Spotting game at long distance. Is there a trick to doing it?

GlockZ

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A friend of mine recently went to Montana on a mule deer/antelope hunt. The guide would take him out everyday to glass for game. My friend had no problems picking game out to about 400 yds., past that had no idea what to look for or what he was looking at. Since I have never glassed for game at long distance,was wondering if there are any tricks to the trade. I plan on doing this same hunt with him next fall.
 

Hunting Wife

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400 yards isn't very far in a lot of mule deer/antelope country. We glass a lot of animals at distances of a mile or more. Having good glass makes a lot of difference, especially in low light so take the best optics you can afford.

Get to a good vantage point, and then just take your time. Don't rush glassing. What you are looking for depends on what the habitat looks like and what the animal is. At close distances, you are looking for movements or parts of animals. At longer distances you might be looking for dark animals on a light background, white rumps on a dark background, movement, shapes. Antelope usually means you are looking for white spots no matter what the background. Either way, it just takes some practice to train your eye and learn a search image. If you are going with a guide again, have him show you what he's looking at so you can see exactly what you are looking for.
 

bobbydean

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I was always taught to look for horizontal. Nature does not have a lot of horizontal. Take a closer look if you see horizontal. More of a naked eye solution.

Good optics is the obvious answer.
 
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Gerald Martin

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Horizontal lines, color characteristics and movement are what makes most animals stand out to me. If you have good optics get a tripod adapter for your binoculars and use a tripod. You will be amazed how much better you can spot game.
 

GlockZ

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As for glass, I already have a pair of Leupold 10x42 binoculars. Have been looking at adaptors and tripods. As for a spotting scope still looking at them. Can't decide on a straight or angled eye piece.
 

Gr8bawana

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I was always taught to look for horizontal. Nature does not have a lot of horizontal. Take a closer look if you see horizontal. More of a naked eye solution.

Good optics is the obvious answer.
Also look for colors that are not quite right.
 

406LIFE

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I can't add more to what's above: horizontal backs, movement, color are the priority list for me.

But don't cheap out on optics.

Also make sure that you have a rest for your binos if you are glassing for awhile (knees or tripod). Long distance makes any movement in your hands exaggerated.

The idea in practice is to train your eye. Once your eye knows what to look for it will begin to subconsciously begin to do it. This is why when its duck season and I am driving down the highway at 80mph and see a little black dot out of the corner of my eye my head instantly turns. My wife does not like that...
 

1_pointer

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Better optics help, to a point. Before Buzz went high falutin' with some fancy optics he'd still out spot me with binos that I'm pretty sure were as old as I was. Practice doing it is very important IMO.
 

Jamen

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I can't add a lot more than what was stated above. I have been blessed with above average eye sight and from an early age I could spot game a long ways out. I remember my uncles and grandfather would fight to see who I would ride around with deer hunting so I could spot deer. But that being said I look for what does not belong. If something looks out of place most likely it is out of place.

I do not know if it is a thing or not but train your eyes. If you are out only for deer or elk look for those special characteristics each has. Look for places that you would think an animal would be. A hot day look in the shaded areas or under trees. Cold windy day glass side hills that are favorable for an animal to lay out of the elements. If you are not the best at it go when ever you have free time. You do not need to be hunting to spot animals just keep practicing and it will start to come to you.
 

jryoung

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You aren't looking for deer, elk or antelope, you're looking for a leg, and ear, a tine, or something not quite the same as the surroundings. Find the individual pieces to put the puzzle together.

Technique in scanning helps to, use a grid format. Start at the top or bottom corner of your visibility, scan left to right edge to edge, then go up or down based on where you started with some overlap of your previous scan, work your way to the top or bottom, then do it again.
 

Festus

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You aren't looking for deer, elk or antelope, you're looking for a leg, and ear, a tine, or something not quite the same as the surroundings. Find the individual pieces to put the puzzle together.

Technique in scanning helps to, use a grid format. Start at the top or bottom corner of your visibility, scan left to right edge to edge, then go up or down based on where you started with some overlap of your previous scan, work your way to the top or bottom, then do it again.
^^I do this; scanning in a pattern, for the most part. Once through a time or two and you pretty much memorize the scene in your mind then any change, such as a body part added (or subtracted), or a change in color really sticks out to you.
...Then of course this changes as the sun and shadows move or the time of day.
 

Gr8bawana

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I have seen deer materialize out of nowhere when they got up to move from one side of a tree to the other to get back in the shade.
 

schmalts

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Steady hand or steady rest. If you have hands that shake consider 8X over 10X. Pan, stop, look inside the FOV, repeat. You will see more while stopped than panning.
 

Goatshoes

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You either have it, or you don't. mtmuley
I hate to say it but I think this is the most accurate. I don't have it. But either way stabilize your glasses with a tripod. That way if you "have it" you'll have it quicker and if you don't "have it" you'll sometimes get lucky.
 

Baerman

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patience, grid, stability, shapes and movement for me. I'm still working on the patience but getting better the older I get.
Very good optics help tremendously!
 

Gut Shot

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Patience, good optics and practice. The longer you do it the easier it gets. Also I go at it with the attitude that game IS there, I just have to find it.
 

TimeOnTarget

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Quality optics... After that its just practice and finding parts of game that reveal the rest.
Nothing more really needs to be said than this statement. Quality optics make spotting game at long distance a breeze. Once you know what you're looking for, just makes it that much easier.
 
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