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Thread: Sheep Scope

  1. #1
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    Sheep Scope

    Hey guys,

    I know this is a gear question but I wanted to post it here because I want opinions from the sheep hunters. I am gearing up to hunt stone sheep in BC (just moved here this summer, so I plan on hunting sheep every year for awhile) and I am trying to figure out what spotter to get. I am counting every gram as I will most likely be hunting solo on many trips. I understand that some items the extra weight is worth it and I am wondering if this is treu with a spotter.

    So what size scope do you guys recommend? Some guys are packing lightweight 50mm scopes and others and bringing pigs that let them count rings from far and save on hiking. Is this a personal preference or is there a general consensus among sheep hunters?

    My thoughts right now are to wait for a Nikon Fieldscope ED 82 20-75x and also pick up a ED50. The eye piece would be interchangeable between the two and this would give me good glass at a reasonable price. Or I could just buy a kowa 663 and have one do all scope.

    So what do you guys with experience say?

    P.S. Sorry mods if this must be moved to optics section I just wanted sheep opinions.

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    First, congrats on getting to Smithers! Spent Sunday night there. With region 6 Stone's, I'd have a scope that went to 60x and was 65mm. (Give or take a bit, I like my Swaro 20-60 x 65 mm HD). I don't know the size and weight on the 82mm Nikon. It sounds like a fine sheep scope if you can carry the weight and have room for the volume. I've got the Nikon ED 50 too and it is a nice scope for deer, moose, bears, etc but I don't use it on sheep......preferring more optic than 30x and 50mm. YMMV but a lot of our region 6 rams run below the bridge of the nose but are over 8 yrs old, making them legal.....but tricky....so I hunt 9 year olds or more if determining legality off age only. Good luck with your scope choice and BC hunting!
    Last edited by Blockcaver; 1 Week Ago at 08:10 PM.

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    I've got a Zeiss 65 Diascope 15-56 power. Its all the scope I want to pack, or need for sheep hunting here in Alaska. Bigger is better but at some point I think there is a trade-off for usefulness. If I have to count rings, i have to be close anyway, and spotting dall sheep is rarely a dusk/dawn endeavor, its usually full daylight. The Zeiss is heavier than others however.

    I've used compact spotters in the past, they were not for me. Not enough power, and they get extremely dim when turned up, even on overcast days its tough to see very well at high power.

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    I know nothing about the Nikon so I can't comment

    But feel it's hard to beat a swaro 65mm for backpack sheep hunting. Or even the new one that you can run different obj.

    I have an 80mm swaro. We took the guides 65mm and it was great. In the earlier seasons with long days light gathering wasn't an issue

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    I have packed a few scopes in BC's mountains for decades and I currently have a Leica 62mm armoured, 16-48. It is a FINE scope optically as are the Zeiss and Swaros I have used. I prefer this little one as I am old, gimpy, too lazy to carry a bigger one and it meets my needs.

    I would only buy/own a Swaro-Zeiss-Leica spotter and bino, mine have been two Zeiss and a Leica bino and after years working to spot situations in the BCFS, AFS and Canadian Coast Guard, I won't use any but the BEST optics.

    Boots, optics, pack, sleeping rig, first and then the other gear.

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    I think it all boils down to personal preference and hunting style.

    For what it's worth, I have an ED82 and an ED50, with an MCII eyepiece. They are both fine scopes, but I take the ED82 even on solo sheep hunts. It weighs almost 3 pounds more than the ED50, but:
    1) in poor light, the ED82 substantially outperforms the ED50;
    2) in good light, you can use the ED82 at 75x, while the ED50 tops out at 40x.

    I'm still tempted to take the ED50 every time I hunt sheep, because I am a bit of a weight freak. But every time I start thinking that, I set them up side by side and convince myself once again that the ED82 really is that much better. The ED50 pretty much just goes on caribou hunts and birding hikes now.

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    Senior Member SLDMTN's Avatar
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    As someone coined on here, Snyd I believe, I've never been hiking up the hill wishing my pack was 2 lbs lighter. For me, I'll try to cut weight elsewhere than on my glass.

    Myself, like Bambistew, I run a 65mm objective, Swaro ATS 20-60x65 for me though.

    Stid, see his write-up "The Doubler" runs a Swaro ATX 95 (if I remember correctly) and has credited several kills to that spotter. I'm quite jealous of that glass but awfully glad I don't have to pack it as well.

    I don't know what your sheep hunting background is but here is my $0.02:

    For a beginning sheep hunter, I feel that 20-60x65 is a great benchmark to shoot for. It'll help you avoid some long hikes for sub legal rams and not weigh you down too badly. If you're experienced and can judge sheep really well from afar, run a small lightweight unit. If you're a sheep hunting, article writing legend like Stid , sit back, enjoy that ATX 95 and know I for one am jealous

    Sorry and to answer your original question, out of those scopes you listed as options, I would run the Kowa 663 or second choice the Nikon 82.

