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Birding for Beginners

man birding and looking towards foggy mountains with binoculars

What is birding?

Birding is a shorthand for birdwatching. Birdwatching is the hobby of observing and identifying birds. Some enthusiasts even travel internationally to find rare birds and keep long term catalogs of birds they’ve seen. Simply, birding is also a cheap lifetime activity, meaning it requires little physical or material prerequisites to participate in.

Is Birding for me?

Birding definitely isn’t for everyone, and that’s ok. Different people enjoy the outdoors in different ways. Some people appreciate the stillness, silence and careful cataloging that bird watching requires. However, others may prefer more active pursuits like trail running or hiking. All that matters is you enjoy it!

man using rangefinder while golfingWhere do I Bird?

Anywhere there are birds really! A quick Google Search will bring up a variety of destinations nearby or within your state. You could even birdwatch on your lunch break at a local park. Any place with birds will do, but there are parks all over the world that are specific destinations for birders due to their rare habitats or endangered species. A local or state park is a great destination to start.

How do I bird?

Birding can be as simple as looking at birds around you or as complex as recording their songs and cataloging them by area and date seen. The decision is all yours. On the other hand, some people will search out a specific bird by habitat and season, others will observe a habitat for the birds that live within it.

close up of hand holding binoculars for birdingWhat do I need to bird?

We recommend some form of optic to magnify birds and a simple bird identification guide to find out what species they are. You might prefer a rangefinding binocular or monocular based upon what is more comfortable and easier to use. Also a bird identification guide is important to understand what you’re looking at. Simple guides organize birds by color, while advanced guides organize birds by their specific taxonomy. Other birders might bring a sketchbook to draw birds they see or a portable microphone to record bird calls they hear. There are also a wide variety of different apps for birders to use as resources in the field.

Who birds?

Surprisingly, birding can be a social activity for some. Therefore, there is quite a large birding community and it’s surprisingly easy to find a birding group nearby. Online groups such as the American Birding Association also have news, guides, best practices, and other birding information.

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Mountain Lion Hunting Tips

hunter looking through binoculars while mountain lion hunting

Just like a tasty recipe consists of the right ingredients, a safe and successful mountain lion hunt requires the right inputs. Much of this means being prepared with the right information, gear, layers and optics.

Bring the right information

Know your local seasons, quotas, limits and other information before going hunting. Some states might even require an outfitter. Wildlife managers keep a tight eye on the populations of mountain lions and regulate the sport tightly.  It is crucial as sportsmen to respect regulation and properly manage wildlife resources and game population. Furthermore, the hunting situation around wild felines is constantly changing. Colorado recently introduced legislation to ban the practice. Brush up on your state and local regulations, nobody wants a run in with a game warden they are unprepared for!

Bring the right weapon (and the right optic)

scope of firearm towards wooded area

The right rifle and optic can mean the difference between success or failure in a mountain lion hunt. Whether you are hunting with a rifle, revolver or bow, training with the weapon is crucial. A proper zero and match between optic, cartridge and firearm can mean the difference between success and failure. X-Vision scopes make this easy through a single shot zero and adaptive zeroing settings on several models.

Bring the Right Layers

Mountain lion hunting is more active than deer or other prey hunts, demanding different clothes. Dress in thin, light layers that can be easily shed to avoid overheating. It can be uncomfortable and potentially unsafe to overheat and have sweat freeze during an excursion.

Bring the Right Transportation

Mountain lion hunting looks wildly different in different jurisdictions. Some areas may utilize snowmobiles, while some areas require pack animals or foot travel.

Plan for Snowtarget on hay bale in snow

 

Mountain lions are easiest to track in fresh layer of snow. This means it is of utmost importance to prepare for snowy or muddy conditions before a trip. Waterproof, properly broken in boots are crucial to warm and dry feet during a snowy hunt. Nothing ruins a day out than wet feet or blisters.

Boot hunting or Dog hunting?

One of the most important distinctions in mountain lion hunting is between boot and dog hunting. The traditional method of hunting is with a pack of game dogs. The keen senses of dogs easily track and tree mountain lions for a prospective hunter. However, some jurisdictions have outlawed dog hunting, leaving hunters to track lions via “boot.” The difference is huge, demanding keen senses and tenacious pursuit from boot hunters.

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Why Thermal Optics are Important

X-Vision Thermal Optics

 

Thermal optics offer a massive advantage for any hunter in any environment for a multitude of reasons.

24 Hour Usage

Thermal optics function based on differences in temperature, rather than light. By relying on temperature, thermal optics function in both day and night environments. This is different from night vision optics, which require a low level of ambient or projected infrared light to function.

