The Best Rangefinders for Hunting

If you love hunting, you probably already have your go-to rifle, or maybe different favorites for different prey.  Having a great rangefinder can make even the trustiest rifle even more trustworthy.  Finding the right rangefinder can seem like a challenge given the many models and brands out there, but understanding the basics and knowing what features mean the most to you can help make the search easier.

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The biggest attributes of any rangefinder are range, accuracy, and clarity.  There are definitely some bells and whistles available, too, but without the big three, you won’t be getting your money’s worth.  Given that quality models can cost anywhere from a few hundred to well over a thousand bucks, doing some homework ahead of time is definitely a must.

Range refers to how close your prey has to be before coming into view.  Depending on where and what you’re hunting, a closer range (500 feet or so) might be acceptable.  If you need to scope out longer distances, there are models that boast ranges of 1500 feet or more.  The longest range available doesn’t mean much if there’s not good accuracy to back it up.  Higher-quality (and usually higher-priced) models can actually be counted upon to perform at or near their maximum range.  If you spring for a model that claims a range of 1000 feet, but is actually only accurate to a distance of around 700 feet, you’ve probably wasted money.  Along with range and accuracy, great clarity is key.  Seeing the outline of a deer 1000 feet away and being reasonably sure he actually is 1000 feet away isn’t as sweet as being able to see his exact position, thereby giving you the best shot.

The next thing you’ll want to consider is the environment in which you will be hunting.  Different rangefinder models handle ambient light situations differently.  Whether you plan to hunt in dimly-lit woods, on a snow-covered plain, during the low light of dusk or dawn, or even under the cover of darkness, make sure that any rangefinder you choose can accommodate your specific lighting conditions.  The best models can handle any amount or type of ambient light, just make sure you don’t neglect this aspect, as there are definitely models that are better suited to some environments than others.  If some of your hunting trips will involve rain or snow,  be sure to look for a model that is water resistant or even waterproof.

For an even better chance at a successful hunt, there are rangefinder models that offer a ballistics compensation feature.  This feature allows you to input basic ammo information and makes trajectory compensations based on that input.  Good rangefinders also offer angle compensation by taking into account the fact that you are rarely shooting at something that is level with you.  In other words, since you usually need to aim up or down, it can be beneficial to have a rangefinder that takes that angle into account when helping you line up your shot.

In addition to the above, the size and weight of your new rangefinder is something to think about.  Some models require tripods that are definitely a hassle for hunters on the move.  Some, on the other hand, are small enough to get lost in the rest of your gear or be hard to fish out of a pocket, especially if your hands are cold or gloved.  The best rangefinder on the planet doesn’t do any good if it ends up being left behind because it’s too heavy or too bulky to be practical.

Finding the best rangefinder to fit your needs and budget is certainly a great way to up the chances that you don’t come home empty handed.  Though hunting trips can certainly be a great getaway from civilization, it’s always better to come home with a better “souvenir” than a bunch of stinky clothes and a story about how the sun got in your eyes.

If you want to find the best rangefinder for your budget, this site offers comparisons, reviews, and pros and cons of some of the most popular models.

You can get more rangefinder reviews and general hunting info at bestrangefinder.reviews.

Hunting Tips for Beginners

If you’ve been thinking that you’d like to take up hunting as a recreational activity or food source, you might be wondering where to begin.  While the thought of spending more time in the great outdoors and experiencing the thrill of your first kill can definitely be exciting and inspiring, you would do yourself a disservice to think that it’s as easy as buying a gun and heading out.  Taking the time to understand some basic hunter safety rules as well as any licensing requirements in addition to knowing when and what you can hunt can help make this a lifelong pursuit rather than a short-lived hobby.

Educate yourself

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Look around for hunter safety courses.  There are online courses, but these should be starting points–a way to familiarize yourself with jargon and other basics.  A locally-hosted program is a must for the beginner.  In addition to basic safety precautions, you’ll learn what licenses or certifications you’ll need.  Most courses also include a shooting portion.  This type of environment, attended by other folks new to hunting and led by qualified and experienced instructors, is your best bet for an introduction to hunting.  An experienced instructor can also recommend the best type of gun and ammo for specific prey.

In many places, a licensed hunter may be accompanied by a non-licensed person.  While you won’t be legally permitted to hunt, it can be a great way to get a feel for the area and the process.  Finding a mentor or otherwise befriending experienced hunters is a fantastic way to learn the tips and tricks that only experience can teach.

You also need to learn about your area’s various hunting seasons.  Killing an animal out of season can result in license revocation or hefty fines.

Arm yourself

A woman looks over the "Wall of Guns" raffle case during the 144th National Rifle Association (NRA) Annual Meetings and Exhibits at the Music City Center in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S., on Saturday, April 11, 2015. Top Republican contenders for their party's 2016 presidential nomination are lining up to speak at the annual NRA event, except New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul who were snubbed by the country's largest and most powerful gun lobby. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Once you’ve decided to become a hunter, you’ll probably want to run out and buy your own gun as soon as possible.  Unless you’ve got enough gun experience to know what works best for you, don’t make your purchase too quickly.  Having friends who hunt and are willing to let you borrow their guns for shooting practice is an excellent way to get a feel for different types of rifles.  Additionally, some shooting ranges provide guns for use on site.  If there’s absolutely no way for you to practice with different models before you buy, doing some online research about various models (how they perform, what they weigh, etc.) can make visiting the sporting goods store a little less intimidating.  Arming yourself with whatever knowledge and practical experience you can may help keep you from being the target of an aggressive salesperson.

Prepare yourself

If you’ve decided that you want to try bagging your first buck on the first day of deer hunting season, don’t wait until then to explore your hunting ground.  Your first hunt is sure to bring excitement, but it can also produce nervousness.  Spending time getting to know the area you’ll be hunting can help with the nerves, especially if you’re not accustomed to that environment.  Familiarizing yourself with the sounds and smells of the trees and other foliage and scouting out possible footpaths or perches can help keep your first hunt from turning into a nightmare of a trip because you weren’t prepared for the dense foliage, got lost when you wandered off a path, or spent too much time trying to find a good vantage point.  You also might consider making your first target something smaller than a deer.  Small game can be a better choice for new hunters because smaller animals are usually more plentiful and less challenging than bigger game.  Early success can increase your confidence moving forward.

Don’t go nuts buying everything in the store that’s aimed at outfitting hunters.  Again, talking to experienced hunters or doing a little online research can make sure you buy what you need without spending a ton of money on stuff you don’t.

Enjoy yourself

If you take the necessary steps to prepare yourself for hunting, you may find that it provides a great recreational outlet and a means of providing food for your family.  Jumping into it blindly can be disappointing at best, disastrous at worst.