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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/02/2011 at 11:33
nwebman View Drop Down
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Hey guys/gals.  New here as you can see and I'm TRYING to do some research on the best spotter I can afford, but have been VERY frustrated trying to find some honest reviews until I came across this mecca of optic information.  I look forward to hearing what you guys have to say.  I've read through quite a few of the older posts and have learned quite a bit already.  About 2 weeks ago I started with literally zero knowledge of any optics whatsoever seeing as how I am primarily a bow hunter.  I'm from Nebraska and am planning on going after some muledeer/antelope in the western part of the state on some spot and stalk hunts where a spotter is needed...which is why I'm here.  I don't have much money....three very young kids, yadda yadda yadda.  We are all hurting.  You don't need my sob story.  I'm looking for something that will allow me to count points on a muledeer out to 400-500 yds, and even then it doesn't have to be crystal clear.  All I want to be able to do is be able to figure out what I'm going to go after.  I honestly don't give a rat's petunia about seeing bullet holes at longer distances just because I won't be doing any long range shooting.  I'm not too concerned about weight, but don't want to be carrying around a cinder block if I don't have to.  I have quite a few random questions and if anybody has any more for me send em along and I'll try to answer them.
 
* In the <$400.  I realize I probably have my head in the clouds for what I want out of a scope in this price range, but if anybody knows if it is possible I figured it would be one of you guys on here.
 
*Do most people who are packing their scope on a walk-in hunt stick to the 60mm lense range because of weight/size?  Or do people carry around the 80mm as well?
 
*The Vortex Skyline seems to have some good reviews.  Worth spending "a little more" on one of the 80 mms?  (I'm pretty sure I know the answer to this one Big Smile)
 
*What constitutes as a "good" or "sturdy" tripod?  I've read that some scopes require one and don't know where the line between "sturdy" and "rickety" is.
 
*Anybody ever hear of Zuhmell Spotting Scopes?  Are they about as good as flipping a pint glass over and looking through it or are they actually decent?  Or am I a sinner for even mentioning them?
 
I'm sure I'll have some more questions, and I'll be sure to ask them when the time comes.  Thanks in advance for your help.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/02/2011 at 13:21
Johnny View Drop Down
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I have an older Bausch & Lomb elite that's 15-45 X 60. It works OK, and it's not  huge for your back pack.
Several other companies offer scopes in this power range that should work fine. I don't want an 80 MM  scope in my back pack.  With an atv or Jeep it would be fine. There are scopes in the $400 dollar range that should do what you want. Look at the sample list.
Some probably focus easier than others and that is something else to think about. When you're using a tripod, an easy turning focusing knob that is not to fast or slow is important. The higher priced scopes have more clarity at higher power than the cheaper scopes do, but to glass 400-500 yards a $400 scope should work.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/02/2011 at 16:10
neilbilly View Drop Down
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Welcome


This model from Yukon had very good reviews in one of the mags I subscribe to. 

http://swfa.com/Yukon-16-45x60-Firefall-Spotting-Scope-P10793.aspx


I'll dig around and see which mag, "no promises, it might have been pitched already since if memory serves me it was about a year ago" but I remember it being a side by side with spotters under $200 and it won. 


I'm sure others here can help with opinions from hands on with gear in your price ball park. 

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/02/2011 at 16:47
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That is sort of a restrictive range.  For your budget needs I would look at one of the Bishnell Legend Ultra ED models.  After that I'd look at a Leupold Gold Ring 15-30x50, or maybe even Leupold first.  They have outstanding service and warranty.  You can go there and stay under $400 and get a good scope.  I have a Bushnell of the aforementioned flavor in 13-36x50.  It is decent and one of its bigger brothers would maybe be a good bet.
 
As far as a tripod, just get on the phone and call SWFA and see what they recommend.  The tripod selection can be as daunting as the scope selection.
 
EDIT:
 
Should have said earlier, but will now.  Spend that money on binoculars first.  You will get 10 times more use out of a good binocular over a spotter.


Edited by Klamath - January/02/2011 at 17:54
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/02/2011 at 18:08
neilbilly View Drop Down
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Klamath makes some good points. Thunbs Up "thanks man, Spotters are really not my strong point at all"

Hope the hunt out west goes well, and that you find the right gear for what you want to do. 


Keep us posted. 

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/02/2011 at 20:02
nwebman View Drop Down
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Originally posted by Klamath Klamath wrote:

That is sort of a restrictive range.  For your budget needs I would look at one of the Bishnell Legend Ultra ED models.  After that I'd look at a Leupold Gold Ring 15-30x50, or maybe even Leupold first. 
 
