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Scouting -- How's your glassing skills?

One of the most important skills you must have to be a good hunter is good glassing skills. And though good glassing skills are important for hunting, they're are even more important when it comes to scouting.

Good glassing starts with a good set of binoculars. They need to be comfortable for your eyes. Everyone has their own opinion on which binoculars are the best, and you will to. I suggest that you talk with friends, maybe borrow their bino's for the weekend and try them out before buying a set.
You need to plan on spending several hours each day looking through them, so make sure they'll work for you and won't force you to give up early.

Second, bino's will get you so far, but you may want something even more powerful for spotting long range (1000 yards to 2 miles out). This is where a good spotting scope comes in. Just as with bino's, everyone has a different opinion on which is best. Again, I suggest borrowing a buddies scope to try out before investing several hundred dollars.
If you don't have a buddy to borrow from and are forced to just buy and hope the best, then I suggest getting on the MonsterMuleys.com message board and asking some of our regulars first. We have lots of very helpful visitors who can offer some great advice.

Alright, so your set. You have the bino's, you have the spotting scope, and your ready to spot.
Ok. First thing you need to do. Be in your spotting location before day break! Get comfortable, because you'll want to be there a while.

I personally like to start my spotting along the edge of the tree's, then work my way towards the more open area's of a hillside. I do this because if there's a big buck feeding just along the edge of the tree's, I want to catch him before he disappears.
Often times, big bucks will remain very close to safety of the tree's, especially as it begins to get light in the morning. If you were to start glassing the wide open country first, then work your way towards the treeline, those big bucks might slip away before you ever see them. I do the same when I spot in the evenings. Since bucks will typically be bedded in the tree's throughout the day, I spot the edge's waiting for them to appear. Over the years, I've learned that in the evening, big bucks often won't feed more than a few dozen yards from the tree's until it's dark.
Remember, this is how big bucks are able to grow old and get big. They don't get old by being stupid or having bad habits.

In my experience, scouting and hunting has always been best in the early morning. However, if you're a diehard and really want to give yourself a little better chance, try spotting during mid-day.
First of all, as the sun changes position in the sky, the shade on the ground also changes position, meaning that a buck who found shade at 8:00 in the morning is in the sun by 1:00pm. He's going to get up, probably feed around a short while, then find a new spot to rest until evening.
If you're in the right place at the right time, you might just catch him. Also, if you have that comfortable spotting scope, glass under tree's and in the brush. I've spotted many great bucks during mid-day as they laid in their beds.
The key to spotting bucks in their beds is to look for anything that looks out of place from its surroundings, then study it and determine what it is. You'll be surprised. Often times, that "out of place" object turns out to be an antler tine, a portion of the deer's rear, etc.
A good spotting scope is almost essential for this type of glassing because you really need to be steady (using a tripod) and you'll need the power (20x to 30x).

As you might guess, I believe that good glassing skills rank right up there with good shooting skills when it comes to being a good hunter and increasing your chance for a wallhanger.

Good luck this year and keep those binocular len's clean!

Brian Latturner