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How necessary are scopes for medium/big game hunting?

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

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  1. natman

    natman Member

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    No, it will make a dim game animal appear BIGGER, but not brighter. All scopes lose some light, good scopes less than others.
     
  2. 351 WINCHESTER

    351 WINCHESTER Member

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    Scopes are invaluable for us with failing vision. Even those with perfect vision can extend their hunting days by about an hour by using a scope. A decent scope allows the transmission of more light into our eyes. A good scope can also help one get a better look at the critter we are hunting (a buck's rack for instance).
     
  3. ricebasher302

    ricebasher302 Member

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    I find that an aperture sight is a far superior iron sight for hunting than some of the factory semi-buck horn sights. They provide eliminate contrast issues between front and rear sights, eliminate at least one focal point for your eye, and provide a much more open sight picture while not sacrificing any real accuracy (improving it in many cases).

    I've successfully (and quite easily) shot deer and elk at ranges inside 100 yards. Elk would be easy beyond 150 with this setup too, but as seems to be the consensus, you will lose capability in the low-light situations.

    The best thing to do would be to grab a .22 rifle with iron sights and set up simulated hunting scenarios and do a lot of shooting to see how comfortable and accurate you are in various situations, and remember that not all iron sights are created equally.

    Beyond that, hunting with iron sights is fun and rewarding.
     
  4. fdashes

    fdashes Member

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    Need..not really. Require...yup. The eyesight just ain't what it use to be. It also takes a lot better than average shooter to be an accurate shooter at 200 yds. open sight. One hundred yards not so much at all.
     
  5. natman

    natman Member

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    Some comments on the topic:

    No, a scope is not required, at least not in the sense that you can't kill a game animal without one. However, iron sights do have some limitations. It's a lot easier to hit with a scope. It makes the target bigger and easier to see.

    A scope puts both the target and the sight in the same plane, which makes it much easier for those of us of a certain age to hit with one. (I've given up on rifle hunting with open sights. I just can't get the target and the sights into focus with the same optical prescription. I still use a peep sight occasionally, but it's getting to be more and more hunting with a scope.)

    So for the OP if you hunt big game at relatively short distances, then you'll be fine with iron sights, if you can still find a gun that has them. A peep sight would be better if you can get one mounted for less than the cost of a scope.
     
  6. Coltdriver

    Coltdriver Member

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    Sounds like you may be a bit younger so you can usually get a pretty decent quality fixed power for a reasonable sum. Take a look on ebay, there are a lot of deals on there if you are patient and watch daily.

    On the brightness/light gathering ect comments. Here is what is happening with a top quality scope.

    Light occurs in various wavelengths. Red has a wavelength of around 650 nm. Blue has a shorter wavelength and is around 475 nm. An nm is a billionth of a meter. Blue also scatters more efficiently. So what happens, before sunrise and after sunset, is the blue light is pretty much scattered and the longer wavelengths are what your eye has left.

    This is where the coatings of a high end glass maker come into play. Companies like Nikon, Leupold, Swarovski, Zeiss etc are capable of very specialized coatings.

    Most of them are coating to allow in the blue light wavelength and to discriminate against the other slower wavelengths. They may be encouraging the passing of other wavelengths too, I am not an optics coating guru. This passing of the shorter frequency wavelengths in fact makes it appear to you as though the image is brighter than with your naked eye. And as you point out when you look thru a good piece of glass the image is absolutely brighter to your eye than when you look at the same thing with your naked eye.

    Notice you will get none of this effect with a genuinely cheap scope. A really good scope like a Swarovski or a Leupold VX-3 is almost too bright in pure sunlight, almost makes my eye ache to look thru it! But the VX II's or some of the Nikons have excellent glass that will give you an advantage.

    I have old eyes so a good scope does me a lot of good. I find a good scope to be supremely useful in a shaded forest setting. I would not trust my eyes to reliably tell a young buck with small horns from a doe at 200 yards in the shade. And small tree branches invisible to your naked eye come right in with a scope. And in the shade around sunset you need all the help you can get.

    I would not waste money on a truly cheap scope. I am not a glass snob, just someone who did waste a lot of money on cheap scopes. You save $100 and you are half way to pretty decent glass.
     
  7. Takem406

    Takem406 Member

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    Depends what and where your hunting.
    Out here in Montana if your elk hunting in thick timber your probably ok. But I've heard guys having to reach out and touch elk.
    But if you go out onto our prairie your SOL without a scope. Shots are usually at 200 yards and even a 3-9 for me isn't enough.

    Try shooting prairie dogs without a scope...

    But for tree stand hunting back east I'm guessing you'd be ok...

    In God and Glock we Trust
     
  8. Andrew Leigh

    Andrew Leigh Member

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    On the hunting ethics side. We have a responsibility to quickly and efficiently kill our target animal. If we are hunting at extended ranges then having a scope in my opinion greatly increases our ability for a quick kill.

    Having said which, if your thing is to get up real close and personal and to use open sights this can be just as efficient.
     
