May 17, 2021
By Florida Sportsman Editor
Learn the ins and outs of this crucial piece of hunting gear.
Binoculars and hunting. Two words that should be synonymous to the modern-day hunter, no matter where you are in the world. Some may have thoughts of sitting on mountain nob in the Montana backcountry and “glassing” a drainage basin for elk, when thinking about binoculars. But even in the swampand-scrub of Florida, a good pair of binos will help you absorb your surroundings more efficiently and ultimately make you a better hunter.
Let’s go over the basics.
There are two types of binoculars, roof prism style and porro prism style. The easiest way to tell the difference is the eye cup is in line with the objective lens on roof prism style, whereas porro prism is offset. This is due to their different build construction. Most hunting binoculars you will find are the roof prism style, due to their sleek and ergonomic design.
8X42, 6X30, 12X50. What do those numbers on the focus wheel mean? The first number followed by the X is the magnification. So, using the first example above, the object you’re looking at should be eight times magnified. The average consumer binoculars range from as low as 5X to as high as 15X. Being that Florida is pretty flat, chances are you’re not glassing over a half-mile. A good pair of 8X or 10X binos is more than sufficient.
The second number is the diameter of the objective lens (the “front” of the binos) in millimeters. Why does this matter? The larger the diameter, the more light allowed in, allowing you to see more in low-light conditions If you’re doing a lot of low-light hunting, you’ll want a bigger diameter. I prefer a 42mm.
Lens coatings also play a role in light absorption. This is a thin chemical coating applied to the lens that helps reduce glare, in turn allowing more light in. Most quality binos nowadays are “fully multi-coated,” meaning that all lenses throughout the pair have multiple layers of chemical coating.
One big thing to look for when purchasing a pair of binoculars is that they are waterproof and fog proof. Between our high chance of precipitation daily and the humidity in Florida, any bit of moisture intrusion can be detrimental to a pair of binos.
Now that you have the right pair of binos, it’s time to focus them.
First, if you’re wearing glasses, don’t open the eyecups. If you aren’t wearing glasses, be sure to open them.
With the binoculars up to your face, close your right eye and look at something with your left, turn the focus wheel until it is in focus. Now close your left eye and look at the same object, while adjusting the diopter (the small dial at the top of one of the bino barrels) until the object is in focus. Everything should be in focus now. The diopter allows you to compensate for the difference between your two eyes. Going forward, don’t worry about messing with the diopter, you will only have to adjust the focus wheel.
There are a few accessories that can help you a lot when in the field. A good binocular harness is essential. This allows your binos to be on your chest and accessed easily, but also allows them to be covered from the elements when need be. Clip them in and you’ll never have to worry about them falling out when traversing some rough country, even if you forget to close the pouch.
A tripod can be a huge help if you’re planning on glassing an area for an extended period of time. This allows for less movement and avoids fatigue, plus it’s very steady when looking at long distances. A popular accessory lately has been phone mounts. This allows you to clip up your phone camera to the eyecup and look at your screen instead of through the optics. A great piece of equipment if you don’t have the best eyesight and also helps with straining of your eyes. You can even snap photos or video of the game you are looking at. These do work best on a steady tripod. FS
Florida Sportsman Magazine February 2021