Thermal Optic with hog

Precise Temperature Detection

This precise detection of temperature also includes nonliving objects, such as blood trails, bedding areas or fresh game tracks. This capability offers a variety of uses other than direct hunting such as scouting, tracking, or stalking animals. Stationary or bedded down animals will also be detected by their radiant heat signature.

See Through Brush

Because thermal optics see differences in temperature, they can see through brush that matches the temperature of its surroundings, while concealed animals appear with clarity. That’s not to say they will see through a tree, but light brush offers no concealment. The same goes for smoke or foggy conditions, the radiant heat of an animal will show up clearly.

Useful for All Optics

The X-Vision Thermal monocularman posing with thermal optic after hunt provides advanced scouting tools with integral photo and video capability and 16 GB of internal memory. The XVision scope stores six different sets of zeroing date for accuracy across firearms. Both optics offer hotspot tracking, which follows the hottest object in its field of view. Hotspot tracking is useful for long range use or in dense foliage. They both can detect game to 1,900 yards or more. For closer Our Reflex Sight is effective to 1,000 yards.

Affordability

Thermal technology has come a long way in price and convenience since its inception. The result is modern prices are more like a single car payment then the full price of a car.

Conclusion

All these factors combine to make hunting easier, safer and more fun for you and your partner. The final important question to ask is.

How could your hunting be improved with thermal optics?

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Why is Eye Protection Important at the Range

man practicing shooting with eye protection

Eye protection does a lot more than make you look cool. Eye protection is a crucial safety precaution around any firearm, and along with a quality optic, can improve your shooting. Your eyes are a vulnerable, fragile and crucial part of your body it’s important to protect while shooting. When you’re at a range, it is a crucial part of your kit to keep you safe and comfortable. In fact, most professional shooting organizations require eye protection for both competitors and onlookers. Here are some reasons to consider eye protection for your next range day.

woman practicing shooting with eye protectionEye Protection Keeps You Safe

There are all sorts of things flying in a range environment. Lead, brass, powder and primer, to begin with, along with the dust, sand and potential target debris caused by target shooting. In short, there are all sorts of known unknown variables in a range environment, all of which you don’t want in your eyes. Catastrophic instances such as ricochets, misfires, or flying spalls all can cause serious injury. In particular, flying brass, a certainty in a shooting environment, can cause permanent damage or blindness in the instance of a direct hit.

Eye Protection Keeps You Comfortable

In addition to the clear safety benefit, eye protection can make your general range experience more comfortable. From dark sun tints to protect you from UV rays, to full seal eyewear to protect from wind, dust or insects, there are plenty of forms of eyewear and reasons to consider wearing them. Different lenses also offer benefits in various situations. Most popular are amber, yellow, gray or purple. Some competitive shooters swear by yellow lenses to increase contrast between targets and the background. Gray or blue lenses can also cut down on glare and increase object perception.

X-Vision scope on a firearm next to binoculars and rangefindersSome Eyewear Tips

It is important to select eyewear that fits properly. Full wrap around lenses leave less of a gap between the nose and eyes and are safer than aviator style lenses. The governing standard for shooting eye protection is American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z87.1. Compliant glasses should have a Z87.1 imprint somewhere on the frame. ANSI compliant safety glasses can cost as little as $20 or several hundred dollars for high end models with more features.

If you wear prescription glasses, there are models that fit over top of most glasses. If you spend a lot of time in safety glasses, prescription safety glasses that can be ordered through an optometrist.

Stay safe on the range! For more information on safe hunting on public land click here.

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What Type of Optics do You Need for a Mountain Hunt?

Man overlooking mountains with binoculars in hand during a mountain hunt

Hunting in the mountains is very different than hunting in flat forests. You need to build up endurance and be ready for hiking through tough terrain. Packing the right essentials and wearing the right clothing gets you half-way there but knowing what optics to bring along brings you to the finish line. So, what type of optics do you need for a mountain hunt?

Rangefinding Binoculars

Rangefinding binoculars detail

A pair of rangefinding binoculars is a must on any mountain hunt. They can see farther than a general rangefinder, and can range farther than a normal rangefinder, too. Combining two pieces of optics into one saves on space and means you get to carry less, too. Rangefinding binoculars are easy to quickly pull out if you need to take a look at a sudden object in the distance or look over a ridge. These types of binoculars such as X-Vision Optics’ RB1042 rangefinding binoculars provide unmatched clarity. Knowing how far away an object is from you can help you take a better shot.

