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    As most are saying here, it is never a necessity, however.....

    If you can make a spotting scope and rangefinder fit into your budget, I wouldn't leave home without them. It takes alot of time, money, and luck (in the draw) to get the opportunity to go out West on a hunt of any kind. If I can make it work in my budget, I do all I can to get the right equipment and do alot of research that will help me stack the odds in my favor.

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    A rangefinder is a tool I wouldn't antelope without. Making long shots is one of the more difficult aspects of antelope hunting and accurate ranging is very key and there are great options for $350 or less. It is also key for planning stalks in what often looks like featureless country.

    Spotting scopes are something you will find yourself going without if you are planning to hike much or are in a unit with more pressure on public where driving is useless after the first morning of the season. The other problem with spotting scopes is that you really need to spend $1,000 or more to get something that is usable beyond the lower half of the power range. I will gladly hunt with $300 binoculars or $300 rangefinders, but with spotting scopes they don't offer much lower end. You also will need to spend a few hundred dollars on a tripod that can make use of a spotting scope especially if you plan to pack it very far.

    If you are an outfitter, are trying to shoot a Boone and Crockett buck or have a great limited draw unit with limited pressure and can drive BLM roads and evaluate 100 bucks/day then a spotting scope is pretty critical.

  3. #28

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    Echoing everyone else, to the point where I lost my rangefinder in a moment of excitement my first year hunting pronghorn in WY and I didn't hesitate for a second buying a new one for the second trip. Pro-tip: Use a lanyard/tether on it.

  4. #29
    Join Date
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    Rangefinder Yes. Spotting Scope no.

  5. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frenchy View Post
    Rangefinder Yes. Spotting Scope no.
    This!

  6. #31
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    Jan 2013
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frenchy View Post
    Rangefinder Yes. Spotting Scope no.
    Agreed. If you are worried about score than bring a spotting scope. I would rank shooting sticks and a handheld gps (or cell phone) with On X Maps over a spotting scope. You want to be 100% on where you are shooting an animal.

  7. #32

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    I agree with the above, a range finder and On X maps are important. My spotter stays in the truck.

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    Don't leave the truck without OnX, binoculars, and a rangefinder.

  9. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by Keeptrying View Post
    Don't leave the truck without OnX, binoculars, and a rangefinder.
    Definitely!!!
    The day I stop hunting is the day I stop breathing.

    You can't eat antlers!!!

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    Thank you everyone for your responses. I will start researching range finders, and find something that fits my needs. Im partial to Vortex, so looking at the Ranger 1300. I can get it on Amazon for $299. Does anyone have experience with this unit?

  11. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by mtmuley View Post
    Helpful, yeah. Necessary? No. I'd bring a rangefinder before a spotting scope. mtmuley
    Great advice. 250 & 375 can look a lot alike in wide open country. Especially if it's not your usual terrain and you are unfamiliar with the size of your target. I'd never hunt antelope without a range finder and I've hunted them for 20 years.

  12. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by cwitherow View Post
    Thank you everyone for your responses. I will start researching range finders, and find something that fits my needs. Im partial to Vortex, so looking at the Ranger 1300. I can get it on Amazon for $299. Does anyone have experience with this unit?
    Yes, buy it. You'll be glad you did. Practice with it before go so it becomes second nature.

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    range finder ( I have sig kilo 2000 love it) took my first trip pronghorn hunting last year and was facing same problem .. glad I went with range finder if your not from the west chances are you cant grasp the open distance .

  14. #39

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    I just bought the Vortex Impact 850 a few months ago, i got a sweet deal on it at Scheels in Great Falls, they only had the display one left so it was only like $165!! I haven't gotten much of a chance to use it but did take it out with me on a hike here in MT up in the mountains a while back and ranged some random trees and such with it. In my opinion a rangefinder is definitely necessary out here, i also come from the mid-west as well and once you get out west the terrain tends to play tricks on you if you're not used to it. The Impact 850 seems like a solid rangefinder, but this fall we will really see how it holds up. With the VIP warranty its hard for me not to go with Vortex!

