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All About Antlers

All about antlers deer alone in woods

Antlers are of great concern for every deer hunter, and for good reason. Ancient cultures have used them as tools, toys, and ceremonial purposes since antiquity. In today’s culture, they serve as a tangible trophy of an animal that survives long after a hunt. The practice of grading sets of antlers as a trophy began in the 19th century. Now we have modern day ranking systems such as Boone and Crocket, which measure a variety of different metrics to determine size and trophy status

Dead animal with antlers on groundWhat are Antlers Made of and How do they Grow?

Antlers consist mostly of calcium, among other minerals, in a structure that roughly resembles our own human bone. This process starts as cartilage, continuing with covering of a nutrient shuttling tissue we call “velvet.” Antlers grow faster than any other mammal bone due to their importance in sexual selection and mating. After their full growth, the base of the antler is destroyed and they eventually fall off. Many outdoorsmen search the woods after shedding as an alternative to deer hunting.

What’s the point?

man posing with deer with antlers after huntAntlers exist for a variety of evolutionary reasons, having long ago developed from tusks. Now, they serve primarily signal dominance and sexual characteristics. They signal maturity and health both to competing males and potential mates. Antler requires huge amounts of energy to build and maintain, meaning large sets can also signal high genetic quality. This tells potential mates an animal is proficient at food gathering or has high metabolic efficiency. Finally, deer with larger sets have an advantage in territorial fighting with other males. Deer will go head to head, locking in an attempt to dominate the other deer through force. It is not uncommon to see puncture wounds on deer caused by competition between bucks.

Are There Different Types?

buck on ground after a huntMost people think of white tail deer as the primary species, but deer are not the only species that grow antlers. In Caribou, both male and female have antlers, Elk and Reindeer also grow sets. Moose also grow their own unique sets, and many theorize their different flat, thick and wide structure serves a function as hearing aids, catching and amplifying sound to the nearby ear. Regardless of what you are hunting, consider reading some tips we have for deer or elk.

What’s the Difference Between a Horn and an Antler?

The primary difference that sets horns apart is that horns are never shed. Horns are more similar to a fingernail where the exterior is alive and constantly growing. Antlers, on the other hand, eventually die and fall off.

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Why You Want to Put your Binoculars on a Tripod

Binoculars on a tripod

Binoculars are a key piece of equipment for any hunting trip. However, just like rifles, they perform best from a stable platform. Therefore, for best performance, we recommend using a tripod. Here are some reasons to put your binoculars on a tripod.

Stabilizes Optic View

A tripod keeps your binocular stable without any input from you. While some hunters may rest their binoculars on their knees or other landscape objects, this isn’t sustainable long term. We can hardly hope for the perfect stump at every hunting location to hold our binoculars.  Especially if using high levels of magnification to scout at a great distance, small movements such as your own breathing can result in massive, disorienting shifts in optic picture.

binoculars on a tripod looking in

Hand Free Options

It’s impossible to hold a rifle or call and a binocular at the same time. A tripod allows you to keep your eyes on the prize and your hands free to handle your other business. When you return from the task, the picture remains in sight and focus.

Maintains Optic Picture

As previously mentioned, a tripod keeps your binocular on target and in focus. This could be on a herd of game, a decoy or a single point in a landscape. Whatever your goal, a tripod for your binocular allows you to dial in and remain on the point regardless of wind or other environmental factors. Tripods even allow you to hold multiple optics in focus at the same time, allowing you to observe several areas at once.

Big Picture/Small Picture Focus

A stable binocular and stable optic picture allows for much more efficient scanning of the environment. By being able to return to the same specific point, it is easier to step back from the optic to get the bigger picture in the hunting environment.

detail hands holding binoculars in rain

Physically and Mentally Easier

An extended scouting venture might involve several hours looking through a binocular. A tripod makes this easier physically by saving energy spent stabilizing the binocular. What’s more, it makes it mentally easier. By reducing eye strain having to focus and refocus or deal with a moving optic picture, a tripod makes extended scouting significantly easier.

Try it for Yourself!

Here is a list of industry leading binocular tripods. We recommend a larger universal adapter to securely hold our night vision binoculars. Our rangefinding binoculars work with a greater variety of mounts due to their more standardized shape.

