By Beau Martonik
I remember a time when I rarely carried binoculars while hunting in my home state of Pennsylvania. The Appalachian Mountains of the East may have their own version of mountains, similar to the West, but its dense forests always seemed like a place that optics wouldn’t be very beneficial. Well, I didn’t know what I was missing. Literally…when I thought about optics, I thought about seeing far away in open spaces, which is definitely a benefit of optics, but far from their sole purpose. As an eastern whitetail hunter, utilizing binoculars throughout all times of the year opened up more opportunities and allowed me to be more efficient with my precious time in the woods.When it comes to whitetail hunting in the big woods, it’s always been a year-round approach for me. As the snow begins to melt and spring weather peaks in, I cover endless timber in search of shed antlers and deer sign laid down from last fall. I typically walk in excess of 200 miles in March and April trying to better understand mountain bucks and increase my odds for the upcoming fall hunting season. When I’m covering ground, I try to cover it efficiently and carefully so as to not miss a shed that blends in with oak leaves, or miss a large community scrape on the edge of thick cover. I use binoculars during this time of year as much as, if not more than, any other time! I think most people can relate to seeing a stick across the other side of the hill that looks just like an antler, only to walk all the way over to be disappointed. A quick glance with my Maven B.3 8x30s can confirm or deny my suspicions rather than wasting time and energy hiking over to investigate. For those of you in farm country, you can cover a field much easier by glassing, rather than walking every last bit. Corn stalks can get your heart pumping for a second…
"I typically walk in excess of 200 miles in March and April trying to better understand mountain bucks...I use binoculars during this time of year as much as, if not more than, any other time!"
As the trees begin to bud and the forest starts to turn green, my allergies aren’t the only thing that starts to heat up. Turkey season opens across the country and toms are fired up gobbling throughout the valleys. Because I get enough time sitting in a treestand in November, I choose the run and gun style of turkey hunting, running ridges with an attempt to locate a bird. Eastern turkeys are smart and rely on incredible vision. You won’t catch me walking out into an open field or big timber ridge without covering every square inch of it with my optics. Farm country hunters can utilize their hours sitting in the blind to continually glass fields and shadows of tree line for movement. As the summer progresses, my anticipation grows along with the velvet antlers of bucks. In August, I get a lot of enjoyment from watching bachelor bucks feeding in bean fields. As the sun begins to set, I rest my arms on the window of my truck looking through my binoculars dreaming of what my fall season might bring. In addition to glassing fields in farm country, you can do the same in the big woods regions of Appalachia by glassing power and gas lines. Newer logging cuts with green grasses and browse are also a hot spot for watching in the evenings. Even in the thickest of areas, you can locate deer from afar using your binoculars and/or a spotting scope on a tripod.
When leaves start changing colors and cooler weather sets in, this is the time of year that we whitetail hunters dream about - it’s finally deer season. I’ve discussed off-season uses of optics for a deer hunter, but there’s no better time than hunting season itself. Whether you are sitting on a field edge in the midwest or up on a heavily timbered ridge, your binoculars can be a vital tool in your toolbox. The advantages of using optics while hunting fields are pretty obvious, but what about the big woods? In thicker areas, my optics play an important role in how I hunt. Whitetail hunters are primarily stationary so it’s not uncommon to observe the same area for the entire day. Instead of sitting there, practice picking apart the environment around you, because it doesn’t take long for your mind to start playing tricks on you, even at close distances. At first light, I like to glass areas of thick cover looking for a flicker of an ear or flash of antlers from a hidden buck that may have bedded down in the area before it was light enough to see. A quality pair of optics with a good ratio between magnification and objective lens will allow you to see better in low light than with your naked eye. Furthermore, having binoculars conveniently located on your chest rather than in your pack or hanging around the tree will increase your odds at actually using them and will help to minimize any movement.
"I value a binocular’s field of view above magnification. I prefer to see a wider view through my optics rather than every little detail that you gain from a higher magnification."
When choosing optics for whitetail hunting, I consider a few things. First off, I need something light and compact that won’t be a burden to carry all day. If they are too heavy and cumbersome, I won’t use them. Secondly, I value a binocular’s field of view above magnification. I prefer to see a wider view through my optics rather than every little detail that you gain from a higher magnification. Lastly, I want an optic that performs well in low light so I can pick apart the shadows. Low light capability doesn’t usually fare well with compact sizes, however the Maven B.3 8x30 binoculars are my go-to for all hunting scenarios on the east coast. They are light, compact, and have a good field of view at 8x magnification. With a 30mm objective lens, they do well in low light scenarios when I need them the most. And, with extra-low dispersion (ED) glass, they offer an exceptional edge clarity.
In conclusion, make the most out of your purchase and discover the myriad of ways you can use your optics throughout the year. Whether you’re an eastern whitetail hunter hunting farmlands or cruising ridgelines in the Appalachians, you’ll soon wonder how you ever got through the year without them.
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