Tips for Glassing Terrain

eric1115

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Jun 26, 2018
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Binos on a tripod. Good binos that have more than just a sharp center, so you can pick apart a 40'x40' patch without moving, rather than a 15'x15' sharp center. Still binos are key.

SLOW DOWN. Study a patch of ground. We have a tendency to drop things we see into one of two buckets. There's a deer bucket, and a not deer bucket. ID that object before dropping it in the "not deer" bucket. A deer that presents differently than we were expecting (facing away, head down. Mis-estimating how big they are going to look. Light is hitting that hillside different than we think so the deer are more gray and flat looking) is easy to drop in the "not deer" bucket since it's not what we think we're looking for.

This effect is much stronger when we're moving fast with our eyes. Our brains are incredible subconscious filters, and once we see a couple deer we always start seeing a bunch more now that we know what we're looking for. Slowing down and looking more critically at things that don't trigger the "DEER!" response in the brain is an important step in not filtering out too much.
 

BBob

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Assuming stationary glassing off a tripod. Other than cherry picking known hot-spots, hot looking terrain or ridge-lines at early and late light you should probably be going far slower than than you think you should. If the cherry picking didn't find anything and it's time to focus and pick things apart my way of doing this is to identify to myself in my head everything I am seeing. I actually say to myself rock, rock, grass, leaf, branch, flower, stick, dirt patch, etc... as I pick through the view in the optic. It forces me to actually look at and identify the little picture which will lead to seeing eyes, ears, antler tips, hair patches, etc... You won't likely miss a big picture item while homing in on the small. Once your brain schema gets trained up on full or larger pieces of animal shapes it'll latch on to them quickly, it's the hidden stuff that needs the constant mental focus. With top end glass (if you know you know) this is how I find the buried treasure. I often see through trees, cactus and all sorts of things to find those hidden jewels :)
 
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Binos on a tripod. Good binos that have more than just a sharp center, so you can pick apart a 40'x40' patch without moving, rather than a 15'x15' sharp center. Still binos are key.

SLOW DOWN. Study a patch of ground. We have a tendency to drop things we see into one of two buckets. There's a deer bucket, and a not deer bucket. ID that object before dropping it in the "not deer" bucket. A deer that presents differently than we were expecting (facing away, head down. Mis-estimating how big they are going to look. Light is hitting that hillside different than we think so the deer are more gray and flat looking) is easy to drop in the "not deer" bucket since it's not what we think we're looking for.

This effect is much stronger when we're moving fast with our eyes. Our brains are incredible subconscious filters, and once we see a couple deer we always start seeing a bunch more now that we know what we're looking for. Slowing down and looking more critically at things that don't trigger the "DEER!" response in the brain is an important step in not filtering out too much.
What power binos do you run on that setup?
 

Brian Fahs

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Tripod mount the best binos you can afford.

Spend money on a good tripod and head.

Get a comfortable pad or chair to sit

Glass with the sun at your back whenever possible

Spend more time staring at likely cover than looking all over the place randomly. Movement really pops when your glass is rock solid and you are focused on a small area.
 

AZ_Hunter_2000

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Put your binoculars on a tripod and use them to glass. Use your spotting scope for clarifications and/or confirmations.

First Light: Repeated quick grid searches of area with the intent to capture any animal in the open. Slow down and transition to "Day Time" method about an hour after first light.
Day Time: Very slow, methodical grid search typically moving 1/4-1/3 of the view at a time. Each "view" can last from about 30 seconds to several minutes depending on the terrain, target species, and conditions. This is a continuous process.
Late Afternoon: Keep doing "Day Time" method but transition to "First Light" the moment the sun goes over the ridge. Keep alternating between the two methods until about 30 minutes before legal light ends.
Last Light: Do quick grid searches over and over until legal light has ended.

Tip #1: Most people who think they are glassing are actually looking. There's a difference.
Tip #2: Glass from before dawn all the way through dusk.
Tip #3: During the daytime glass north-facing ridges as they tend to have a lot of shade.
Tip #4: Take short breaks to give your eyes a rest. Always have someone glassing if in a group.
Tip #5: Do not look for an entire animal. Look for a tiny piece of an animal such as a tail or tine. Look for small subtle movements such as chewing cud.
Tip #6: Do not forget to glass right in front of you.
Tip #7: Glass for mountain lion. No other animal will be able to avoid detection.
 

BBob

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Can you elaborate on the difference between looking and glassing?
Tip #5: Do not look for an entire animal. Look for a tiny piece of an animal such as a tail or tine. Look for small subtle movements such as chewing cud.

There are sugestions like this in other posts above as well.
Also, how do I even know if I’m glassing in the right area?
Time in the field and experience will teach you if you are in the right area and a big part of what pre hunt scouting is all about. I've hunted lots of the same country for decades and animal location due to feed, water or whatever can vary year to year and sometimes drastically. The best way to know where to be when your hunt opens is to go scout. I keep a log of what I see and where.
 

roughnecknine0

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Thanks @BBob. I've heard the "look for details, not for animals" hint a lot and am trying to practice that.

Totally hear you on the scouting and time in the field, my buddy and I are going out to scout his unit next weekend for a few days so hopefully it turns out benefecial although I'm guessing we'll need even more time.
 

eaglemountainman

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Put your binoculars on a tripod and use them to glass. Use your spotting scope for clarifications and/or confirmations.

