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How necessary are scopes for medium/big game hunting?

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by Jason_W, Feb 2, 2013.

  1. Jason_W

    Jason_W Well-Known Member

    This is something I've been thinking about lately.

    To a degree, I resent the fact that on top of saving for a rifle, I have to save, minimally, an additional $150 for a scope that is at least mediocre.

    I understand that scopes amplify light which makes them a boon during the low-light hours in which game tend to move, but is there some kind of workaround? With appropriate practice can a hunter go scopeless and not be at a tremendous disadvantage when hunting medium and large game at reasonable distances?
  2. dbb1776

    dbb1776 Well-Known Member

    Hunting less than 200yds prob not. If you want to shoot farther probably so. Depends on your eyesight and terrain mostly.
    My longest shot on game so far is 120yds. Open sights no prob. Five years later my eyesight isn't as good and I need a scope.
  3. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Lots of big game was killed for for century's before scopes were invented.
    So yes, you can.

    The key word here is "hunt" though.

    You have to be able to hunt to get close enough to make a killing shot with open sights.

    For most people that will be inside 200 yards.

    Not snipe at game at 300-400 yards and hope they get in the way of a misguided bullet.

    If you are stalking or blind hunting the deep woods, open sights are probably all you need.

    If you are shooting across a mountain canyon, not so much.

  4. Andrew Leigh

    Andrew Leigh Well-Known Member

    Scopes do not amplify light, they are passive devices.

    Scopes amplify, if you will, the target image making it easier to see and line up on your POA.

    The distance you shoot at, combined with your ability, will determine your need for a scope. If your target is 200yds away and you are able to get a suitable accuracy over iron sights then you don't need a scope at that range. My dad used to shoot Bisley with a .303 up to 900yds with a peep sight.

    In Africa most rangers / guides will walk with open sights as any problems they encounter will be at 50 yds or less. It is also much easier to snap shoot over iron sights.
  5. Jason_W

    Jason_W Well-Known Member

    I'll limit the discussion to apply to a maximum range of 200 yards.

    I know that it's unlikely that I'll ever have the time and money to practice enough to be confident past that range.

    Besides, I live in Maine. I don't know if there is such a thing as a 250 yard shot here.
  6. DMH

    DMH Well-Known Member

    Scopes are not necessary, but you will have to determine the need for a scope yourself. Type of rifle, shot distance and eyesight all play into the equation. I prefer open sights or peep sight over a scope. But at 50 years old and I can tell my eyes are changing using a scope on some hunts or target shoots has been a plus. Some things you just have to try and see what you like.



    Open sights 75 yards 44-40 Marlin 1894. (fall of 2012)
  7. Jason_W

    Jason_W Well-Known Member

    Poor choice of words, I apologize.

    They do gather light and make dim objects appear brighter.
  8. dubbleA

    dubbleA Well-Known Member

    Not quite........

    Scopes simply allow light to transmit through their lens, they dont "gather" anything. The better quality of the glass and it's coatings, the better light transmission. Exit pupil plays into the equation also.
  9. Jason_W

    Jason_W Well-Known Member

    I respectfully disagree. Just as you cannot see the Orion nebula with the naked eye but you can with a decent telescope, a scope will make a dim game animal appear brighter.
  10. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Disagree all you want.

    But no optic has perfect light transmission of 100%.

    Even the best rifle scopes made do good to approch 95% light transmission.
    And certainly none of them can exceed 100%.
    So they are not "amplifying" light.

    What they are doing is collecting the available light with a big objective lens, many times bigger then your eye, and magnifying the image using approx 90-95% of the light that started through the scope.

    The other 5%-10% of the light is lost forever inside the scope.

  11. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Well-Known Member

    Scopes make shooting accurately easier for most folks.There is no lining up of anything, just put the dot or cross-hairs on the target and shoot. This is true for 50 yards or 2000. If one does not have perfect eyesight or is cross eyed dominate, there is even more of an advantage. Scopes for medium range shooting, 50-200 yards, do not need to be the big monies investment that many think. With today's technology there are many excellent quality name brand scopes out there for $150 or less that will do anything a shooter needs at ranges under 200 yards, especially on targets with the kill zone the size of a deer. Years ago, only the most expensive scopes had a light transmission of 80% or more....now transmission of over 90% is common on most $150 scopes. If one only needs a standard non illuminated reticule and magnification/zoom of 9 or less, there are many excellent options out there for $150. For $75 more, one could get a Leupold VX-1 3-9x40mm and never want for anything better. I suspect here in Wisconsin, more deer are killed with scopes that cost less than $150 and open sights, than deer killed with more expensive glass. In exceptionally rugged terrain and expansive ranges where most shots encountered will be 300 yards or more, then one needs to consider better glass.
  12. Grumulkin

    Grumulkin Well-Known Member

    1. At close range, a scope is a disadvantage and not an advantage.

    2. For a person with 20/20 vision, with practice one should be able to get within the kill area for a chest shot on a deer at 200 yards with iron sights providing the gun is accurate enough.