  9. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    I've used both successfully. When I had younger eyes, I preferred iron or aperture sights for Whitetail deer, which...in this area...were most often taken in cover at an average of about 75 yards, and a 100 yard shot was actually pretty rare. Most of mine were 50-60 yards.

    As I got older, and toward the end of my field pursuits, I started using fixed, low-power scopes. Today, I wouldn't even attempt a 75-yard shot with iron sights.

    The scope lets you zero more precisely, but more importantly...especially as your eyes age...it lets you hold more exactly in the kill zone instead of "Minute of Buck" that that often comes with iron sights and less than perfect vision. It also gives you a better chance of shooting through an opening in the brush, avoiding bullet deflection that can mean the difference between anchoring your deer and having to track it into the next county.

    There's a bit of romance in taking your deer like ol' Dan'l Boone did...but not at the expense of crippled game. If you're going to hunt a noble beast, you owe him a quick death at the least. Just my 2% of a buck...no pun intended.
     
  10. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

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    For the majority of all homo sap past the age of forty years, the eye's ability to deal with focussing on rear sight, front sight and the kill-spot on Bambi goes away. Sayonara, auf wiedersehen, adios.

    Scope time. :)
     
  11. Jason_W

    Jason_W Member

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    I'm not 40 yet, but that'll happen before I know it.

    may as well think ahead, I suppose.
     
  12. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    It creeps up on ya. You think you're doin' fine, then one day the eye doc says you need bifocals. :banghead: When you get 'em, THEN you figure out he was right and, well, might as well use that scoped rifle or handgun. :D

    I can still use irons in good light, but at dawn or dusk, just too much to deal with. And, at the range at 100 yards, takes me a while to break the sear now days. I have problems, can still group well at that range, but takes me longer per shot which really isn't a good thing in a hunting situation.

    Even my front loader has a scope on it, my serious hunting one, anyway.
     
  13. 351 WINCHESTER

    351 WINCHESTER Member

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    A quality scope will allow much more light transmission than any iron sight period. Yes, I know as rc has pointed that no scope transmitts 100% of light, but a quality scope will allow you to take game where iron's are totally useless.
     
  14. Silent Sam

    Silent Sam Member

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    "As far as killing Bambi, an old Weaver K4 is as good as anybody would ever need"

    Bingo! The new Weavers work too. I have gravitated to K4s and K6s. Less than $200 for a solid scope that is never out of adjustment and is an excellent field sight.
     
  15. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    I've lost my old KV 3-5. Moves will do that to ya. It was fogged and never got a trip to El Paso. Not even sure they'll fix 'em anymore. I had an old K4, sold with a 7mm Spanish Mauser. They were good scopes, but I like my newish (about 15 years old, now) 2x10x40 KV a LOT. :D It set me back a couple hundred bucks at the time and is more scope than the price IMHO.
     
  16. BADUNAME37

    BADUNAME37 Member

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    The main considerations are distance, distance and distance from the shooter to the target.

    If all your hunting shots are, say, within 60 yards, who needs a scope?
     
  17. Robert

    Robert Moderator Staff Member

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    It depends on where you are hunting and the distances you may see shots at. Last fall I hunted Elk in an area that had stands of dark, thick timber and wide open high mountain parks. In the timber irons would have been perfect, but not so much for the parks or cross canyon. I use a VX3 2.5-8 and love it. Low enough power to use in dense timber and enough power to take any long range shot I'd be comfortable with.
     
  18. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    Me. I am quicker on target and more accurate with a low power scope inside 50 yards on running game. I don't have to line anything up, comes to my eye, just put the little X on the spot and squeeze. It's a lot like an aimpoint, but without the batteries. Look at all the electronic sights in action pistol shooting, Bianchi cup type stuff. They use 'em because they're fast, no lining up three focal points, just put the pipper on the target. And, then there's the fact that most came show up, move, right at dusk or dawn in low light as we've been discussing.
     
  19. 4season

    4season Member

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    I have killed more deer with sights than scopes. However my favorite sights are not iron but fiber-optic. They are on my muzzle-loader. Every deer I have ever shot has been under 50 yards so I certainly didn't need a scope. However even with my fiber-optic sights I can't see my front sight in as low a light as I can with my scope. As I sit in my stand early in the morning I pull my gun up every few minutes and look for my front site. I can see my fiber-optics at least 10 minutes earlier than iron sites, but my scope can see 15 minutes earlier than than that. But my scope is about twice the $150 price you mentioned. I can also hit a target out to 300 yards with my scope.

    When I had a $150 scope on my muzzle-loader I missed several deer. Turned out my mounts went to crap and were letting the scope move around. Then when I got that fixed the scope went to crap and I missed 2 more deer. That is when I took the scope off and haven't missed since. I also have missed a longer shot chance on a deer a few years back when I accidentally breathed on my scope and fogged it up.

    My point is while a scope can let you take much longer shots and you can be more accurate there is a lot that can go wrong with a scope and it certainly adds lots of cost for a good setup.
     
  20. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    Simmons or Tasco?

    Weaver, Leupold, Burris, Nikon, all good scopes along with others too numerous to mention.

