10 Tips to Up Your Glassing Game
As humans, aside from our big brains, we rely on our eyes for most our predatory success. Want to exponentially increase opportunities in the field? It’s time to get glassing.
Need some steadier hands to glass better? Remember to brace yourself whenever possible to eliminate handshake.
Below are 10 simple tips to up your glassing game, and bring more game to the table.
1. Open up – (not emotionally): Glass openings from afar and before you enter them. They are great places to spot game, and nothing is more frustrating than spooking your quarry when it’s within striking distance. Game gravitates to open areas for a variety of reasons. An opening can be as big as a clear cut or agriculture field and as small as a meadow in the timber. For a turkey, utilizing these spaces might be food-related, or to strut and display. For a deer, the browse may be lush and diverse. Openings have hard edges. They are focal points where multiple habitats converge - and so do the animals that live there. (For more tips on where to glass, check out this blog.)
2. Brace yourself: If you’re not using a tripod, there’s a few things you can do to stabilize binoculars during hand-held glassing sessions. Turning the brim of your ball cap into a hand hold will stabilize your view and help eliminate arm fatigue. Take a seat. This will get you way more stable than standing, as well as gets you in an optimal position to brace your elbows on top of your legs. If terrain or brush dictates standing, tuck your elbows into your chest.
3. Three legs are better: Few things will make you a better glasser than a tripod. And if you’re already carrying one for your spotting scope, integrating a binocular tripod-adapter adds virtually zero weight to your kit. A tripod (preferably with a pan-head) better allows you to methodically evaluate expansive country, cuts muscle fatigue considerably, makes spotting subtle movement much easier, and lets you stay on a subject once found. You can even pull your head out of your glass to relax for a second, talk your buddy into what you’ve found, get visual bearings on the landscape to plan a stalk all the while knowing when you dip your head back in, your subject will still be in or near your field of view.
It can be easy to fall into a pattern, glassing top to bottom, left to right. To prevent your mind from going on autopilot, and to stay sharp, mix up your glassing pattern.
4. Take what you learned reading - and stop: Ok, not completely. We read left-to-right, so make a point at times to scan from right-to-left. Admittedly, I find this hard to do. It just doesn’t feel natural –that’s why it works. It takes your brain off autopilot and forces you to see terrain and what may be hiding in it differently, with greater attention to detail.
5. We covered reading, so let’s talk math: Your glassing should have an order of operations. Hit high percentage spots first. When you begin glassing, start with spots known to hold game. After that, work from the inside out in hopes of finding animals closer in proximity to your location within shooting range, stalking range, or inclined to spook due to your presence. Early and late in the day when game is likely on the move, it’s good to give the extreme edges of the country you’re glassing a priority look. You may just catch an animal you want to go after just as it goes over the hill.
6. “What’s your favorite planet? Mine’s the sun.” (Saturday Night Live.) Deer can be shady characters. When it’s hot and the sun is blazing, we seek shade and peel off layers. The game you’re after may be doing the exact same thing. Well, not peeling off layers. If conditions are like this, glass shady spots. Conversely, on cool days, deer may be intentionally capturing the sun’s rays to warm up. Glassing hillsides and faces that get early sun may be the ticket to finding animals looking to heat their mammalian bodies after a cold night. They will also be much easier to spot, as they will likely be standing, moving, and seemingly glowing in the morning sun. (Do a lot of glassing in the early hours? Check out this blog on what makes for great low-light performance.)
7. In the timber and can’t see more than 100 yards? Perfect: Glassing in the timber or densely vegetated terrain is an under implemented tactic - particularly when “still hunting” and moving at a snail’s pace. (Want to learn more about still hunting? Check out this 10-Minute Talk.) You will be able to spot minute details and pieces of game standing or bedded. What may look like a wall of trees and brush with the naked eye, could become a buck or bull in a tight shooting lane the second you put your binos up. From a concealment perspective, the same things that prevent you from seeing a game animal obscure you from them. The key is evening the visual-acuity odds and seeing them first.
Don’t forget that glassing is about more than just your optics. Make sure to protect yourself from the environment, and from the sun, so you stay comfortable and in the field.
8. Get low: Wait, all I ever hear is I need to get to high point to glass? That is a damn good tip, but in some scenarios, losing a bit of elevation to see over the roll of a hill allows you to spot game right under your nose. These animals might not even be far off the beaten path, but feel secure, in their open, out of sight hidey-hole because no one ever bothers them. So, go bother them. Inevitably, you can’t see everything from a single location. Even minor changes in perspective will reveal country worth a hard look—and possibly the trophy of a lifetime.
9. Comfort is key: A glassing pad for your hindquarters will protect you from sharp rocks, sticks, cactus, keep you dry, and insulate you from the ground. Quietly clearing out an area of debris can help if you don’t have a pad – but be careful. Depending on where you’re hunting, there could be undesirable critters like ants, spiders, scorpions, and snakes living under the rocks, logs, and bark you disturb. It’s tough to concentrate on the task at hand when all you can think about is the rock drilling itself into your body – or being bit by a snake.
10. “The sun don’t bother me” (A River Runs Through It): Well, it bothers me when it’s not working in my favor… When glassing, you can spend hours in the same spot – particularly if you are keeping tabs on an animal your hunting partner is making a move on – all the while that glorious ball of fire and gas beats down on your skin with reckless abandon. Hopefully in this scenario, you have a lightweight hoodie you can pull over your head. If you don’t have one, get one. Other coverage options include deploying a shemagh (ultralight stylish and operator), a towel your sig-other won’t miss, or even an extra tee-shirt.
The optics you employ, the landscape, game pursued, and how you pursue said game will dictate the best glassing tactics for a given scenario. Keep the above tips in mind on your next trip, shoot straight and stay glassy Vortex Nation.
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