I know it's restrictive.  I'm difficult by nature.   I know that because I hear it from my wife on a daily basis.  I've looked at the Bushnells online, but kind of got scared of the Leupold name just because I foolishly priced them out of my range without even looking.  Thanks for the heads up.  Just like most things in life you get what you pay for when it comes to these things.  I'm not in a hurry yet, but I want to do some research so I don't feel rushed into a purchase when the time comes.  I do have a pair of Bushnell binos that I'm quite pleased with.  Don't even know the model name, but they have always been pretty clear, or at least clear enough for me.  If I knew anything about optics I'd probably use them to chock my tires in the driveway and buy a new pair, but they keep me satisfied for now.  I have yet to still physically even look through a spotting scope, and I have purpously not done so in an effort to eliminate the possibility of looking through a scope out of my range and getting my hopes up.  I will definitely take a look at the models you mentioned.  I really appreciate your help.  I don't really live too close to any decent sporting goods stores so it might be a little while before I do even get a chance to peek through a couple, but I will appreciate all of the help/advice I can get in the mean time.  Thanks again.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/02/2011 at 20:04
nwebman View Drop Down
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....and neilbilly.....best....signature....ever.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/02/2011 at 20:08
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In your price range the Leupold Golden Ring (15-30x50) would be a good choice.  This is the scope I own for backpacking trips.

Minox makes a similar (16-30x50) compact scope in their MD50 which is available in both a straight and an angled version.
 
The mentioned (15-45x60) Bushnell Elite is also pretty good, though it has very short eye relief.
 
Bushnell has their (15-45x60) Excursion FLP as well as their (15-45x60) Legend Ultra HD, both of which would be very serviceable options.
 
I know of only a few people who (claim to) pack their 80mm scopes on their backs.  I certainly won't do that. Even if the weight doesn't bother you, they take up way too much space in a pack to be viable.
 
As far as tripods go, I use a Manfrotto 728B with my 80mm Elite and it works just fine.  It doesn't pan anywhere near smooth enough for video purposes, but I don't do video.
 
I have yet to find a really good, reasonably-inexpensive, lightweight tripod for backpacking.  Right now I have just been using a variety of cheapo (sub-$50) units like the ones you find at the camera section at Walmart.  They do the job, but are far from ideal.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/03/2011 at 16:14
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Lucznik mentioned the Bushnell Excurision FLP ED spotters in his post, and having used my buddy's 60mm Excursion extensively this past weekend I still find it amazingly good for $250 or so.  On par with the non hd Leupold 60mm gold ring for sure.  
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/03/2011 at 17:21
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I like the Bushy FLPs as well.

I do backpack an 85mm scope, and it is way more doable than you would think, but I am currently looking into other backpack-specific options.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/03/2011 at 18:48
neilbilly View Drop Down
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Thanks Nwebman. 


I think you'll enjoy hanging around here. We've got some folks that really know optics, and the rest of us keep them entertained. Clown

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/04/2011 at 09:04
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I'll second the recommendation for a manfrotto tripod.  Probably not the lightest for backpacking, but well worth the money.  Most spotting scopes are bigger, heavier, and longer than the average camera, unless you really use long lenses.  You want a set of legs and a good head under your scope so it's sturdy and still.  Going to cheap will frustrate you and not allow you to truely enjoy your scope, especially at higher powers.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/04/2011 at 14:48
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nwebman - for hiking I'd look no bigger than a 60-62mm scope. I walk n stalk for all my hunting, and I take a very hard look at weight and bulk. Personally, I would not look at an 80mm spotting scope (to walk with) because the weight and bulk penalties are just too high imho. There is almost a lb difference between a 50mm and a 60mm. In practice, imho you can get good performance with a 50mm up to 25x, and up to 30x with a 60mm. Above that, magnification quickly becomes meaningless. For instance, 60x on a 60mm is pretty much useless. So don't look at magnification as the primary measure. As you can see, there is not a huge loss when you go from 60mm to 50mm (only going from 30x to 25x) so I would definitely consider a 50mm spotter.

Good tripods are heavy. I decided to go another way, and I stalk with a gorillapod, very light but short, needs something to put it on. I am also experimenting with a stedi-stock. Clearly they are not as steady as a 3 lb tripod, but, if you walk everywhere you go, you have to make choices.

Another possibility for you is to get a 15x50 vortex binocular (heavily discounted right now) and mount it on a gorillapod tripod - you won't get to 30x but the weight penalty is small, and seeing in 3D makes a big difference.

Good luck -
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/04/2011 at 21:39
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Welcome to the OT nwe!  +1 Vortex
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