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How to Properly Care for your Rangefinding Binoculars

man looking through rangefinding binoculars

To start, binoculars are a bit more fragile than your standard gear, so it’s important to care for them so they can serve you a long time.

Don’t Leave your Binoculars in direct sunlight

This is important if you keep rangefinding binoculars in your car. Exposed sun will slowly separate the lenses from the lens covers, causing them to crack. Furthermore, in a car, keep them somewhere anchored so they don’t slide across the car when you stop.

Make Use of Your Case

We include a high quality protective case with every pair of X-Vision rangefinding binoculars for a reason. We want your rangefinding binoculars to last you a long time.

rangefinding binoculars in rain

In Use

Nothing about field conditions is ever perfect, but here are some best practices in the field to care for and avoid a catastrophe for your binoculars.  

Use a Strap

The simplest way to control your binoculars in the field is with a neck strap. A neck strap keeps your binoculars close and in control. When traversing terrain, a neck strap also allows you to tuck binoculars into a jacket.

Keep Your Binoculars Dry

Rangefinding binoculars are capable of handling a light rain. In heavier rain, seek cover or use a waterproof cover to minimize moisture in the set. Because of the electronic components in our rangefinding binoculars, full immersion will likely destroy the electronics.

person using rangefinding binoculars in fog

After Use Care

Wipe Down All Metal Components

Before storing your rangefinding binoculars, wipe down any dirt from the binocular housing.

Remove Grit from the Lens

Hunting is a gritty sport but rubbing grit into lenses will permanently damage them. Before cleaning a lens, use a lens cleaning tissue or soft bristle brush and invert the binoculars to allow the dirt to fall off. You can use a blower to achieve this same function, but don’t use your breath. Blowing on your binocular’s lenses will trap particles on the glass due the moisture of your breath.

Use Microfiber Cloth to Clean Lenses

In the field, a sleeve might work in a pinch. For best results long term, you will want a microfiber cloth to clean the lenses. Also consider adding a lens cleaning solution to remove oil stains from the lens and lens coating.

Dry Them Before Storing

Before storing your binoculars, wipe the exterior down with a soft, dry cloth and store them in the case. Consider adding a silica packet to the binocular case to maintain proper humidity.

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How to Choose a Reticle for Your Thermal Scope

Boar thermal vision Reticle

The X-Vision Thermal Scope has 10 reticle options:

Style 1: Standard crosshairs with thick stadia lines on the outer edges, with thinner lines towards the center of the crosshairs. Simple, yet effective.

Style 2: Similar to the standard crosshairs, this also includes horizontal stadia lines below the center of the crosshairs, good for hold-offs. Not set up for any specific caliber, you will use your own range data to set up holdoffs for different distances.

Style 3: Opposite of style 2, this option has vertical stadia lines on the horizontal axis, allowing easy hold offs to compensate for windage.

Style 4: Open style crosshairs with only single dot in the center, with a few dots below on the y-axis. Good for quick aiming and bolt drops on crossbows.

Style 5: Minimalist crosshairs with only a center dot and further out three stadia lines. Gives a full view of the target, while still providing a reference aim point.

Style 6. Two intersecting lines of dots. Shows a full reticle line, but able to see more of the target than the straight lines of a normal reticle. Dots can be used for elevation or windage holdoffs as well.

Style 7: This is a simple crosshair with only a few wider stadia lines below the center. This is useful for shorter range holdoffs.

Style 8: Similar to 7, but with more space between the stadia lines. Better for holdoffs at longer ranges.

Style 9: A combination of Styles 2 and 3. This style has Stadia lines and ½ Stadia lines on all 4 main lines forming the crosshairs.

Style 10: Similar to Style 9, but with the stadia lines more spaced out and extending farther in all 4 directions. It has a simple dot in the center where the x and y axis meet.

Reticle Off: This allows you to use the scope to view/track targets without a reticle present. Allows full view of the screen.

Reticle thermal vision

What are Stadia Lines?

Stadia lines are lines above and below the main crosshair. They are used to understand the scale of an image viewed through the scope.

When adjusting the magnification of the scope, the distance between stadia lines will increase/decrease with the magnification, similar to a second focal place scope.

This ensures that you can use your hold-offs at any magnification.

deer thermal vision Reticle

What Reticle Colors Does the Thermal Scope Offer?

