Sometimes hunting isn’t glamorous. Sometimes, it involves a whole lot of sitting, waiting, and patiently observing, eyes welded to a pair of binoculars or a spotting scope in the hopes of detecting the slightest movement revealing your quarry’s position. Here are a few tricks for making those long hours of “glassing” more fruitful—and less of a chore.
Start with quality glass
Cheap glass—be it binoculars or a spotting scope—will only cause frustration and disappointment. Quality glass provides superior light gathering, ensuring you’ll be able to see more in low-light conditions and buying you additional hunting time, particularly at dawn and dusk. It will also provide superior clarity—helping you to pick up subtle movement—and reduce eye fatigue, meaning you can spend longer observing—the key to successfully spotting game.
Invest in a stable (and light) tripod
Not only will free-handing binoculars fatigue your arms in a hurry, any movement of the glass will obscure movement of game. You need a rock-solid platform to hold your optic. Lightweight tripods are certainly a boon to backpack hunting, but they may flex and sway in heavy winds. You’ll have to decide between the weight savings of carbon fiber and the stability (and reduced price) of aluminum.
Take (along) a seat
Sitting on hard, cold, uneven ground for hours will ensure your glassing experience is an unpleasant one. Bring along a packable foam or inflatable pad to rest on and give your bum and back a break. If the terrain allows, find a stump or fallen tree to support you while you lean back. Make yourself as comfortable as nature will allow: You’re gonna be here a while.
Bring a snack
Remove any excuse to call it an early day and head back to camp. Bring along food and a beverage to keep you full and hydrated. Snacks such as hard candies or jerky that require a little work to eat can be a pleasant distraction when things are slow.
Find a good vantage point
Perhaps the most crucial aspect of glassing is finding a vantage point with excellent visibility. If possible, find a spot with some elevation. Focus less on finding a position with shooting opportunities and more on gaining visibility—when you spot game, you can grab your rifle and set out in pursuit.
Take a break
Although it’s true that you’ll improve your chances of seeing game with every minute spent glassing, that doesn’t mean you have to spend hours on high alert without so much as blinking. Give your eyes frequent breaks to prevent fatigue. Periodically set aside the binos or spotting scope, too: You’ll be surprised how much the naked eye can pick up.