Riflescopes

Using a riflescope while out in the mountains can help you acquire your target faster and easier. If you purchase a riflescope with decent magnification capabilities, you can help take the guesswork out of your shots.

Spotting Scopes

Spotting scopes give you even more magnification capabilities than rangefinding binoculars. You can get up to 45-60x magnification on certain spotting scopes. You’ll be able to see animals up close and track down the elk you’ve been watching all day.

Purchasing a tripod to put your optics on, such as your spotting scope, can save the trouble of holding the device for hours on end. Make sure to purchase a tripod that will be the height you want it at. If you prefer standing while glassing, make sure the tripod is tall enough to comfortably use. Make sure to invest in quality equipment, so it will last longer and help you out better in the field.

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What Does Eye Relief Mean?

what does eye relief mean

You might have heard the term “eye relief” before, but not everyone knows what it means. Just imagine this—you see a large elk in the distance, you aim to shoot at it, and look through your scope. But your view is blurry, so you keep adjusting it and adjust it some more, and by now the elk is gone. This happens more often than you think. That’s why knowing what eye relief means can help you get that elk you’ve been waiting for all season.

What is It?

Eye relief is the distance from your eye to the lens of your scope or binoculars. If you look through your optics and it’s fuzzy, it means you are viewing with incorrect eye relief distance. It’s important to know what the eye relief distance is of any optics you are using so you can see things clearly and accurately. Typically, the calculation of finding eye relief is complicated. But as a general rule, the higher the magnification, the shorter the eye relief.

Why is it Important?

Why is eye relief important This is especially important if you commonly use a scope. If you don’t get your measurement right, you might get too close to your scope when looking through it. If you are shooting with a powerful gun, the recoil could cause the scope to hit your eye. Consequently, you could come back from the range or from hunting with a black ring around your eye. Getting the correct measurement will help you avoid this problem!

How Much is Enough?

It’s always fun looking for new optics, but just don’t forget about the eye relief. As a starting point, purchasing a scope with at least 3.5 inches of eye relief should be good. However, if you know your gun has a heavy recoil, go for an even higher relief. Also, if you wear glasses, purchasing optics with a longer measurement will help you, too.

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Should I Hunt with a Guide?

men posing with boar shot with hunting guide

If you are new to hunting or want to get into the sport, hunting with a guide can be extremely beneficial. Even if you’ve been hunting all your life, paying for a guide can be worth it. There are guides out there for almost any kind of hunting imaginable. From hogs to deer to elk and more, there are hunts for everyone. So, why should you hunt with a guide?

New Territory

3 men posing with foxes and boars shot with hunting guide assistanceSay you’re in a new location you’ve never hunted in before. Whether that be a completely different state, different terrain, or hunting for an animal you’ve never hunted for before. Hiring a guide will be very helpful. They will know the terrain like the back of their hand. Most guides help people on hunts for a living. So, if you’re hunting an animal you’ve never hunted before, they most likely hunt for them every day during the hunting season. A guide can make sure you stay out of harms way in unfamiliar terrain. They can help steer clear of unwanted predators, as well.

Learn New Tactics

If you’ve always been interested in learning a new hunting tactic, you should hire a guide. For example, say you’ve always wanted to learn how to go bowhunting. Hiring a guide that bow hunts allows you to learn from the best. And they can give you tips and tricks on how to acquire your target. You can learn how to approach certain situations correctly. The way you might approach an animal when rifle hunting may be different than the way you approach an animal when bow hunting.

Beginner

This one may be more obvious, but if you’ve never hunted before, hiring a guide can be super helpful. They can teach you the basics on what you need to know. Not only that, but they can offer good tips and tricks on how to hunt correctly and safely.

There will always be opportunities in which you can hire a guide. So, why not take it?

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Tips for Black Bear Hunting

Black Bear

Black bear hunting season will come around again before we know it. Whether you’ve ever hunted for bear or not, there are always opportunities to step up your game. Going out prepared and knowing what you are doing will help you catch your target. It will also help you to stay safe. Bear are challenging to hunt, so here are some tips that may help you out.

Scout Early

Forest morning sunriseIf you can go out and scout some areas early in the season that are likely to have bears, you’ll be in good shape. It’s difficult to find an area without knowing whether it is likely to have bears or not and end up actually getting one. Putting in the work beforehand will help you once the season is in full swing. Look for areas that bears can find food or potential denning areas. Then, find a place that you can plan to set up and glass from.