The X-Vision thermal scope offers black and white reticle colors. We recommend choosing a color that has the most contrast with the palette setting.

Thermal imaging displays the differences in temperatures, so hot objects will appear as a certain color different than their background. Palette settings are what color that contrast appears in. Here’s the lowdown on different palette settings.

White Hot setting displays hotter objects as white on a black field. Green hot displays hot objects as green, and blue hot displays them as blue. Red Hot displays hotter objects as red on a field of white.

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How to Become a Hunter without Experience

man looking through scope

Never been introduced to hunting but want to get involved in the sport? This one’s for you!

Hit the Web

The internet can help you find just about anything, including opportunities to hunt. Here is a handy website that lets you find local hunting clubs based upon state and zip code. You can also search out groups on social media like Facebook. The right people will help mentor you to avoid the big problems of hunting without experience.

Know Before You Go

two men posing with boar

Find out what you want to hunt beforehand. Different game and different seasons appeal to different people. Some may enjoy the cold stillness of deer hunting, while others may prefer the active searching of grouse hunting. This also plays further into the type of firearms, clothing and other gear you’ll need to hunt.

Once you know what you want to hunt and when, search out a resource for gear. Searches like “gear list for deer hunting” or “bird hunting deer list” can give you an idea what types of equipment you need. Some types of hunting, such as backcountry or bow hunting, are more gear intensive and require more specialized equipment and skills. Examples of this include binoculars for long distance scouting, or additional layers for November deer hunting.

After you know when and what you want to hunt, spend some time reading up on regulations for hunting. Some states may require hunter’s safety, or other regulations, such as permits or lottery systems for tags. It is important to follow all regulations regarding hunting. Fines from a game warden are no way to start off your hunting career. Even if you are without experience, the rules still apply.

Get in Gear

After you find out what you need, start purchasing gear. There are a variety of different hunting retailers that will sell all you need to get started. If cost is an issue, used markets such as Facebook Marketplace are a great way to get gear on the cheap. We also sell blemished optics for those looking to get a deal on a usable but less beautiful piece of X-Vision gear. Consider waiting for a closeout sale after the end of a hunting season to rack up seasonal discounts on other hunting gear like apparel.

man looking through x-vision optics with friend

Get Out There!

Once you have gear, the right information, and a group to learn from and hunt with, you’re well on your way to go from a hunter without experience, to a hunter with experience. Furthermore, don’t get discouraged if you aren’t initially successful. Hunting is the work of a lifetime and the waiting pays off!

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Choosing the Right Hunting Scope

Man looking through hunting scope in grass

Here at X-Vision, we think the right optic is extremely important. However, we also offer a lot of different styles of optics. Here are some ways to help to choose between our various selections.

What Firearm are You Using?

This is the first important question to ask while choosing an optic. Rifles and other long arms are best suited for longer range targets. Thus it makes sense to use an accompanying optic with higher magnification.

Shotguns will primarily be used with a non-magnified optic with the exception of slugs. If using slugs, opt for an optic more similar to a rifle optic.

Pistols are almost always used without a magnified optic. There is an exception in the form of hunting revolvers, which may use a magnification to take advantage of larger calibers.

Different firearms may also have different mounting systems for optics systems. All of our X-Vision products mount on standard Picatinny rail systems.

Hunting Scope X-Vision

What are Your Conditions Like?

X-Vision offers a variety of different optics for different situations. One of our specialties is night vision or thermal optics. Night vision is specifically geared towards usage at night with some level of ambient or artificial light. Thermal optics work for both night and day without external or ambient light sources. This means night vision is best for usage primarily at night, and thermal optics work for a mix of both.

We also offer standard optics best suited for daytime situations. Regardless of your shooting conditions, we have you covered.

What is Your Target Like?

The best optic for your needs also depends on the animal you’re hunting and the distance they will be found at. Game like deer tend to be engaged at distances, lending themselves best to magnified optics.

Other game like turkey or other fowl tend to be best suited to use of red dot sights without magnification. For faster moving waterfowl like ducks or geese, red dot sights are the choice for most hunters in most instances.

Some targets like predators or hogs are often best hunted at night, meaning a thermal or night vision scope is the best choice.

Man in camo kneeling with x-vision optics on head

Are You Doing Any Scouting?