    I've taken 2 deer with iron sights. One at probably 30 yards with a 270 Winchester rifle and the other first hit at around 40 yards with a 44 Magnum handgun.
  13. MCgunner

    MCgunner Well-Known Member

    I'm quicker on target on a short distance moving animal with a low power scope than not. Harder to point, shoot, but aimed fire is the point. I've never had great eyes and at 60, they don't focus like they used to. But, I proved to myself this year I can still do it with irons, though the shot was only 30 yards, but on a running, snorting buck.

    A scope will extend shooting light, I don't care if it GATHERS it or what it does, you can see to shoot at LEAST 15 minutes longer and with the better scopes, more. Seeing both front and rear sight AND the game is tough at dusk, especially on a dark background. Add to that old eyes, and, well, I normally shoot with a scope even if the range is short. Now, when I hunted west of the Pecos and up in the Guqdalupes, I made some shots in excess of 300 yards. That requires a scope. I wouldn't take a shot like that with irons, I don't care what the old buffalo hunters did with their Sharps rifles and tang sights.
  14. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

    As far as killing Bambi, an old Weaver K4 is as good as anybody would ever need, from the standpoint of "need". That's if a rational 300 yards is pretty much your outer limit--although I killed a DRT buck, first shot, with my 3x9 set on 3X and out at 350 yards.

    V-notch or buckhorn open sights? As far out as you can hit the end of a beer can.

    Good peep sight? Probably no real problem to 300 or so, depending on your own skill. Maybe even farther, if you're really good.

    I bought an old Leupold Vari-X II from here at THR for $150. Works quite nicely on my bolt-action .223 for prairie dogs to 300 yards. Hardly mediocre.

    Bases and rings? Again, shop the good-used stuff at a gunshow. I've been using Weavers since 1950. They've always worked.
  15. avs11054

    avs11054 Well-Known Member

    Is it necessary? No. A rifle is not necessary either, as virtually all big game can be hunted with a bow and arrow. Does it give the hunter an advantage? Yup. The longest shot I have ever witnessed in person on big game was a 440 yard shot by my dad on a doe antelope. Probably not impossible with irons, but a scope greatly improves your chances of putting an animal on the ground.
  16. jmr40

    jmr40 Well-Known Member

    Gotta disagree.

    In good light, I can easily hit deer sized targets standing still out to at least 200 yards with irons. The main reason people make comments like this is because they are using way too much scope and don't know how to use them. With a low powered scope even at the closest range it is far easier to find the target and get the crosshairs on it with a good scope than any iron sight. I find an optical sight much more helpful at 15 yards right at dawn or dusk, or on a moving target, than at 150 yards on a stationary target in good light.

    Guys who shoot in the 3 gun type competitions where the shooting is fast paced at a variety of ranges as well as the military all use low powered optics with generous eye relief and found it to be the best combination for this type of shooting.

    You obviously don't have to use optics. You don't have to use a rifle, you could choose to hunt with a longbow. But a quality optic, used correctly is better than any iron sight, at any range, in any situation.
  17. Sav .250

    Sav .250 Well-Known Member

    Do what you want. Scope it. Don`t scope it. Somewhere down the road you`ll get it.
  18. Lloyd Smale

    Lloyd Smale Well-Known Member

    If you want a challange leave the scope at home. If you want to eat venison take it along! Ive been shooting deer for over 40 years and have shot them with and without scopes. My eyes may be getting a bit old but id change that 200 yard range for open sigths everyone is quoting to 100. Go and shoot a group with your deer rifle at 200 yards with open sights under field conditions (not off a bench) then come back and tell me if you still have faith. Anymore if shots could present themselves at more then a 100 yards id no more go out without ammo then without a good scope. A scope is also many times the only way you can judge what the quality of the animal is. theres not allways time to use binoculars and many times ive put the scope on a deer at a 150 yards and then lowered the gun because i could tell it wasnt the animal i wanted. Heck at 200 yards if your looking for any buck most of us couldnt tell a spikehorn from a doe without some sort of optic.
  19. Jason_W

    Jason_W Well-Known Member

    I guess the only real way to for me to find out is to give it a try for a few seasons and see what happens.
  20. MCgunner

    MCgunner Well-Known Member

    +1. I love my little Remington M7 in .308 with its 2x10x40 Weaver KV (modern weaver, not the old steel tube). It's very versatile, It's fast on running deer at close range when still hunting, no lining up sights on a third focal point. And, it's 3/4 MOA accurate for cross canyon shots out west. I topped it with some sights I had bought and didn't use for a contender, Millett scope toppers. they're adjustable iron sights that are fitted to the top ring. I don't use these on the gun, they being high and awkward and with the sight radius of a rather short barreled handgun, but I can group with 'em good 'nuf out to 75 or 100 yards and figure if I were to drop the gun and were worried about the scope, they'd be back up until I could get back home to grab another gun or get it benched on my range to check. Never had to use 'em, but hell, I had 'em laying around. They'd make a lot more sense on a Contender, I guess, but I wasn't using 'em for anything else. I don't think Millett even makes these anymore, probably did not sell well. I can understand THAT. :D

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