First Light: Repeated quick grid searches of area with the intent to capture any animal in the open. Slow down and transition to "Day Time" method about an hour after first light.
Day Time: Very slow, methodical grid search typically moving 1/4-1/3 of the view at a time. Each "view" can last from about 30 seconds to several minutes depending on the terrain, target species, and conditions. This is a continuous process.
Late Afternoon: Keep doing "Day Time" method but transition to "First Light" the moment the sun goes over the ridge. Keep alternating between the two methods until about 30 minutes before legal light ends.
Last Light: Do quick grid searches over and over until legal light has ended.

Tip #1: Most people who think they are glassing are actually looking. There's a difference.
Tip #2: Glass from before dawn all the way through dusk.
Tip #3: During the daytime glass north-facing ridges as they tend to have a lot of shade.
Tip #4: Take short breaks to give your eyes a rest. Always have someone glassing if in a group.
Tip #5: Do not look for an entire animal. Look for a tiny piece of an animal such as a tail or tine. Look for small subtle movements such as chewing cud.
Tip #6: Do not forget to glass right in front of you.
Tip #7: Glass for mountain lion. No other animal will be able to avoid detection.
Loads of great advice right here.

Also, if you already have one, I wouldn't ditch the spotter as another poster suggests. Instead, use it for clarifications and confirmations as the above post suggests. A small lightweight spotter with great quality optics might not get used more than a few moments on an entire hunt, but can prove invaluable at times. It can save a lot of boot leather and wasted time.
 
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AZ_Hunter_2000

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Loads of great advice right here.

Also, if you already have one, I wouldn't ditch the spotter as another poster suggests. Instead, use it for clarifications and confirmations as the above post suggests. A small lightweight spotter with great quality optics might not get used more than a few moments on an entire hunt, but can prove invaluable at times. It can save a lot of boot leather and wasted time.
Agree about keeping the spotter. Let the optics do the bulk of the work.

My SLCs get used almost the entire day where as my spotter (STX or 554) may get used for a few minutes per day or even hunt. Sometimes those few minutes dictates what we'll be doing the rest of the day or the next day.
 

AZ_Hunter_2000

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Can you elaborate on the difference between looking and glassing? Also, how do I even know if I’m glassing in the right area?
Looking: Look through binoculars and only focus on the "full" picture. You often are expecting to see a full animal. You scan quickly, often times only hitting open patches, and proclaim "no animals". You either get up and move on or fidget around. If there is no rest for the binoculars (trekking pole, tripod, etc) then you are looking.

Glassing: Look through binoculars and only focus on small pieces of the sight picture. Every single thing gets dissected; every bush, tree, rock, etc. Once you confirm that there is no discernible animal do you move the binoculars a small fraction and repeat the process; always keeping 75-80% of the area that you just dissected in your view. You do only look for a fraction of an animal. Once you have glassed everything, you do it again, again, again, etc. Animals tend to "magically" appear out of nowhere. Found this to be true with bear (black and grizzly), sheep (Dall and desert), whitetail (regular and Coues), mule deer (Rocky Mountain and desert), axis deer, elk, javelina, mountain lion, moose, caribou, etc. You'll get more opportunities with this approach but some animals will still slip through the cracks.

It is easy to say to look for part of an animal such as the inside leg (color differential). The hard part is finding it on your own the first time. But once found the first time, each subsequent one becomes easier and more natural. Over time you will build an internal "database" and makes finding animals much easier and quicker.

It is easy to notice the difference between someone glassing and someone looking. Doesn't matter if they are sitting next to you or are on a ridge over. Their actions and body language are dead giveaways. I'll keep tabs on folks to know if I should glass in their direction (lookers) or if I should exclude that area (glassers). I know the lookers will likely miss animals where the glassers will likely have found them.
 

PRC_GUY

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Dec 24, 2020
Messages
195
Put your binoculars on a tripod and use them to glass. Use your spotting scope for clarifications and/or confirmations.

First Light: Repeated quick grid searches of area with the intent to capture any animal in the open. Slow down and transition to "Day Time" method about an hour after first light.
Day Time: Very slow, methodical grid search typically moving 1/4-1/3 of the view at a time. Each "view" can last from about 30 seconds to several minutes depending on the terrain, target species, and conditions. This is a continuous process.
Late Afternoon: Keep doing "Day Time" method but transition to "First Light" the moment the sun goes over the ridge. Keep alternating between the two methods until about 30 minutes before legal light ends.
Last Light: Do quick grid searches over and over until legal light has ended.

Tip #1: Most people who think they are glassing are actually looking. There's a difference.
Tip #2: Glass from before dawn all the way through dusk.
Tip #3: During the daytime glass north-facing ridges as they tend to have a lot of shade.
Tip #4: Take short breaks to give your eyes a rest. Always have someone glassing if in a group.
Tip #5: Do not look for an entire animal. Look for a tiny piece of an animal such as a tail or tine. Look for small subtle movements such as chewing cud.
Tip #6: Do not forget to glass right in front of you.
Tip #7: Glass for mountain lion. No other animal will be able to avoid detection.
Thank you for your experiences , I will read your thoughts and practice before I go out west hunting this year.
 
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