Looking Good!

Sponsored by: Dead Down Wind & The Archery Hall of Fame

By: M.R. James

A BRIEF FLICKER OF MOVEMENT in the treeline across the picked cornfield snags my attention. Shifting slightly in my treestand, I slowly lift my binoculars and focus on the deeper shadows behind a large white oak growing at the field’s edge just over 100 yards away. Had I glimpsed a jay flitting limb to limb? Or was it a whitetail easing closer, checking the opening for danger before stepping out to nose among the dry leaves and broken stalks for tasty corn kernels?

Mere moments later my questions are answered when a mature doe walks into the field and begins to feed. Within seconds I spot a second deer moving through the brush behind the sentinel oak. Turning my attention to the second animal, I see a telltale flash of white. Antlers! Big antlers! A thick-necked 10-pointer is trailing the lone doe, and my heart begins to hammer from the adrenaline jolt that all deer hunters live for.

DON’T MISS OUT — Many years ago I learned to carry quality-made, lightweight and waterproof binoculars each time I go bowhunting. From pre-season scouting trips to the end of hunting season, they’re one accessory item that can help spell the difference between success and failure. Check around and you’ll find optics that are just right for you, your budget, and the hunting you do.

TIME WAS I OWNED ‘EM ALL, from costly spotting scopes to pricey lightweight binoculars … and just about everything in between. I’ll admit they sure came in handy on my farflung bowhunting adventures for the wide variety of North American big game species I pursued. But with advancing age and some hard lessons learned in the field during the past half century, I’ve pretty much pared my personal optics priorities to what’s really needed for the hunting I favor nowadays.

Since my hours of painstaking long distance glassing during spot-and-stalk bowhunts are mostly memories now, I am far more concerned with lightweight quality binocs than high-res, waterproof and fogproof super-bright spotting scopes and tripod mounts costing a thousand or two for the package. The treestand and ground-blind hunting strategies of my retirement years require optics that are affordable, practical, and specifically intended for use in shadowy timber and thick brush where deer and bear are frequently hunted.

As mentioned in the opening anecdote, I need to know if that attention-grabbing movement in the undergrowth was a bird, squirrel, or buck. Is that whitish looking branch a dead limb or an antler beam and tines? And is that buck heading my way a mature shooter or a youngster with good genetics and a promising future? Nothing can help give me the necessary answers better and faster than good binoculars. I simply won’t leave home without ‘em. And neither should you.

Go on-line and visit www.cabelas.com or www.basspro.com. Better yet, drop by the nearest Cabela’s, Bass Pro, Gander Mountain, or favorite sporting goods outlet. Take a close look at the quality optics being offered and you’ll find prices to fit most any hunter’s needs and wallet. While there’s no questioning the quality and performance of Swarovski, Leica, Leupold, Zeiss, and other high end hunting optics, there are other name brand models worth your consideration.

For example, over a good many hunting seasons I’ve mostly relied on Nikon, Vanguard and Bushnell binoculars and scopes, with excellent results. But the one recently field tested binocular that’s really impressed me is the Alpen Apex XP. It’s handsome, rugged and ideal for my current hunting requirements. Clarity and crisp images are the norm, even in typical low-light situations so common early mornings and late evenings.

WHAT’S BEST? The correct answer is binoculars that you like and are best-suited for the the game and habitat you hunt. And if you’re looking for quality at a good price, take a close look at the Alpen Optics line of fine binoculars. Personally, I like the 10×42 Alpen Apex XP camo binocular. Its 10-power magnification and larger objective lens provide a sharp image in low light conditions typical of the deer and bear hunting I enjoy season after season.

My Apex model features Mossy Oak camouflage, rubber armoring, twist-lock eye cups, and magnification options of 8x to 16x. My personal choice is 10×42. Honestly, given the choice, I’ll opt for either 10×32 or 10×42 binoculars because I know the 10-power magnification and larger objective lens numbers will provide the image size and sharpness I demand. Check it out for yourself and while you’re at it look over the other affordable Alpen quality optics at www.alpenoptics.com. All binocs come with a no-fault, no-problem lifetime warranty.

THE OLDER I GET, the more I appreciate everything that keeps me drier, warmer, and more comfortable in the field. Whether it’s a comfy treestand seat, cold-defeating camo clothes, boots, and gloves, or quiet yet totally waterproof rainwear, I know that comfort and patience go hand in hand. And while my eyesight is better than most seniors on the backside of 70, I’m a longtime believer in packing along optics no matter a hunter’s age. They may not be as necessary as bows, arrows, and broadheads, but binoculars should rank near the very top of any accessory list. So don’t overlook the obvious. Choose the binocular that best suits you and the hunting you do. It’s a savvy investment that in due time will pay big dividends. Believe it!