Dec 16, 2006

Distance and Judging


Rumors float around on the internet, in Sportsman's and Cabela's, in the local gun shops and by word of mouth from one buddy to another. Every year we chase rumors. Last year we chased rumors for weeks. None of them panned out. Most of the time we never saw a buck even remotely similar to the one described. Some of the time we found the buck we were sent to find - never was it as big as promised.

Do hunters just lie and start rumors to screw with people? I don't think so, at least not for the most part. I like to think hunters tell the truth and are all around good people.

Then why are so many rumors, year after year, simply not true.

I believe there are several reasons - one of which has to do with distance.

In order to accurately judge an antelope's horns we've determined that you have to be close! REAL CLOSE. Perhaps 50 yards with your 10x binos. That should usually be close enough. Are you surprised with that ridiculous and unrealistic number? I know, it sucks, but it's true. It's tough to get within 300 yards of most antelope on The Plateau, let alone 50 yards.

You can multiply it out for spotting scopes and it looks like this:

50 yds - 10x
100 yds - 20x
200 yds - 40x
300 yds - 60x

The 300 yard number looks reasonable at first glance, but there's more to it than just the numbers. If at 300 yards there's bright sunlight you're usually going to be looking through a bunch of heat waves. This will distort your view and render accurate field judging useless. These numbers are only accurate under perfect light conditions and with top of the line glass. With poor light and/or poor glass you'd have to cut a 1/3 to 1/2 off those numbers depending on how confident you are with your judging abilities.

What does all this have to do with misleading rumors? Next time you hear a rumor of a 90 inch buck or a 100 inch buck ask the hunter how far away the buck was when he saw it. Ask him what kind of binoculars he was using. If he says 15x, then run the other direction, because he shouldn't have been using binoculars - that was a trick question. If the buck was 500 yards away you have enough information to form a pretty good opinion of what the hunter really saw.

If you have any thoughts or questions please comment below.

Tally Ho.

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