Hits and Misses

Hits and Misses

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Barsness, Modern Hunting Optics

In Modern Hunting Optics (Deep Creek Press, 2014; www.RiflesAndRecipes.com), John Barsness has done much more than simply update his previous Optics for the Hunter (1999).  His new book is at once comprehensive, treating scopes, binoculars, rangefinders, red dot sights, and, even more important, systematic. Instead of buying a scope right off the bat, Barsness recommends getting a good hunting binocular, next a rangefinder, and only then a scope.  His reasoning is clear and  convincing (and no, I'm not going to tell you what it is).

Following his procedure results in an optics system that works together and becomes more than the sum of its parts, or synergistic.  Nearly as important, this system need not break your budget:  Barsness writes persuasively about optics other than those carrying European names, ones which work well and cost much less, and he describes a method of testing them that anyone can replicate--and should, for each of us sees a bit differently. 

Quibbles or caveats?  None . . . well, perhaps a footnote on a minor point.  Although Barsness mentions using a tripod for really high-powered binoculars, he doesn't mention the advantages of using a tripod for binoculars of lesser power, say 8X or 10X.  But, as I found on a black bear hunt one spring in Idaho, using a tripod with an adaptor for my Pentax DCF SP 8x43, not only did the stability of the tripod enable me to determine that each distant bear was in fact a stump, but it enabled me to glass longer without getting fatigued.  So, when debating between two binoculars, I'd suggest buying the one that takes a tripod adaptor.

Anyone even thinking about a new pair of binoculars or a scope or a spotting scope would be well advised to spend $25 on Modern Hunting Optics.  You will learn a lot, and if you follow his recommendations you'll almost certainly save a lot.   If you are fortunate enough to be in the top 1%, by definition money is no object.  For the other 99% of us, we want to buy the best we can afford.  John Barsness tells how to do precisely that.  If you shop carefully, you can put together a complete optical hunting system for about $1500.  Modern Hunting Optics is thus an investment well worth making.  That it's a pleasure to read is the icing on the cake.

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