Depending on your game choice and hunting environment, you may choose a separate optic to scout with. Monoculars are lighter, but offer a restricted field of view compared to binoculars.

For scouting at night, we offer both monoculars and binoculars with night vision capabilities, including hands free options.

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Gun Range Day: 5 Things to Bring

Man firing gun at gun range

It’s the day you’ve been eagerly waiting for as the days tick down on the calendar: range day. Here are some things to bring to make sure you have the best possible time. Be sure to consider range of regulations and local laws in addition to this list.

Rifle and Ammunition

 

gun on shooting bench

Simply enough, there’s no shooting without a firearm. First, make sure whatever gun you choose is clean and lubricated for best performance. Next, make sure to bring your rifle in a case as state, local, and range regulations require.

Once you have your rifle squared away, make sure to bring the adequate quantity and type of ammunition. However, make sure to store rifle and ammunition separately in locked cases for safety reasons.

Furthermore, be sure to check in advance as some ranges may require you to purchase ammunition on the range.

Finally, make sure that both of these components are stored in the locked trunk of your vehicle. Security is important for safe and legal firearm ownership.

Safety Gear

We recommend eye protection and ear protection. Yet other users may opt for additional protection like shooting gloves, a hat, or long sleeves and long pants. These are optional but the first two may be mandatory at some range sites.

Optics and Targets

multiple men aiming guns on shooting rangeHow could we forget a sight to shoot with! Depending on your firearm, distance, and needs, choose from any variety of our optics. If using multiple arms with one optic, consider a optic with single-shot zero to maximize time shooting and minimize time zeroing.

Targets are highly dependent on your personal preference and range rules. But, If you’re training for a competition or hunting, you may want to tailor targets to your needs. Some ranges may require you use their targets, while others will require you bring targets of your own.

Food and Water

Being dehydrated is no fun, and being dehydrated at the range is even less fun. Therefore, be sure to bring enough to eat and drink while you’re out shooting. More food means more time shooting, which means more fun.

Friends

The best things in life are shared, and nothing beats a range day with good friends. Correspondingly, friends help keep you safer and can provide important feedback on your form. A well trained observer can also help you dial in shots at a longer range and make you a better shooter in the long run.

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Tube Style vs Open Style Red Dots

X-Vision Product lineup

Red dots are extremely popular, and it’s easy to see why. Red dot sights are small, light, inexpensive, and can make shooting and target acquisition easier on any firearm. X-Vision sells a couple sizes and styles of red dot sights. In this blog we’ll go into the difference between the two main styles of red dot sights.

What Do They Have in Common?

Open style and tube style sights share much in common. Both optics are unlimited eye relief sights with no magnification. This means they are primarily for short distances within 100 yards. Both types of optics allow shooters to shoot with both eyes open, making target acquisition easy.

man looking through x-vision scopeHow do Red Dot Sights Work?

A small red LED projects a beam of light onto a semi-transparent mirror, which is then reflected onto the front lens of an optic. This partial brightness allows the sight picture and the red dot to coexist. Because the beam always comes from the same direction, the point always appears in the correct location regardless of the eye’s location relative to the sight. Here is a great graphic explanation of the technical details.

Open Style Sights

Open style red dot sights, also known as HUD or reflex sights, offer a greater field of view for target acquisition. A field of view is the peripheral area above and to either side of the sight picture. This makes them optimal for environments with fast moving targets such as skeet shooting.

While this open design improves target acquisition, open optics are also open to external factors. This means that they can be affected by environmental conditions like fog or breath condensation, rain, snow and dirt. Any of these contaminants can get on the lens and interfere with the sight picture. It is important to care for and pay attention for any optic to ensure it works well, but if you tend to shoot in bad weather, consider a closed sight.

x-vision scopeTube Style Sights

A tube style sight is exactly like it sounds. The red dot is projected within a tube shaped optic. Tube shapes provide a round sight picture. Closed sights have a sealed lens and are generally more durable than open style sights, but are also bulkier. You can also add filters such as dust covers, filters for haze or with polarization. standardized tube format al

Generally, most shooters prefer tube style sights for distances longer than 50 yards and longer on arms like rifles. Tube style sights have tighter minutes of angle and the more enclosed sight picture helps focus on faraway targets.

