Look Everywhere, All The Time! – Big Game Glassing Tips
In order to have an opportunity at harvesting a western big game animal, one must find the animal first.
It wasn’t until I moved to an area of the US and was able to spend time glassing for animals almost every week of the year that I truly understood the art of glassing. In addition, a recent trip to Alaska in search of Barren Ground Caribou taught me a lot on how to glass for animals as well.
When all you have is your eyes to find animals in the vast open tundra, you quickly learn how important glassing techniques are to being successful on a hunt. A very experienced guide in Alaska told me that one of the key elements to being a great hunter is to ‘be looking everywhere all the time’.
It sounds simple enough, however, there are many challenges that come along with spotting animals. That said, I would like to provide some ‘glassing’ tips to help overcome these challenges and help in spotting animals that I have learned over the years.
It takes a tremendous amount of discipline to glass for animals. Some days, on some hunts you may need to glass for hours on end, even all day. This becomes increasingly difficult when the weather is poor, the animal movement is slower, fatigue sets in, distractions are present…etc.
Having the discipline to continue glassing throughout an entire day requires mental and physical toughness. It is so easy to want to take breaks, move locations completely, cover more ground, check your phone, daydream…etc. when things aren’t going your way. It is important to stay focused on the task at hand as the animal you are in search of could be right in front of you and you just can see him yet.
Envisioning that once in a life-time animal and reminding yourself constantly of what it will take to find this animal helps me stay disciplined. Getting proper rest, staying hydrated, and having snacks on hand also assists in staying focused.
Boredom and frustration can set in if you are not finding what you are looking for. Continue to remind yourself of what your goals are for the hunt and to always take the time throughout the day to appreciate the beauty of the land, the animals you’re after and the great company you are with on the hunt. Slow Down – taking your time and not rushing the act of searching for animals will increase your odds of finding what you are looking for.
Having a good pair of binoculars and a good spotting scope are essential components to spotting animals in the field. I personally use the Burris ……10×42 binoculars and the ………Burris spotting scope.
I also suggest using a glassing platform to remain steady and allow you to glass for longer durations of time if needed. I recommend using a stable tripod of some kind that can be adjusted for both binoculars and spotting scopes (this is not always possible on certain hunts). The use of a Phone Skope has been really helpful to me as well.
Choosing the best possible location to glass from is a critical comment in locating animals. Look for high points in the topography as this typically allows for the largest field of view. Choose areas that animals cannot easily see you. Choose areas that you have views of draws, open hill sides, open meadows…..etc.
Glassing during first and last light will also increase your chances of spotting animals as they are typically up and feeding at this time. Once you have found a great location to glass from, ensure you can get into a comfortable position. You may be there a while.
What to look for
It is important to train your eyes to look for certain things when glassing. Things that I look for specifically in trying to spot animals are horizontal lines (could be a back line of an animal), movement (body movement, antler movement, leg movement, any movement), ears, legs, a certain color that represents the animal, areas that I feel would hold animals…etc.
Using certain techniques to search for animals can improve your chances of spotting one. I first scan an area in general with binoculars. I start out very wide in my approach to begin with. I then pick out a specific section of my general view. Maybe a certain square, valley, sidehill…etc. I then use the gridding technique with binoculars to scan the more specific area.
Gridding is a technique where you pick a certain frame in your scope and you scan the frame in a grid-type fashion. For example, left to right like a typewriter all the way down until you reach the end of the frame. At that point, I then switch to the spotting scope and grid the same specific areas using a much higher power. Still looking for movement, horizontal lines, certain colors…etc. while scanning the frame.
If nothing is located, I then move to a different location, I then begin the process over again and switch back to binos. Sometimes I only move several feet in any given direction. It doesn’t take much to change your perspective completely.
Once I spot an animal that could use a closer look, I switch to the spotting scope and zoom in very quickly in order to judge the animal.
I hope these glassing tips help you find the big game animal of a lifetime!
And remember, ‘Look Everywhere, All the Time!’
Steve’s Outdoor Adventures