One definition of a vortex is a whirling mass. Well, that pretty much sums up the optics offerings for today’s hunter.
I will be the first to admit that early in my hunting career I was the guy who didn’t carry a spotting scope or a rangefinder. The reasons were many but the major one was finances. I was also at the time in my life where a good set of binoculars was all I needed, as I didn’t care about trophy quality. If there was an animal of any size across the canyon that I was hunting for, I was on my way – it was that simple. If I was lucky enough to get into range with my recurve bow, there was no need for a rangefinder either as I was typically inside of 20 yards.
If I was rifle hunting, I was pretty confident in my ability to guesstimate the distance and keep it inside my comfort range of 400 yards with my .270 Winchester. This was some 20 years ago and back then I had never even heard of the science behind steep-angle shooting, let alone how to compensate for it. As they say, hindsight is 20/20 and today my situation is still much the same, except when it comes to looking for trophy quality and possessing a far better knowledge of precision rifle shooting, the hopeful evolutionary path for every hunter.
So what does all this lead to, you may ask? Well, from the missed opportunities and misjudged trophies, I wanted more. I wanted to know with relative certainty what quality of buck or bull I was about to play chess with and exactly how far my shot was going to be in steep, mountainous terrain. For me it all boiled down to picking the right optical solutions from that swirling mass of options out there.
With the obligations of life (much like many of my fellow hunters out there) my financial situation leaves little room for high price point optics but my job responsibilities give me access to the finest optics on the planet. I am hoping to be able to help you shorten your optics learning curve through my past experience and access to any optics on the market.
For a spotting scope, I selected the Vortex Razor HD 16-48x65mm with the angled eyepiece. I found this spotter to be the best balance between magnification and weight for backcountry hunts. It was easy on my wallet and performs extremely well in the low-light situations that we most often find our trophy in.
During my recent summer scouting trips, I was able to pick out deer far earlier and later in the day than my hunting partner could with his spotter from a very reputable manufacturer.
Its rugged armored housing reminds me of an Abrams tank and takes the abuse that a backcountry hunt dishes out and keeps on going. I have zero questions as to whether this spotter will function flawlessly when I need it most.
Once I’ve located my target animal, hopefully executed my stalk plan to perfection and find myself within shooting range, I have the Vortex Ranger 1000 on my chest harness. This rangefinder is invaluable at taking the guesstimation out of the shot equation.
Its intuitive menu is super easy to navigate and customize to the hunter’s preference and the HCD (Horizontal Component Distance) feature is an absolute must for hunters out West. The HCD feature automatically compensates for the shot incline or decline and provides you a shoot to distance – read that as “no more shooting over your trophy.”
The reflective range on hard targets reaches out to 1,000 yards and on game animals out to 500 yards. It also reads as close in as 11 yards, which is huge for bowhunters. It also sports 6x magnification, making ranging small, distant targets a cinch.