Opinions on a spotting scope for Mtn Goat?

bat-cave

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I am a newbie to spotting scopes and honestly have never paid a ton of attention to threads on quality spotters as a result. I am fortunate enough that I drew a CO Mtn Goat tag this year after 17 years of applications. Now, I'm all of a sudden very interested in a spotter. I'm willing to make an investment in good glass given this once in a lifetime tag and hoping that I will use it again or worst case, sell it with a hope that I don't lose as much on resale.

I'm reading as much as I can, but would appreciate any pointers from those with real world experience. Given lots of climbing will be involved, weight is an issue. From what I'm reading best of the best low light performance is not as critical with Mtn Goats as some other more nocturnal species. My initial thought is something like a 20-60x 65mm Angled makes sense. I have a pile of $'s to recoup at Cabelas and they have the Swaro ATS HD 20-60x65mm Angled seems like it might be a good option.

Thoughts on this? Do I need the 80mm? Do I need more / will I be wishing I had more etc ...?

I looked at some of the Tripod/Head suggestions from Aron Snyder on Outdoorsmans ... wow they add up to be a higher percentage of the glass cost than I would have anticipated! Any thoughts on this would also be appreciated!

TIA,

Dave
 

AkMtnRunner

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Kowa 553 and Oben CT-1000L tripod/head. The Kowa 553's are on sale right now for $1499 and this Oben tripod is by far the lightest yet rock solid for seated glassing with a light optic and pretty cheap too.

I will add, it's probably not worthwhile to go larger in your goat hunt. As long as you'll have enough sunlight and you're only using the spotter to investigate interesting things you find with binos, the above setup will get you 99% of the way to the usefulness of a 80mm class scope (plus heavier tripod and head) set up that weighs at least twice as much.
 
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wildwilderness

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Yes, for goats I would definitely have a spotter. Able to tell Billy vs Nanny is important. Also an inch on the horn can make a big difference in score.

As mentioned Kowa is a great value scope. I would say 65mm would be plenty for what you would need it to do. Swaro would be top of the line and you wouldn’t think of replacing it.
 

AK Troutbum

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^^^I bought this exact scope just for goat hunting. I also have an 80mm HD Swaro, but I really got tired of carrying it around on goat hunts. I still use the Swaro for sheep hunts, because I fell that is better glass and sometimes trying to determine legal sheep from a distance can be very difficult. That is never the case with goats and while I still want quality glass for hunting them, I don’t need a 4 lb. spotter to do it. I don’t have any experience with the Oben tripod, but it looks identical to my tripod (AOKA), weighs the same, and is about $50 more expensive.

Edit: I was referring to AkMtnRunner’s post.
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Decker9

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Congrats on the goat tag!!

For what it’s worth, my pentax 65ed and my swarvo 65hd, are neck and neck in everything but price tag. If I was to do it over again, I’d 100% go pentax. The swarvo did not have any “wow factor” to my eyes over my pentax.
 
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bat-cave

bat-cave

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Thanks for the feedback thus far guys! Very helpful and I will definitely look at Kowa as well! Is Outdoorsmans stuff built to survive a nuke or just more expensive? The Aoka/Oben pricing was more along the lines of what I was expecting (hoping) to pay.
 

ericacymcdonald

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I've never hunted goat but do a lot of backcountry hunting. You are going to want something light and compact. I have the maven cs1 and while it's not a swaro it's works great, and is light weight. From what I've read the athlon 15-45 and Cabela's 15-45 are almost identical. The cabela's is a closeout right now. I'd try to get your hands on one if you can to see if it's worth the extra for a swaro to you it isn't for me because I do all my glassing with binos.
 

amo16

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I've got a Kowa 553 and a Swarovski ATX 65. IMO those are quite possibly the 2 best scopes for packing and still maintaining optical performance.

As far as a tripod goes, I'd strongly advise against a ball head and get a pan head instead. Pan heads flat out outperform ball heads for prolonged glassing. The best options are probably the Outdoorsmans pan head and micro pan head, but there are no flies on the Sirui VA-5 or Benro S2 for significantly less money. Couple one of those with the legs of your choice and you're set. You should be able to get your tripod setup right around 2.5-3 lbs for as low as $300. While you can get some setups that are lighter, you lose a ton of performance in doing so. Good luck with your hunt BTW.
 

PantherCity

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^^^I bought this exact scope just for goat hunting. I also have an 80mm HD Swaro, but I really got tired of carrying it around on goat hunts. I still use the Swaro for sheep hunts, because I fell that is better glass and sometimes trying to determine legal sheep from a distance can be very difficult. That is never the case with goats and while I still want quality glass for hunting them, I don’t need a 4 lb. spotter to do it. I don’t have any experience with the Oben tripod, but it looks identical to my tripod (AOKA), weighs the same, and is about $50 more expensive.