    Also one idea i would have for not carrying a spotter around with you on your pronghorn hunt would be to get a binocular adapter for a tripod, just setting your binos on a tripod and spotting with those helps a lot!
    Vortex makes one for like 20 bucks.
    I also have the Vortex Summit ss-p tripod, which for the price is a solid tripod imo, i think it cost me like $85 i believe
    Hope this helps
    "I would never marry a deer, ya know, but i do like 'em"
    - Steven Rinella

  15. #40
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    This is the most surprising hunting thread I have read in a LONG time. I am simply amazed at the preponderance of people that think a range finder is essential equipment today. I own one and use it occasionally while hunting but mostly I use it before hunting to practice range estimation in advance.

    The technology that made these possible is less than 20 yrs old. Some of you must have been hunting before then, so what has changed that this thing that didn't even exist in the beginning is now essential? Most of you are shooting incredibly flat shooting rifles which makes these even less of an essential tool. If you miss judge a distance by even 50 yds, heck, it's not likely to make a dimes worth of distance. I generally hunt with a .45-70 or .45-100 loaded with black powder and 500 gr paper patched bullets that depends a lot more on my range estimation to be effective. If I miss the rage by 20 yds on a 300 yds animal, the bullet will be close to 10 inches off target, yet I rate the range finder down there with - well, with nothing else. It's my least essential piece of gear. I'd much rather have a spotter - even if it is just my 50 mm Nikon HD, and for a Pronghorn hunt I really want my 82 mm Zeiss since it won't be packed far, if at all. But I, for sure, want a spotter capable of assessing horns at 1000 yds or further.

    The times change, and I tend not to, or at least I lag far behind. But this one still surprises me.

  16. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrentD View Post
    This is the most surprising hunting thread I have read in a LONG time. I am simply amazed at the preponderance of people that think a range finder is essential equipment today. I own one and use it occasionally while hunting but mostly I use it before hunting to practice range estimation in advance.

    The technology that made these possible is less than 20 yrs old. Some of you must have been hunting before then, so what has changed that this thing that didn't even exist in the beginning is now essential? Most of you are shooting incredibly flat shooting rifles which makes these even less of an essential tool. If you miss judge a distance by even 50 yds, heck, it's not likely to make a dimes worth of distance. I generally hunt with a .45-70 or .45-100 loaded with black powder and 500 gr paper patched bullets that depends a lot more on my range estimation to be effective. If I miss the rage by 20 yds on a 300 yds animal, the bullet will be close to 10 inches off target, yet I rate the range finder down there with - well, with nothing else. It's my least essential piece of gear. I'd much rather have a spotter - even if it is just my 50 mm Nikon HD, and for a Pronghorn hunt I really want my 82 mm Zeiss since it won't be packed far, if at all. But I, for sure, want a spotter capable of assessing horns at 1000 yds or further.

    The times change, and I tend not to, or at least I lag far behind. But this one still surprises me.
    Assessing distance on flat terrain isn't exactly simple. Even with a flat shooter, distance is important. I'd rather know the range than guess any day. Also, I can use it to plan a stalk by ranging the landscape to determine where I need to get to for a shot. I hunted a lot without a rangefinder. Now it is a piece of gear I won't hunt without. Times change. mtmuley

  17. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtmuley View Post
    Assessing distance on flat terrain isn't exactly simple. Even with a flat shooter, distance is important. I'd rather know the range than guess any day. Also, I can use it to plan a stalk by ranging the landscape to determine where I need to get to for a shot. I hunted a lot without a rangefinder. Now it is a piece of gear I won't hunt without. Times change. mtmuley
    No, it is not. And that's why I practice. But that said, even with a generic .308, 30-60, or whatever, it really isn't THAT important. 'lope is still dead.

    Edit: Just to be clear, "No, it is not" refers to your first sentence. It is not simple. Not super complicated either, but harder than many might guess.
    Last edited by BrentD; 03-21-2018 at 12:47 PM.

  18. #43

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    Perhaps the psychology of "knowing" that it is 147 yards helps the triggerman be more focused, instead of thinking that "it is around 150 yards". Certainty of distance helps to control at least one of the myriad of variables in correctly sending a lethal shot downrange. I agree that 3 yards more or less won't make one whits bit of difference in a specific outcome, but the confidence of "knowing" is valuable.
    No one can go back and make a brand new start, however anyone can start from now and make a new ending.

  19. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrentD View Post
    No, it is not. And that's why I practice. But that said, even with a generic .308, 30-60, or whatever, it really isn't THAT important. 'lope is still dead.

