By Will Jenkins
Many whitetail hunters assume that quality binoculars are meant for western hunters that spend a solid portion of their day glassing hill sides and valleys for an animal they want to make a stalk on. They overlook the importance of quality binoculars for whitetail hunting. Because of this perception when whitetail hunters choose their optics they often don’t spend much and end up with low quality optics that don’t perform well for their needs.
While you may not need the same power binoculars as a western hunter having quality binoculars can change how you hunt whitetails and how much more you see while on stand. Today’s premium binoculars offer crystal clear viewing and extremely good low light performance. Low light dispersion glass makes it easier to see movement and identify animals especially at distance when animals are most active at dawn and dusk.
Part of being a successful hunter is understanding how deer behave and utilize the land you are hunting. Being able to see more of that activity will help immensely not only while hunting but when scouting. Archery hunters while they won’t be shooting the same distance as rifle hunters discount the need for being able to see clearly at distance. Being able to identify a target early can make all the difference in how you set up your shot and get into position. Likewise, gun hunters often resort to looking through their scope when it’s not the best way to view animals and requires a lot more movement potentially alerting nearby wildlife.
The exact specifications of the binoculars that will best suit you will depend on the type of hunting. For most whitetail hunters a 8x binocular will probably get you close enough to whatever you are viewing. If you tend to hunt mostly large open fields hundreds of yards long you may even want to move to a 10x.
While the first number is magnification and easy to understand as the field of view will appear 8 times closer or 10 times closer the objective diameter is just as important especially for low light performance. For best performance in low light you’ll want an exit pupil between 4 and 7mm. You can calculate exit pupil by dividing the objective lens by the magnification. A common binocular set up for whitetails is 8×42 which offers an exit pupil of 5.25mm. Of similar importance to the exit pupil is the quality of the glass. Springing for extra-low light dispersion glass will increase the price a bit but will make them immensely more useful when you need them most.
As you’re scouting and prepping for your next whitetail hunt, take a long hard look at your binoculars. Are they performing how they should, especially in low light? What keys to success might you be missing by not having the proper optics for your hunting style?