Mask Your Smell

Bears have excellent smelling abilities. Try masking your smell by using scent-free soap and detergents. Be cautious of which direction the wind is blowing, too. If you can stay downwind, a bear has less likely of a chance of smelling you.

Hunt at the Right Times of Day

Bears are the most active right away in the morning and right before nightfall. Even though bears can be found during the day, it’s less likely. They will be trying to stay away from any human activity or trying to find shade from the sun. So, spend the early mornings hunting, and then take a break as the day goes on. Rest up and get back out there before nightfall.

Do the Research

There is a lot to know when it comes to bear hunting. How to properly harvest the meat, what equipment works well to help find them, what areas they are known to be at, etc. The more you prepare and do research before the season starts, the better chances you will have.

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How to Care for Your Hunting Optics in Cold Weather

Using rangefinder in cold

With fall coming in full force, we know winter is just around the corner. If you’re planning on heading out for a hunt in cold weather or using your optics in the cold, this guide can help make sure you get the most out of your optics.

Watch the Battery Life

If you plan on using an optics device in cold weather, pay attention to the battery life. Cold weather affects battery life by draining power much faster than normal. It may be a good idea to bring along extra batteries (but keeping them in a warm place) or being diligent about when and where you use your optics. Knowing that the battery life may not last as long as normal will help you prepare and not get caught off-guard.

Don’t Leave on the Ground/Snow

X Vision optic scope

If you are using an optic such as a binocular or rangefinder and want to put it down to aim for your target, don’t put it down on the cold ground or on top of snow. This can cause the battery life to decrease even faster. Or, if you get snow on the device and water gets in between cracks, it could cause damage. Use a neck strap or wrist strap on your device. This way, you don’t have to put it down on the ground after usage.

Carry in Your Pants Pocket or Jacket

Try to keep your optics out of the cold as much as possible. If you can put it in the pocket of your pants to help keep it warm, do it. Or if you can keep it in the pocket of your winter jacket, do that as well. Keeping your optics as warm as much as possible will help keep it operating to the best of its ability.

Always Read the Manual

Even though reading manuals aren’t fun, you should do so to see if there are any tips on keeping your optics performing to the best of its ability. This includes using the correct type of batteries. There may be sections on how the device performs in different conditions. Knowing how to properly care for your device will help it last as long as possible.

Store Unused Devices in Room Temperature

If you aren’t planning on taking your optics out in the winter, store it in a place that is room temperature. You should also take the batteries out of the device, as well.

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Deer Hunting Tips

Deer stand on tree line

Deer hunting season is upon us. Whether you’re a beginner or need a refresher, we’ve got some deer hunting tips to help you have a successful hunt.

Be Quiet

It can be difficult to be quiet when out in the woods where there are branches and brush in every direction. Make sure to try and move at a steady pace. If you make a loud noise, stop moving for a while to let any deer close to you settle back down. Deer can hear much better than humans, so being quiet is extremely important.

Know the Area & Hunt Prepared

Man looking through binoculars

If you want to try out a new area to hunt this season, make sure to go out before your first hunt to get a feel of the terrain. This way you can figure out where you’d like to set up a tree stand, what location might be the best to walk, etc. You should also bring along food, water, and necessary equipment for your hunt. Being prepared also means wearing the right clothing and letting someone close to you know that you are heading out for a hunt. Bring along a first-aid kit as well in case of any emergencies.

Mask Your Smell

Deer have phenomenal smelling abilities. They can easily tell a human is nearby by the way we smell. Even when you think you’ve done a good job covering up your smell, it probably isn’t good enough. Get rid of your smell by using scent-free soap and detergent when you wash your clothes. There are also cover-up deer scents you can buy to help mask your smell as well.

Hunt At the Correct Time

deer hunting tip - use a Tree Stand

Hunting at the right time is essential. Deer typically come out during dusk, dawn, and at night. This means you must plan to hunt at these times, too. If you head into the woods while it is still daylight and set up camp, you can catch them coming out as it turns to nighttime. Also, make sure to know how to hunt safely if you are on public lands.

Know When to Approach a Deer When Shot

If you spot a deer and have a clear shot, take it! If you end up hitting the deer, make sure you know where you hit it. Deer often times run a little way away after it is shot. Knowing where you originally hit it will help you find it afterward. Additionally, once you shoot it, don’t chase after it. If you chase after it, it could end up running farther than it would have originally if you just let it be. Once you find the deer you shot, you should throw a rock or a stick near it before you approach it. Even though it could appear dead, it might not be.

If you follow along with these helpful tips, you will be in a good spot this deer hunting season.