Advice for a bad glasser...


New Member
Apr 9, 2016
Tucson, Arizona
Hey all,

I'm hoping to get some advice about glassing. I'll start off by saying that I am terrible at glassing! And i'll be the first to admit that I don't do it much. It's not eye fatigue so much that I just really struggle to spot animals. Why? I just have a pair of Nikon... I think monarchs? Anyways, I want to go out and practice on the weekends in areas that would have mule and coues deer. Aside from "practice practice practice", which I plan to do, what else can you offer? What worked for you when you started? Thank you so much!


Staff member
Feb 22, 2011
Reno Nv
There is some great articles in Eastmans about glassing and grid patterns. I'll see if I can fine some for ya and copy them here.

Tim McCoy

Veteran member
Dec 15, 2014
In addition to some sort of grid or pattern, here are a few suggestions. Scan close by, often just with the naked eye to check for Captain Obvious, don't forget Major Close either... Then get your glass very steady (tripod) and leave it on a spot and move your eyes not the bino, then move to the next grid or spot, hold and move eyes. Lastly, don't skyline and then be very sneaky moving into a glassing spot, they key almost immediately on skylined movement and can disappear before you start glassing.


Veteran member
Mar 28, 2016
Gypsum, Co
One thing that has helped me is that in nature most things are vertical so when glassing for a animal look for things that are horizontal such as a animals back. That and for the tell tail things on a animal such as something white or yellowish where it just doesn't look right.

For glassing in Arizona do a lot of glassing for javelina. If you can spot them you can spot just about anything.


Veteran member
Mar 24, 2012
nothing wrong with those monarchs. 10x42 is a great size. if your focus is set in and there are animals where you are looking you should be able to pick them out. like what was said, anything that looks off from terrain around is worth a longer look. get use to spotting animals on the move in mornings and eves, watch them bed down then watch them disappear.


Very Active Member
Jun 16, 2015
I have the monarch 3 10x42 and while they aren't swaros they are pretty damn good. Thought about upgrading but when compared to others didn't feel it was worth it. They work, just get the eyes and mind to work better.

Umpqua Hunter

Veteran member
May 26, 2011
North Umpqua, Oregon
Two things, take your time at a glassing spot, and find a way to steady your binoculars, that can be resting your back against something and resting your elbows on your knees, or using a tripod.

I first learned to glass in the Yukon hunting with a guide nearly 3 times my age who didn't want to put much effort into the hunt. He didn't like to "hunt" so we sat on little glassing knolls for hours at a time, and I just glassed and glassed and glassed (the time part). I spotted a big grizzly and a moose, neither of which he felt up to going after, but it was my intro to glassing.

I've had two major steps up in my glassing and both were on optics upgrades, but according to the others, it sounds as if your optics are fine.

If animals are moving, I tend to do fine slowly moving my optics while I glass (glassing while slowly moving my optics in a grid). I can cover more ground that way.

When animals are bedded it seems I do better by keeping my glasses still (motionless) until I have studied everything in the field of view then bump the glasses over to the next new piece of terrain and repeat the process.

I feel for you though, I have found blacktails here in Oregon to be very difficult to glass up.


Veteran member
Nov 30, 2014
Biggest piece of advise of every gotten don't look where you can see, look where you can see. Animals have clean lines, trees, rocks, and under brush generally hahaves rough lines. I look for straight, smooth lines.


Very Active Member
Apr 26, 2013
Colorado, was Az.
Nothing wrong with those Nikon monarchs. I have the 5's and 7's... 10x42 and 8x42. Like Tim McCoy said, use a tripod, set it in the area to be scanned and just move your eyes in that particular field. I find myself overlapping the grid pattern quite often and seems to help me find more animals..


Active Member
May 18, 2015
Eastern Oregon
It helps if you know a little about the area and game you are glassing. In any given area there will be areas which the animals just don't use much. For instance, a patch of some type of brush they feed heavily on. Maybe a spring or water hole in dry country. Concentrate on the areas the critters are more apt to be using. There are vast areas that don't have much to offer for deer or elk. Mule deer can absolutely disappear right in front of you once it warms up. Elk like to hit the timber and deep shade. That is what appears to be happening to me anyway. Keep at it, it's not impossible to accomplish. BB


Veteran member
For me, the biggest factors are slow and steady.

Do a first look with your naked eye, then glass close by, then the easy to glass areas like open spaces (especially near the edges), then do a slower look and finally a super-slow look where you try to pick apart every bush and tree.

For the last two, I have found I need a tripod. I can rest my elbows, but I get uncomfortable fast. I guess I'm not as flexible as I used to be. When your glass is really steady on a tripod it is much, much easier to see. Also, I look all around the field of view, then move my binos or spotter instead of just looking through the center.

Experience helps too. You end up paying more attention to places like just inside timber or aspen, below and above rimrock, behind lone trees on the upper 1/3 of the mountain, etc. The more times you locate bedded deer, the better you'll get because memories will highlight certain types of areas and things that stood out like a small white patch, horizontal line, antlers barely above sage and so forth. Favor shady areas.
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Veteran member
Mar 24, 2012
tripods are awesome. was hard getting use to them, as far as packing tripod and then setting up but has made huge diff if planning to glass for a while. a few years back I glassed a hill over and over, I kept feeling like I was missing something but couldn't find anything. I put up spotting scope tripod and locked in binos.... without those tiny shakes I spotted a big buck bedded in some thick buck brush, his tines were all that gave him away. it was a blown stalk but that pod found a place in my bag from then on.


