Glass for elk

s10

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Feb 9, 2022
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I am going on a first rifle elk hunt this fall in CO. Of course, there is an antler point restriction for bulls in this limited entry unit. I have a quality set of 10x42 Maven binos that have been used on many hunts. Should I buy a spotting scope or a higher magnification bino set? I am personally leaning towards that my 10x will do just fine for identifying legal bulls to pursue. Thoughts/feelings on this?
 

CoHunter1991

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Jan 18, 2021
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I have hunted with just a 10x42 bino in a ton of units in Colorado with antler restrictions and have never had any issues. I have had to get closer a few times to be sure though.
 

ElkHunter80

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Jul 21, 2020
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Depends on how far you plan to hike to find the elk, and how much weight you want to carry! I've only used binos but I also hike about 8-10 miles round trip minimum each day and didn't want to carry the spotter.
 

Dsnow9

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Oct 29, 2019
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I have hunted with 12s on a tripod for years and brought a spotter. Spotter maybe leaves the pack once a trip. Likely not taking it anymore but will continue to bring tripod. It’s a great compromise. With binos you can tell the difference between a legal and non legal bull. If your trying to score a bull and get a certain score…. Then bring a spotter I guess. I just hunt for meat.
 

Bluffgruff

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Jun 23, 2019
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Colorado
You don't really need a spotter to tell legality. I would join in the tripod recommendation for the 10x binos. You'll see more game, which is the key to finding legal bulls. Elk have a standard antler pattern, and MOST branch antlered bulls are going to be 4pts or 5" browtine legal in Colorado. I'm not any good at hunting them, but I can find a bunch with my binos on a tripod.
 

Brad

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Jan 13, 2001
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Montana
The quality of the glass (resolution is what you pay for) is more important than magnification. Going back to the mid 1980's, the only glass I've ever used is 7x30/8x30-32. I remember one brutally cold November morning watching a group of three bulls head up the mountain to bed. I could easily count points at 1 mile as the crow flies with the 7x30 Swarovski's I was using that morning. I trekked over in knee deep snow and killed the 6pt. For my hunting method I just don't like 10x42 glass. Bulky and heavy and the 10x exagerates handshake. I'd far rather have my little 8x32 Leica Ultravids tucked under my armpit or around my neck without a bloody harness, than the reverse. Having used enough 10x glass in the field I fail to see its advantage. For me it's better birding than big game hunting. The truth is, if a good quality 8x won't give you the information you need, a 10x won't either, in which case it's time to pull out a spotter.

YMMV
 
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JAG

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Mar 2, 2020
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Spotters are great for counting rings on rams. 12 or 15 power binos are better/easier on your eyes during long sessions than a spotter. These work really well for counting points on an elk.

I have an 80mm spotter and 12 power binos that I used together. I find myself leaning towards using only my 12 power binos than my spotter since the magnification is very good, a notable weight difference (28 oz for bino versus 68 oz for spotter), and the field of view at 1,000 yards is much larger on my 12 power (251 feet at 1,000 yards).

For my 80mm spotter with 27 -50 power magnification has an FOV of 105 - 73 feet respectively. Weight 68 oz.

If you already use a tripod for your 10 power binos, then I would consider getting 15 power bino's instead of a spotter. For example, Leupold's 15 power's weigh 45 oz, have a 231 ft FOV at 1,000 yards.

(edited to include specifics)
 
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JAG

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Mar 2, 2020
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While my opinion differs from Brad's, I really like his input on the 8 power binos. It makes perfect sense. I have not justified the $$ for alpha glass yet, but perhaps I should. I just purchased 10p Meopro Airs from Predator Optics. Can't wait to see the comparison this season; from what I gather, these are alpha glass quality without big-brand recognition.
 

Cornell Cowboy

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Apr 5, 2019
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Laramie, WY
I am going on a first rifle elk hunt this fall in CO. Of course, there is an antler point restriction for bulls in this limited entry unit. I have a quality set of 10x42 Maven binos that have been used on many hunts. Should I buy a spotting scope or a higher magnification bino set? I am personally leaning towards that my 10x will do just fine for identifying legal bulls to pursue. Thoughts/feelings on this?
Your 10x binos that you have will work fine. I don't think you need anything additional.
 

king13

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Jun 19, 2022
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I’m gonna buy a sig sauer Oscar 3 for this season. I’m wanting it for the fact it’s compact and light for packing.
 

jace

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Jun 7, 2018
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Montana
If you plan on glassing up bulls a long ways off I would lean towards a spotter over bigger binos. You could probably get away with just your 10 power binos on a tripod as well. I have had 10x binoculars and an 85mm spotter for the last few years and I feel like my spotter has been more useful than higher power binoculars. Good 10x binoculars paired with nice a spotting scope is hard to beat. Although, I do see some situations where swapping the 10x for something bigger could be helpful. Good luck this season.
 

dk88

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Jul 7, 2010
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Montana
I would agree with most in this thread, I rarely pack the spotter anymore for elk and mainly my 10x binos and if its open country I pack the 15x.
 

Redman

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Mar 31, 2017
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Indiana
I use 8x binoculars and a spotter on a tripod for rifle elk. Archery I leave the spotter at home for elk. Everything else the spotter is with me. I also use it for a rifle rest. I can't count how many animals I have killed while glassing. I will be scanning with my spotter and take a break and look close and animals come in while I am glassing further away. Just turn the spotter side ways, rest the rifle on it and bang notch the tag.
 

SCliving Outdoors

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Feb 9, 2018
Messages
458
Location
South Carolina
I have a set of 11x45 mavens. I almost always find the animal with my binos then use the spotter for a closer look. I carry a very lightweight spotter (31oz). It works great for me and I use it pretty regularly, but Im also not just trying to identify a legal bull. I would probably still carry a light spotter, but not a huge heavy 80mm.
 

bignest

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Mar 4, 2018
Messages
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All good stuff, I haven’t seen you mention the terrain or unit. Do you need a spotter in your unit or are you just packing in extra weight. I’m no expert by any means, but the last 5 years I’ve only needed my spotting scope on 1 hunt, and I really would have been ok without it. Glassed a nice muley from a long way off and made a hell of a play on it if I say so myself. But other than that my binos have been good enough for locating and identifying elk. You’ll have less eye fatigue and better field of view with the binos. So if you’re day hunting and don’t mind the weight then I’m all about getting new gear, but if you’re packing in I’d give some thought to how necessary the spotters are.
 
Yeti

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