Optics for Hunting

Breaking down the Best Optics for a Hunt

When you think about your most important pieces of gear for big game hunting in Alaska or anywhere, optics top the list. Alaska’s terrain is big and varied, and most game is spotted at a long distance.
In order to locate and assess game, evaluate the terrain and plan a safe, effective stalk, quality optics are key. As a rule of thumb, get the best optics you can afford. Quality optics gear is not cheap, but the investment is worth every cent. Since the day I first used them, I fell in love with Swarovski binoculars and spotting scopes.

The quality of this glass means no more eye fatigue and I can easily pick out and size up game from amazing distances; they also save me hours of wandering. I upgraded my binoculars to include Swarovski’s 10×42 EL Range. The first time I held these I was impressed with not only the clarity but also the wide field of view. Weighing in at only
32 ounces, they’re light and easy to handle. The first distant tree I ranged registered a reading of 1,172 yards.

Having a built-in rangefinder in these binos eliminates having to carry an extra device into the field. The ergonomic grip allows for stable holding and easy ranging, and the precise measuring takes the guesswork out of both long range shots and those on steep angles.

For my spotting scope, I stepped up to Swarovski’s ATX for two reasons.
First, the clarity throughout the entire HD lens is atop its class. There’s no need for refocusing when studying objects positioned on the edge of the lens.
The clarity and color definition are both crystal-clear from edge to edge, top to bottom and everywhere in between. Also, this spotting scope comes with three options for objective modules:
diameters of 65, 85 and 95 millimeters.
If hiking into steep mountains and I want to cut down on weight, the 65mm is my lens of choice. This might also be the one I use when glassing thick habitats in the Alaska Panhandle.
If hunting off a road system from boats or ATVs – where gear weight is of little concern – then the more powerful 95mm module works great. In habitats or situations that fall between, the 85mm performs well, and could be the most universal of the trio.
With the ATX or STX, you’re getting three spotting scopes in one. It’s true that they’re not cheap, but they’ll last a lifetime and fit every hunting application in the state.

As for rifle scopes, during my many years of hunting throughout Alaska I’ve used Weaver and Leupold. Both are good, but I never looked back once I started using Trijicon’s AccuPoint scope.

Trijicon has been crafting high-end scopes for the military, special forces and law enforcement for over 30 years.
They made a big impact when they entered the hunting world. Crafted from
high-grade, lightweight aircraft aluminum, Trijicon’s scopes are tough and feature fiber optics and tritium, both of which gather light to the center point of the scope. They were the first to master the battery-free illuminated reticle for the hunting world, and this feature has
many applications throughout Alaska.

Be it a post, standard crosshair or crosshair with mil dots, the illuminated reticle allows for quick and easy shot placement. When hunting amid dark timber or low light conditions for bear, deer and elk, the AccuPoint performs like no other scope I’ve used. Position a black reticle on a dark target, like a black bear, and an AccuPoint on the same target, and there’s no comparison.
With the black crosshairs, it’s easy to see why black bears are missed; with an illuminated reticle, misses are almost eliminated.
Trijicon scopes come in various models and powers. I like the 1×4 in a post for up-close, possibly dangerous encounters.
It can be the perfect bear and moose scope in brushy terrain. The 3×9
series is the best all-around option, regardless of what big game you’re after.

Specialized scopes include a 2.5-10×56 and a 5-20×50. Their RMR sight
offers even more unique applications and are growing in popularity among
brown bear guides, who in many instances find themselves in close-encounter situations with no time to think about the shot, just react.
Today’s high-end optics will last for decades, meaning your investment will pay off. When it comes to hunting in Alaska, don’t skimp on any part of your gear, especially optics. AmSJ

Editor’s note: Scott Haugen’s popular DVD, Field Dressing, Skinning and Caping Big Game, is the most comprehensive of its kind and focuses on six field dressing/skinning options and three caping strategies.
To order, visit scotthaugen.com or send a check for $20 to Haugen Enterprise, P.O Box 275, Walterville, OR 97489.