Why Binoculars Matter – Even at Close-Range

December 4, 2017

Every technique, every piece of equipment I carry into the deer woods has one common purpose: to increase my chances for a successful hunt. And to that end, one of my most used tools is my binoculars.

I used to think binoculars were just for long-range hunting, mostly for use in the Rocky Mountains or Western Plains where a hunter has to pick an animal out of a panoramic landscape. In fact, that’s where I first started using them. But then I discovered how useful they are the Eastern whitetail woods where I normally hunt.

I look at it as Superman vision. Why would you pass up a chance to see like Superman, or AT LEAST like the deer you’re hunting? How many times has a deer blown at you and spooked from back in cover where you couldn’t even see him? It’s because they can see much better than we can, especially given their “home court advantage”. Take back the advantage: carry binos to your stand and use them to peer into the thick, shadowy areas where you can’t see. You’ll be amazed at how much you actually can see in there, just not with your naked eye. The info you gain from watching these previously invisible travel routes will tell you where to place and move stands for better hunting. It also opens the door for you to grunt or rattle in a buck that you otherwise wouldn’t even have known was there. Binos are also great for clearly identifying your target when the shadows start to get long, making for a safer hunt and less cases of ground shrinkage.

Another great use for binoculars comes after the shot, assuming the deer ran off out of sight (common when hunting hardwood ridges). Think of it as motionless and soundless blood trailing. Super effective, it can help confirm how good the shot was and saves a lot of time on the ground looking for blood and potentially kicking up a wounded animal. Look for the exact spot the deer was standing when you pulled the trigger or released the arrow, then look for blood on the ground and trees, or for disturbed earth and leaves. With a decent pair of binos you can trail a wounded deer for 150 yards or more without ever leaving your stand. You’ll be amazed at the details you can piece together, and also the things you were unaware of at the moment of impact. Once I shot completely through a 2” tree only yards from where a nice buck was standing and yet I didn’t even notice until I started “bino bloodtrailing”. Didn’t see the tree, didn’t see it falling. Fortunately the 12 gauge slug had enough power to take out a tree plus the buck because he only went 40 yards over the ridge before expiring.

If binoculars aren’t a permanent part of your deer hunting gear, maybe it’s time to up your game and improve your chances!

- Barry Smith