    I bought a 50 dollar chinese scope just on a lark at a "tool sale" in Victoria once. It has lighted reticule and didn't have that on a scope. It's been on my CVA wolf through several hundred rounds, now, since doing duties on an SKS. It's got good optics and hasn't broke. I'm pretty amazed at that. Could break any time, I guess. I'll put something else on it better if it does. :D I've taken one deer with it so far.

    To each his own. I've taken deer with irons. Did it just this year, but scopes are better, I'll admit that readily, and I don't mind spending money on a good optic. Bare in mind, too, I'm retired on a semi fixed income at the moment. But, the scope is more important than the rifle IMHO on a good rig. No need to get crazy, though. I knew an old German fellow, gone now, that would own NOTHING, but Schmidt and Bender. Well, I ain't that well off. :rolleyes: Would be nice, though, they were pretty awesome.

    To each his own, though. I have two places to hunt, now. One is deep, dark woods and the other could allow for a 150 yard shot, though all, but one deer taken there over the years that I can think of were 100 yards or less. Scopes help in either situation. Of course, as I've said, when I hunted west Texas and the mountains of New Mexico, scopes were more a necessity than an option. I made a 370 yard cross canyon shot on a mulie once with my 7 mag which didn't even come with iron sights or holes to mount any. A Weatherby Supreme 3x9x44 sits atop that one. GREAT scope and the best optics of any of my scopes.
     
  21. 4season

    4season Member

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    My scope that went to crap was a Bushnell TRX. I put a Burris Fullfield II in its place and had to send it off twice to have it fixed. I guess everyone makes a lemon sometimes.
     
  22. Cocked & Locked
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    Cocked & Locked Member

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    I'll take a scoped rifle

    The only big game hunting I do is with a scoped rifle unless I'm using a shotgun & buck shot.

    Being somewhat nostalgic, I do like most of my rifles to have iron sights zeroed at 50 yards and a detachable scope zeroed 1.5" above point of aim at 100 yards.

    The scope stays on but I like the option of removing the scope in the field if I drop the rifle. With 70 rolling up for my next birthday I'm not wanting missed opportunities. :scrutiny:

    375630575.jpg
     
  23. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    My favorite iron sight arrangement is a ghost ring aperture. I like to have it up on the barrel, too, rather than on the receiver, gives me more visual around the sight. That kinda goes against convention. Most think the receiver aperture is the way to go, but there's a lot of hardware in the way on those sights.

    I should get a pic of the sight on my .357 lever carbine. I got it off an old single shot .22. It's a really cool set up on that gun. I pulled the aperture out of it and made it a ghost ring. It's click adjustable for windage which is quite repeatable and that allows me to easily adjust it for my light .38 special loads (small game) or rip roarin' .357 magnums pushing a 165 grain Keith style SWC near 1900 fps.
     
  24. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Member

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    I like scopes and my shooting precision increased immediately upon using scopes. The main thing I like about scopes is that you are looking at a single plane of focus rather than looking at a front and rear sight and target.

    Many buy "more scope" than they need, thinking that they might need that extra power down the road. The typical buyer gets a 3-9x and slaps that on his rifle. My experience suggests that the high power (on variable power scopes) is mostly used for target shooting. But for varmint shooting, I think a scope is very important at ranges beyond 75 yds. If you can't see it, you can shoot it. A 2-7x scope is an excellent overall choice and tends to be smaller than a 3-9x scope. For most situations, a 4x scope is plenty.

    I agree with this.

    The more power.... the larger the scope... more weight... more chance of damaging it in the field....

    I have a 3-9x scope on my "deer rifle". Some get 4-12x or larger variables. I generally leave it set at 4x unless I am trying to take a shot beyond 100 yds and I have time to adjust the scope. I generally hunt in the woods and shots beyond 75 yds are rare. How many deer have I shot beyond 100 yds? Zero. But I feel confident out to 300 yds if need dictates and it is a safe shot.

    That is why I have pretty much shifted almost all of my deer hunting to revolver use in the woods. It's just a lot more fun and challenging. And yes, I have a 2x scope on my primary hunting revolver although I take others sometimes.

    You buy a scope to match your normal hunting environment. If you are trying to shoot elk at 500 yds, then, I would still probably be using a 3-9x, but would understand why some would want more power. Again, the dominant use I have for a scope is aiming convenience and shot placement. I have never been a great open sight shot. I tend to shoot not for center of mass or even the "heart lung" area, rather I tend to aim at a more precise spot. The scope makes all the difference from thinking... I can hit a paper plate "somewhere" to I can hit a squirrel at 75 yds.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2013
  25. Daniel

    Daniel Member

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    I can only give you my experience:

    I only use a scope on small stuff, like rabbits (.22LR); at 100 yards their heads are mighty small and the tips of all the front sights I've seen are bigger than such at that range!

    For boar, open sighted .44 Magnum Handi and Foster slugs from shotguns; no need for a scope over here, as I just plug them in the shoulder area and they go down quick. 50 to 100 yards.

    I don't feel like ever shooting over 100 yards on game; just what I prefer, so apart from rabbit heads, I don't need a scope.
     
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