Edit: I was referring to AkMtnRunner’s post.
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I have one of those AOKA tripods (the next size up- 2.2lbs and 54” & 33lb capacity) and it might work for a light spotter from sitting. I use it as a seated bino tripod and light weight field shooting tripod. It’s not great with my 77mm Leica spotter.


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HuntNTag

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Thanks for the feedback thus far guys! Very helpful and I will definitely look at Kowa as well! Is Outdoorsmans stuff built to survive a nuke or just more expensive? The Aoka/Oben pricing was more along the lines of what I was expecting (hoping) to pay.

Outdoorsmans is a rock solid tripod form aluminum. It does cost more but it’s very high quality and you won’t have the shakes because it is super stable. You can’t say that for many tripods.

I agree with the other comments on either the outdoorsmans pad head or get the Sirui VA5 head which is great.


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bat-cave

bat-cave

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You guys are a ton of help - Thank You! Another dumb question. It seems like ARCA is a pretty common mounting interface between the spotting scope and tripod head. Any Do's / Don't in this regard? I see base extensions and a slew of options. For something like the Kowa 553 or Swaro ATS 65mm, do i need an extension with something like a VA5 Video/Fluid head?
 

JonS

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Bat Cave, shoot me a message, I've got two slik tripods and depending on when you're going, you could borrow/rent one. One is the 624, shorter, other is the 634, taller.
Also have a Nikon Fieldscope III that is not as clear as my Vortex Razor 20-45x60 that easily mounts to either tripod.
We could work something out I suspect. I'm in Erie, CO, just up the road
 

BBob

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You guys are a ton of help - Thank You! Another dumb question. It seems like ARCA is a pretty common mounting interface between the spotting scope and tripod head. Any Do's / Don't in this regard? I see base extensions and a slew of options. For something like the Kowa 553 or Swaro ATS 65mm, do i need an extension with something like a VA5 Video/Fluid head?
No, a standard ARCA plate would be fine on the smaller scopes and IMO still fine up into 80 to 85mm scopes. I don't use an extended rail/balancing rail until I get into a 95 or BTX size/weight glass.

The VA5 while a nice head isn't really needed for the smaller scopes. If you are really looking to cut weight the Outdoorsmans Std Pan head isn't far behind the VA5 and is a fair amount lighter and more compact. An Outdoorsmans tripod and std pan head is a really stable setup but a compromise on weight compared to some of the carbon tripods.
 

amo16

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BTW if you go with the Swaro ATS make sure you get the 25-50 wide angle eye piece, not the 20-60. You will really appreciate the extra FOV.
 

AkMtnRunner

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If that Oben/Aoka tripod interests you, it comes with an extremely lightweight but effective-enough ball head for a lightweight optic such as the Kowa 553. You may want to try that before spending serious money on a head. If you follow the path of most, you'll eventually try a few heads out before you even know what you like. If nothing else, that little tripod is super handy on a shooting table or for photography work. One of the best purchases I've made. I did eventually buy a RRS BPC-16 ball head for it. It's a bit nicer than the head it comes with but it was more than I paid for the Aoka tripod/head to begin with.
 

antlerz

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My AOKA ball head does the job (now on a 634). It was as stable as my 494 manfrotto. A carry option for oz counters.
 

Coop RentOutdoorGear.com

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Idaho
Since you’re looking at using a scope for a once in a lifetime hunt, I would definitely rent an amazing piece of glass rather than buy something you’re going to have to sell at a loss after the hunt.

RentOutdoorGear.com has Swarovski, Kowa, and Vortex spotters as well as some great carbon tripod systems to go with them. You can rent for a week for about what you’ll waste on sales tax to buy them new. This seems like the textbook case for a rental. Plus, if you decide you needs spotter in your life after you take that giant Billy, you can apply 100% of the rental toward a purchase!

Give us a holler and I’d be happy to make some recommendations. I’ve been on my share of goat hunts.

Coop

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ZackP

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Idaho
I think you’re right on track with the 65mm ATS. Especially if you’re redeeming enough Cabela’s $ to make a difference on the price tag.

FWIW I’ve used a lot of the budget 65mm options before I finally upgraded to the ATS HD. Perfect size, weight, and magnification. Not to mention the glass is great. I don’t see myself ever upgrading, unless I get a wild hair for an 80mm. But for back packing I think its honestly the best option out there depending on budget.
 
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bat-cave

bat-cave

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Thanks all. I pulled the tripped on the Swaro ATS. Cabelas had a 10% off online coupon + my Cabelas Bucks ... knocked a grand off - Done deal! I still need to decide on a tripod and head and greatly appreciate all of the insights from folks here!
 
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