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    I have no intention of running a 50 mm spotter for sheep, maybe it is ok for goats and bear if I am not picky about size. I would only get a 50 mm scope if I also had a big heavy spotter. That way I would have both to choose from depending on my hunt and style I am doing.

    Reading Stid's stories and hearing Luke talk about his Zeiss 75x for sheep has me thinking about the larger heavier more powerful scope for sheep. I wanted to see if others guys packed these big spotters as well. Saving hours and effort of hiking by carrying an extra pound seems appealing.



    Quote Originally Posted by SLDMTN View Post
    As someone coined on here, Snyd I believe, I've never been hiking up the hill wishing my pack was 2 lbs lighter. For me, I'll try to cut weight elsewhere than on my glass.

    Myself, like Bambistew, I run a 65mm objective, Swaro ATS 20-60x65 for me though.

    Stid, see his write-up "The Doubler" runs a Swaro ATX 95 (if I remember correctly) and has credited several kills to that spotter. I'm quite jealous of that glass but awfully glad I don't have to pack it as well.

    I don't know what your sheep hunting background is but here is my $0.02:

    For a beginning sheep hunter, I feel that 20-60x65 is a great benchmark to shoot for. It'll help you avoid some long hikes for sub legal rams and not weigh you down too badly. If you're experienced and can judge sheep really well from afar, run a small lightweight unit. If you're a sheep hunting, article writing legend like Stid , sit back, enjoy that ATX 95 and know I for one am jealous

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    Senior Member SLDMTN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbob View Post
    I have no intention of running a 50 mm spotter for sheep, maybe it is ok for goats and bear if I am not picky about size. I would only get a 50 mm scope if I also had a big heavy spotter. That way I would have both to choose from depending on my hunt and style I am doing.

    Reading Stid's stories and hearing Luke talk about his Zeiss 75x for sheep has me thinking about the larger heavier more powerful scope for sheep. I wanted to see if others guys packed these big spotters as well. Saving hours and effort of hiking by carrying an extra pound seems appealing.
    Gotcha, I have a buddy that has guided 40+ dall sheep if I was to guess, and only runs a Leupold 40x Gold Ring. I'm sure half the time his hunters show up with better glass than he has haha. I can't judge sheep that well and I prefer not to hike if I don't have to.

    I think you're on the right track though, having both would sure be sweet. I will say though, I had a Nikon 16-48 that I loved dearly for weight and clarity to about 36x, I sold it after getting the Swaro. I'd rather pack 5 lbs that works than 2 lbs that doesn't work as well and I found myself constantly reaching for the bigger scope.

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    Senior Member SLDMTN's Avatar
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    I'm jealous of you being able to hunt stones in BC btw....

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    I have a Nikon ED 82, and I love it. There is simply no substitute for objective lense size. Get the best glass you can with the largest objective lense your willing to pack

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbob View Post
    I have no intention of running a 50 mm spotter for sheep, maybe it is ok for goats and bear if I am not picky about size. I would only get a 50 mm scope if I also had a big heavy spotter. That way I would have both to choose from depending on my hunt and style I am doing.

    Reading Stid's stories and hearing Luke talk about his Zeiss 75x for sheep has me thinking about the larger heavier more powerful scope for sheep. I wanted to see if others guys packed these big spotters as well. Saving hours and effort of hiking by carrying an extra pound seems appealing.
    Thanks for clarifying! If you're worried about the choice of the ED82 - well, don't worry too much. Check the birding forums (e. g. birdforum.net) and you'll find the optical quality is excellent. Check the weight and you'll see that an ED82 is not *too* much heavier than most 65 mm scopes. My straight ED82 weighs 1727g with the MCII eyepiece, that's 3 lbs. 13 oz. The ED82 is also known to be rugged and reliable.

    There are better scopes than an ED82 (but not many), there are lighter scopes, and there are cheaper scopes. But if you're on a budget, the ED82 is an excellent value. Do a search on here and you'll find others preaching the same for the ED82 and/or its 60mm brother the ED III.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bubblehide View Post
    I have a Nikon ED 82, and I love it. There is simply no substitute for objective lense size. Get the best glass you can with the largest objective lense your willing to pack
    Exactly - as a motorhead friend of mine says, "There's no replacement for displacement."

    All else being equal, the resolution of a spotting scope is controlled by the diffraction limit, which is directly proportional to objective lens size. There's no getting around it.

    Another important variable is exit pupil size, and that is also directly controlled by objective lens size. There's no getting around it!

  16. #14
    Senior Member adventure907's Avatar
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    There is some good advice here for sure. I sheep hunt with an 80 swaro. Sometimes when I am packing a heavy load, I wish maybe I had the 65mm, but really, the weight penalty is pretty negligible. One thing I will second that Bambistew mentioned, counting rings is not something done from afar, no matter what scope you have. Sure, sometimes if you see a bunch of rings stacked up near the bases from a considerable distance, you know you may have an older sheep. But if a guy is trying to count rings to determine legality, ya better be pretty darn close, and even then there is no guarantee.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bambistew View Post
    I've got a Zeiss 65 Diascope 15-56 power. Its all the scope I want to pack, or need for sheep hunting here in Alaska. Bigger is better but at some point I think there is a trade-off for usefulness. If I have to count rings, i have to be close anyway, and spotting dall sheep is rarely a dusk/dawn endeavor, its usually full daylight. The Zeiss is heavier than others however.

