly for the hunter who regularly relies on their binoculars or spotting scope. “Our new Long Range Pack comes with a padded optics pouch in the lid of the pack that can hold binoculars as big as a pair of 15‘s. This pouch will protect binoculars and make it easy to get to so when a hunter sees something across the canyon and wants to look at it, they can get at their binoculars quickly instead of having to dig around for 15 minutes trying to get to their glass,” Nelson explained.
Another change is the new pack tripod retrieval system on the side of the pack that makes getting to a tripod quick and easy. “Before we had a long pocket, getting a tripod out of the pocket took a fair amount of time. Our new system comes with quick release buckles that keeps the tripod secure and makes getting to the tripod easy. On the opposite side of the pack, you can store a spotting scope. With this system, everything is at your fingertips and we all know that if getting to your optics is quick and easy, we will use them more,” Nelson added.
The bag on the new pack can be separated from the frame of the pack without being completely removed. This leaves a large spot in between the frame and the pack to store a quarter of meat. “This feature makes packing out meat much easier. Many packs require the bag to be removed and just the frame is used to pack out meat. This system allows you to pack out meat and pack out your gear at the same time or pack out more meat. This new feature keeps the meat bag secure and sandwiched between the pack frame and the pack so it doesn’t move around as you walk. It helps you distribute the weight and keep everything secure,” Nelson noted.
If you are looking for a new pack to use this fall, check out the New Long Range Pack System from the Outdoorsmans, you won’t be disappointed with all the new hunter-friendly features.