Veteran member
Nov 3, 2011
Bitterroot Valley, MT.
3 tips here... short and sweet:

1) Get as high as you can and where you can see the most ground.
2) Be patient. I usually glass from the same spot min of 3 hrs. Sometimes 3 days.
3) As mentioned, get steady. I don't do a tripod if I'm not using a spotter. I use hiking sticks. The top of the handle.

Not that short I know:)

Sent from my SM-N900V using Tapatalk


Active Member
Mar 26, 2015
I love a tripod and good glass, my spotter is set up as well to really zoom in on a spot that looks interesting. Next is take a chair/cushion or something to save your butt. You need to be comfortable to last a long time while glassing. I susually take an air filled duck hunting cushion that is also water proof for soggy ground. Don't listen to the kids when they say " lets look at another place" be confident there are animals in the area and tear it apart with your glass.

I spotted this bear sleeping with her yearling cub. I looked at it for a while with my EL 10x42 Swaro, then had to really find out if it was two bears sleeping so I put the spotter on it. The colors gave them away and then the little guy moved a bit and his shape changed and I knew I had a couple snoozing bears. Cool being out seeing stuff that not many get to see. Good luck, nothing is better than experience and time in the glass.



New Member
Feb 27, 2016
3 tips here... short and sweet:

1) Get as high as you can and where you can see the most ground.
2) Be patient. I usually glass from the same spot min of 3 hrs. Sometimes 3 days.
3) As mentioned, get steady. I don't do a tripod if I'm not using a spotter. I use hiking sticks. The top of the handle.

Not that short I know:)

Sent from my SM-N900V using Tapatalk
I'll second his advice, but i always bring a tripod, Its always with me if im glassing.


Veteran member
Feb 25, 2014
Eastern Nebraska
Lots of great advice on here. I used to struggle with this as well. I also have a pair of Nikons that I used to use. I "upgraded" to a set of Vortex binos that I find very comfortable and now I am much more focused and comfortable glassing. The animals were visible with the Nikons but I often didn't stay in the binos long enough to find them.


Active Member
This thread is getting me pumped to go glassing!!! This is one area of my hunting strategy that I've never felt confident in. I just bought a new pair of vortex binos and am looking for a good packing tripod. Can't wait to get out and look around.


Oct 12, 2015
Loveland, CO
Just about everything has already been mentioned, but I'll throw out a few things. A tripod is a must-have, and it sounds like you're already considering it. I have cheap 10x50 Pentax binos (under $200 15 yrs ago) and a cheap, wobbly 14-oz $30 tripod, but because of that tripod I consistently spot the smallest of animals or sheds from a mile a more away (even tweety birds). During my coues hunt, a friend scanned hillsides next to me with his $2500 Leicas atop his high-end $500 tripod, and I was able to locate animals before he could. That's not to say I'm a better glasser, but I think I was more efficient. To be fair, in super low-light or harsh conditions he found a few more than me. Later, I borrowed his tripod and found that the main difference between his and mine (besides the 5+ lbs of weight) was the stability in wind and when the binos are lightly touched with your face. I think that a mid-range tripod is sufficient for most people.

A couple more things I'd like to add is that human vision is excellent at picking up movement, so be sure to very carefully scan an area with your naked eye as well. I've easily spotted animals within 30 seconds from a 1/2 mile away before I put the binos up to my face due to their body color standing out or from some movement. Aside from glassing technique, I think that it's important to gain new angles on the country you're looking at. If you don't see anything after an hour of glassing, consider walking 100 yds or go to the next hilltop for a new perspective. Especially with bedded animals, sometimes you can only spot a sliver of them from a particular angle (some luck helps too).

And lastly, know when to walk away to a new area. In the past I've spent hours in an area only to realize that I wasted my time and that the animals were one hillside over or buried in bushes beyond belief. It's an odds game too. As you're walking to that new area, you have the added benefit of accidentally jumping up animals and getting an off-hand shot. I've had a number of close encounters with trophy coues but sadly most were during my elk hunts :(. During my last coues hunt I was with 2 other good glassers and we spent 4 days straight glassing incredible terrain but couldn't find a single buck. I made the call to still hunt their bedding areas and ended up with a 107" buck on my final evening. Sometimes you have to be dynamic and make something happen, like you're going into close quarters combat. Good luck!


Active Member
Dec 9, 2014
Only thing I have to add is something I picked up second hand from some SpecOps snipers. (US military has spent millions on glassing technique research) don't scan top to bottom left to right like reading a book. Go vertical. Up and down across your sight picture. Small slivers, half dozen or so to cover the entire area your glass is capturing.


Veteran member
Apr 23, 2016
I used to buy the cheap binos. never again! there is a lot of open country out here in the west and I am firm believer in letting my eyes do my walking.
I now have a pair of swarovski slc 10x50s and I love em. they cost but they also last. have had them for around 20 years now and never had an issue ,with the exception of replacing the eyecups twice.. in both cases swarovski, mailed them to me . no charge within a couple days of my phone call. swarovski binos and customer service are out standing.

I agree with crzy-cntryby THAT IS THE WAY I GENERALLY GLASS ALSO,(just seems more comfortable ,to me) though depending on lay of land , I sometimes may go horizontal also. important thing is grid pattern so you don't miss anything. when you finish grid repeat again and again. never no when something new may appear.
I have also found it to be helpfull to occasionally put the glasses down and just scan open eyed. I have done this on many occasions and seen something I totally missed with the glasses.

I think the best advise is , buy the very best glass you can afford and it will be kind to you.
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