    I've used compact spotters in the past, they were not for me. Not enough power, and they get extremely dim when turned up, even on overcast days its tough to see very well at high power.

    This is exactly my opinion as well. Never looked the a Kowa but understand they are primo. I have used Swaro and Leica spotters and have owned a 65 Zeiss since 2001. I can still read the newspaper at 100 yards with it; they are the perfect compromise for the sheep hunter.

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    Thanks for all the opinions.

    Counting rings will be one of the large learning curves for me. In Ontario hunting is pretty simple, if you have a bull tag then it only needs antlers size or brow tines is irrelevant, same with deer. The idea of legal animals by age or head gear size is a completely new idea to me. I love it though, it feels more involved and demands a higher level of skill, intellect, and patience I think.

    Here is my next question, how close to count rings? Within shooting distance (400 yds and under)? Thanks again

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    Senior Member Daniel_M's Avatar
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    I've killed one ram, so my experience is limited to the range I hunted. 400 yards can even be tricky, the rams we glassed had a common growth theme in the range we hunted. Lighter colored horns, lighter colored annuli rings, higher curls (meaning not down to the jaw) and flared lamb tips.

    I think what glass does offer is a more definitive answer as to whether a specific ram is worthy of closing the gap on with potential to harvest. Some are obvious, others are not.

    On day 3 we saw a brute of a ram sky lining us as the sun came over the valley peaks, he was 412 yards above laying on a rocky outcropping. One second behind my 10x42s and I knew 100% he was a hammer. No spotter needed.

    The ram I killed was 10. I couldn't age him at ~1700 yards, however we knew 100% he was broomed on the left.

    Day 7
    This is a digiscoped 400yd ram that spend a few days with us behind camp, after we notched 2 tags. Just winging it, based on what we had judged leading up to seeing this ram, I would go as far to say this is a close 7yo ram. A more experienced sheep hunter may drop this ram in a second, I however would have to spent more time watching. And likely keep looking.



    Point being, characteristics will vary by mountain range and even annuli can be tough to judge.
    Last edited by Daniel_M; 1 Week Ago at 11:30 AM.
    Here's the deal. Sheep hunters in general are prone to marketing ploys. Slap a ram skull on a dildo and dudes are gonna buy them by the cases.

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    Digiscoping the Ram is a great way to further magnify and freeze movement to count rings. I prefer 250!yds on a questionable ram but it really varies with light conditions and the particular ram's growth rings. They stick it when wet, but light is poorer. Counting rings is a relatively short range game. Twisters over the bridge can easily be seen way out there. Good luck!

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    Senior Member Daniel_M's Avatar
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    Sheep Scope

    Here's another shot, from my Swaro 80mm w/ Olympus TG-4.

    It's been compressed a bit and cropped from video after transferring the data, in scope was much better. I'm still learning the tricks of digiscoping under variable atmospheric conditions and wind. The video is much better.

    However this is a ~1700yd snapshot. More than enough to say he's a broomed ram.


    Ram was fairly heavy bodied, thick neck in the upright position.





    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Last edited by Daniel_M; 1 Week Ago at 01:31 PM.
    Here's the deal. Sheep hunters in general are prone to marketing ploys. Slap a ram skull on a dildo and dudes are gonna buy them by the cases.

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    Buy the most expensive one you can afford (or not afford!) and the heaviest/largest one you are willing to pack. And don't forget a rock solid tripod to support it. The image is no good when it's bouncing around.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbob View Post
    Hey guys,

    I know this is a gear question but I wanted to post it here because I want opinions from the sheep hunters. I am gearing up to hunt stone sheep in BC (just moved here this summer, so I plan on hunting sheep every year for awhile) and I am trying to figure out what spotter to get. I am counting every gram as I will most likely be hunting solo on many trips. I understand that some items the extra weight is worth it and I am wondering if this is treu with a spotter.

    So what size scope do you guys recommend? Some guys are packing lightweight 50mm scopes and others and bringing pigs that let them count rings from far and save on hiking. Is this a personal preference or is there a general consensus among sheep hunters?

    My thoughts right now are to wait for a Nikon Fieldscope ED 82 20-75x and also pick up a ED50. The eye piece would be interchangeable between the two and this would give me good glass at a reasonable price. Or I could just buy a kowa 663 and have one do all scope.

    So what do you guys with experience say?

    P.S. Sorry mods if this must be moved to optics section I just wanted sheep opinions.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    "One does not hunt in order to kill; on the contrary, one kills in order to have hunted...If one were to present the sportsman with the death of the animal as a gift he would refuse it. What he is after is having to win it, to conquer the surly brute through his own effort and skill with all the extras that this carries with it: the immersion in the countryside, the healthfulness of the exercise, the distraction from his job."

    Jose Ortega y Gasset

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