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Do I Need a Tracking Dog on my Hunts?

Muddy Space Trailer with 3d buck target in back

Hunting dogs have a long and storied tradition. Man’s best friend has had a role in helping hunt since before recorded history. However, in the late 19th century, regulations around hunting with dogs changed across the United States. For this article, we’ll largely focus on hunting deer with tracking dogs, but also consider reading our article on mountain lion hunting.

Hunting Dogs vs. Tracking Dogs

There’s a distinction between hunting dogs and tracking dogs. Hunting dogs, or “hounds” flush out deer actively similar to a deer drive. Tracking or “gun” dogs track an already wounded animal via scent or blood trail. Hunting with hounds is very active and can involve up to a dozen hounds, multiple hunters in different roles, and occasionally motorized transportation or GPS tracking of dogs.

night vision view of multiple deer in fieldWhy Hunt With Dogs?

Dogs offer hunters an advantage due to their extremely sensitive senses. Dogs also are much more efficient forest travelers, saving hunters energy and time. Hunting with hounds is also is a more active and exciting pursuit. When hunting with hounds, hunters must shoot at mobile flushed deer rather than unaware, ranging deer.

Hunting with tracking dogs offers a massive advantage in tracking wounded animals. Dogs can follow blood trails a hunter won’t even notice. Furthermore, a dog can a deer with its far superior sense of smell. Dogs can find a downed animal hours or even days after it was shot.
Some hunters enjoy hound hunting for its exciting and adventurous nature. Other hunters enjoy raising and training hunting or tracking dogs. Some areas also have professionals who provide their dogs as an on call service.

man viewing night vision up closeIs It Legal in My Area?

Before deciding to hunt with dogs, it’s important to understand the rules. Most states ban the practice outright, while others require hunters to keep animals on a leash. Here is a resource detailing various federal and state laws around hunting dogs. Generally, southern states allow dog hunting, but some individual counties have bans or other legislation regarding the practice.

Is It Feasible In My Area?

Even if using dogs for hunting is legal in your area, there are more things to consider. It’s important to be courteous to other hunters, and dogs can disrupt other hunters with barking or their scent. Local landowners are also a consideration, as dogs may chase prey across property lines onto private land. Because it is so important to engage with landowners positively, keep this in mind before choosing to dog hunt. You can also check out other dog hunting tips on our blog here.

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Do You Need Any External Light to Work a Night Vision Device?

man looking through firearm scope

The answer is yes, but there is some fine print. Most outdoor night situations have low levels of ambient light that an infrared device can pick up and magnify. This might be a partial moon or starlight that a night vision device can pick up and amplify. If you’re using night vision indoors, or under heavy cloud or foliage cover, you may need to use an artificial IR illuminator. Most night vision sights or goggles have built-in illuminators which can provide some level infrared light.

man looking through firearm scopeShould I Use an External Light Source?

While an additional infrared light is not required, it can be helpful in some situations. An additional source of infrared light can increase the range of a device over an integrated light. Consider an extra infrared illuminator if you want to maximize your hunting opportunities and get the most out of your night vision. The X-Vision infrared flashlight is effective to 500 yards and mounts on most standard rail systems.

How Does Night Vision Work?

To understand how night vision works we have to first understand infrared light. In short, Infrared light is a lower frequency wavelength of light that is invisible to the eye under normal circumstances.

Infrared light is always present, just invisible to us. Night vision goggles detect infrared light that reflects off objects and it processes through a computer. This computer amplifies infrared light before delivering the modified image to your eye in the characteristic green or gray glow we associate with night vision. This allows you to discover the unseen by harnessing infrared light.

What’s the Difference Between Thermal and Night Vision?

Night vision and thermal sights detect different parts of the infrared spectrum. Night vision reads infrared light and magnifies it to display an image. Thermal sights read the difference in temperatures between objects. This is because thermals read a differential in temperatures. Because of this distinction, thermal sights function without any external light sources.

night vision view of pigNight Vision and Noise

The less light available, the more noise is created as a night vision optic amplifies low levels of light inefficiently. This was more prevalent with older units but modern units have very low levels of noise due to digital processing. If you’re experiencing extreme noise on your set, consider adding an external infrared light or contact customer support to ensure your unit is functioning correctly.