    Edit: Just to be clear, "No, it is not" refers to your first sentence. It is not simple. Not super complicated either, but harder than many might guess.
    It is important no matter what you are shooting to know distance. Makes zero sense to have a rangefinder for "practice" and not use it in the field. mtmuley

  20. #45

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    I got my Bushnell 1000 in a Friends of NRA banquet drawing. I doubt I would have bought one myself. It's a pain to use, and even more so to carry along with binoculars, but it's definitely good to have. The thing is, you can't just buy one and all your problems are solved. You need to use it a lot while you're hunting. ESPECIALLY if you're hunting in terrain unfamiliar to you. Every time you stop to glass, range a bunch of trees, bushes, rocks, and whatnot; and make a guess beforehand each time. Eventually, you will get better at eyeballing range. I don't have much trouble in open country. I've shot competitively at ranges from 50 feet to 1,000 yards, so I have a pretty good idea of how much land is between me and that 1,000 yard target. The problem, for me, is ravines and canyons. I am generally surprised by distances across a steep valley, much more than on flat terrain. The most important thing, I think, is to shoot A LOT before the season, and be realistic about your capability. With my 7MM mag, I am good to a bit over 300 yards from a good rest; 200 from a sling-supported offhand or sitting position, although I will try very hard to avoid shooting from those if I can help it. With the .375 H&H I cut those ranges by 30% or so, just because I have a fixed 4x scope, as opposed to a 3-9x.

    Last fall I was hunting a BMA area, looking for a whitetail. I jumped three does and a little 2X3 buck while I was walking in on a closed road. I tried to let the buck go, but the third time he stopped broadside to look at me, and stood there long enough for me to range him at 216 yards, I thought, "The gene pool is better off without this one". There was quite a bit of tall grass along the road, so a sitting position or prone on the bipod was right out. I slung up and took an offhand shot that punched both lungs. He took one jump and dropped. The reason I was confident enough to take that shot was due to years of shooting NRA Highpower Rifle competition, where the first stage is 200 yards offhand with open sights and no sling, and positive confirmation of the range. I wouldn't have taken the shot without a rangefinder, and I wouldn't have taken it with the .375.

    Now that I have hunted with a rangefinder, I would replace it if it died. I don't feel a need to upgrade it. I am saving my nickels to get a spotting scope before fall, as the binoculars really aren't cutting it for spotting bedded muleys in the sagebrush.

  21. #46
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    scubohuntr, you are so right about the ravines and canyons and their effects on judging distance. I struggle with this a lot and practice with my rangefinder before and while I am hunting.

    I am saving my nickels to get a spotting scope before fall, as the binoculars really aren't cutting it for spotting bedded muleys in the sagebrush.
    There is a nice one for sale in the classifieds... (and, yes, I know the guy selling it).

  22. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Reeltime View Post
    Great advice. 250 & 375 can look a lot alike in wide open country. Especially if it's not your usual terrain and you are unfamiliar with the size of your target. I'd never hunt antelope without a range finder and I've hunted them for 20 years.
    Yup. And if you hunt deer in desert country it is no different. Rangefinder is a great tool. Being able to know the range and have your drops is the reponsible thing to do, not to mention that a massive amount of work may go into one chance at a nice animal, putting the odds in your favor just makes sense.

  23. #48
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    The difference between a range finder and spotter, as essential equipment is that you can teach yourself to judge distances better. It's not easy but it is a skill - like breaking the trigger properly, it is an acquired skill but very doable. There is no way you can train your eyeballs to do 40x.

    I'll take the spotter over the range finder every time.

  24. Default

    I will never be able to tell the difference between 320 and 370.

    40 and 60? You bet. Longer distances I just don't think I ever will.

  25. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keeptrying View Post
    I will never be able to tell the difference between 320 and 370.

    40 and 60? You bet. Longer distances I just don't think I ever will.

    From my own practice at ranging, I find I can get pretty good at it out to 300 yds. I can learn to compensate for certain landscape features that introduce biases and generally get within +/- 10 yards. For the types of rifles I shoot, I need that degree of precision on deer/antelope sized animals. But for the types of rifles most folks shoot, how much difference does 320 vs 370 really make? I would guess really not much. And, judging from Randy's videos, the need to take shots over 370 are really not very common anyway. I certainly have never needed to shoot out to even 300, not even for antelope. There is pretty much always a way.

    So, it's not that range finders aren't nice toys, but one can do very well without one by developing skills. But you just can't make your eyes go 40x, no matter how hard you practice.

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