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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
For several years, my deer/yote scope of choice has been the Leupold 2.5-8 Matt. Got two EFR 3x-9x on my top air rifles. Two 2.5-8 VXIIIs and a 3.5-10 [non AO] lying around. Then a T-36 for target/load developing work only.
NOW,,,,for ONE year I have been a member of a deer club [PLENTY of yotes, too!] that is in a Georgia Trophy Management county. We can shoot does, and bucks with FOUR points on at least 'one side'. Now, the TRICK is to not shoot a spike with 3 or 5 inchers that can hide behind an ear {appearing to be a DOE~!!}

I have at most 175-200 yards [one stand on a road] that I can actually shoot at. With my old favorite 2.5-8 set at 8, I can see pretty well [good resoluting I'd say]. I am wondering about putting the 3.5-10 on my main rifle, a .250 S.A.I. just for setting up to 10X for head examination.
Got to wondering if any of you are hunting in an area with the same requirement. What scope do you use?
Got to say this,,,I've been a Leupold fan for 40 years,,but since they've changed their scopes around [VX this,,,Vari X that,,etc.], I think they messed up. It took me a while to go from Vari X II scopes and pay the extra $$ for the VariX IIIs, but I believed it was worth the extra after buying one. But I'm an old poot, and now my desire is to forget trying to explore buying more Leupolds "just" to find out which is best for the money.
I've had dozens of Leupolds,,,and one Nightforce, bunches of cheapies, old steel tube Weavers [liked them even tho they didn't transmit much light!], Simmons [cheapies],,etc.
I used to think I found my top scope choice in Leupold's 6.5-20, and went thru about 5 of them. Even bought and had no problem with their 8.5-25x although some said they were 'problematic'.
Guess I'm ramblin on,,[ Geezin'..?! ].
Tell me what's on your favorite deer/yote rifle,,and why.
Thanks,
Alan in GA
.....geezin'.....:D
 

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I've got a 3.5X10 Leupold......

One of my "deer" rifles wears a 3.5X10 Vari XIII and has since 1979. I can see no handicap to this scope at all. Though, I can't really see much advantage in the woods between it and my 3X9's either. I'm wondering if maybe a 4X14 would be a better choice if you need a boost in power. You still have the "base" magnification of 4 which is good enough in the event of a close up shot but you can reach out with the 14 power.

A Nikon Buckmaster is rated 4.5X14 and runs about $250 at The Optic Zone. That would be a good choice I think.

Bushnell Elite 3200 in 4X12 runs about the same and a Weaver Grand Slam is about $350. I'm not sure that the Weaver is worth the extra hundred bucks over the Nikon. Just my humble opinion.

I did use a 6.5X20 scope for deer this year and that was too much, which I figured it would be. A long story is attached to that.......

Good luck.
 

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Hi Alan,

In my experience, for hunting Whitetail and the like, either a Leupold 4x12 or 4/5x14 A.O. or the Burris 4x12 Mini are top choicess. They're all light weight, short in length, with plenty of eye relief. I don't hunt deer anymore but if I did, that Leupold 4.5x14 A.O. with the B&C reticle is probably the best pick for big game within 50-500 yardages. The Leupolds are expensive and the Burris is actually quite reasonbly priced.
 

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How Thick Are Your Woods Alan ?

.....in South Louisiana the woods are pretty thick. I have a 4.5 X 14 Zeiss that I am going to move to another rifle because the 4.5 is too much for most conditions. Although we do get to make an occasional 200 yard shot, it is an exception. We average a little under 100 yard shots and the most popular scopes are variables in the 3X9 range. One thing that has helped me in the optic department was to get a good set of binoculars. My binoculars are only 8 power but you can hold them to your eyes all day long. I can see much more detail through good binoculars. I usually don't pick up my rifle until it is time to shoot. -Cliff-
 

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Going 8 to 10 is not going to seem like much

I am out west and use 4.5x14 for deer, elk and others down to yotes and sage rates. I have used a VX111 6.5x20 on my 220 and shot yotes in my lap, just takes a little practice on mount so your in the scope. Have shot deer at 10 yards with the 4.5 head shot no problem, but if its running forget it until at least 30-40 yards. I don't think a scope will help a lot. The best pair of Bino's will, seeing in stereo vision(with both eyes makes a big difference in counting point in my estimation.

LEN
 

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I live here in GA as well. I think by going to a higher power scope you will give up some things.. and hunting a lot longer than I have you know better than I

You coul dtry a 4-16 power, you still have the low end of 4X (which can be way to much in brushy places) but if your stand hunting it shouldn't be much of a problem. The Bushnell 4200 is a great scope in 4-16, also a Sightron is a great scope in the same line. I'm a Leupold fan as well, you always have the option of looking for a used Leupold, but they hold their price really well. If you just wanted to borrow a 4-16 to try for a month or so I culd loan you my Bushnell 4200 4-16 and you could check it out to see what you think.

Clint
 

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Alan, you will fall into one of two camps.....

You like the low power or you are intimidated by the high power meaning that you feel as if you may have trouble with finding the animal in your socpe. The vast majority of coyotes that I have ever killed was with a Leupold 3.5-10 AO because there were not any quality scopes on the market in higher power that I knew of. When I went to the Leupold 4-14, I was able to hit running yotes most of the time. More yote in the scope meant greater probability of a hit. Then I discovered the Bushnell 4200 in 4-16 which I feel as if it is a hands down better scope than the Leupold 4-14. I sold 4 leupold 4-14's and replaced them with the 4200 4-16...never looked back.

On a clear day, I can see my 7mm bullet holes at 300 yards with the 4200
4-16, I have no problems seeing 17 caliber bullet holes at 200 yards...who needs a spotting scope?!

Some people will argue that you need clarity instead of power, with the 4200 4-16 you have both. You have the added advantage of having tiny target knobs that do not get in the way. It will take some common sense to determine what power you need to set your scope on when you sit down on the stand.

Other folks on this board speak highly of the Nikon 4-16 that Paul Workman said was on sale for $289 some where...seems like to me, with all the scopes that Paul and PH has that the Nikon Monarch would be the first purchase on my list if I were in the market for a new scope in that power range.

When you are trying to determine the size and quality of a deer's rack at 200 yards, you may only have a split second to make the to shoot or not shoot as the deer steps into the shooting lane. You will be able to make the determination with a good 12x scope, but why hamstring youself with a 12x when you can have a 16x for about the same money...power is there if/when you need it! On 300+ shots, the 16x is king. The 16x on 300 yards shots allows you to see little saplings and various other brush that may be obstructing the bullet, low power scopes will never allow you to see these obstructions.

I walk to the beat of a different drummer, no doubt. I hunt with a Pentax 6-24 on my 7 Mag and a Burris 8-32 on my 7 STW and I have never had any probems with finding the target in the scope. It is very rewarding to head shoot does in the head at 250-350 yards, it is the same as killiing a trophy buck. You don't see many trophy bucks, but you can sure head shoot a lot of does...puts another challenge in deer hunting...I love to shoot my gun!

Please don't forget what I mentioned about head shooting does at long range. Most people can't imagine how many deer we can kill here in the South, and most of the deer are not quality deer so we make up for it with quantity. When I shoot 4 does in the head at 200+ yards, it really gives me a feeling of having a very successful year deer hunting having made some really great shots. You have to really know your rifle and load, wind assessment, yardage, and have a good solid rifle rest in your stand.

If you make the decision to go low power, then sit in stands where your shots will be limited to 150 yards and you will be ok...200 yards is stretching the 8x to it's extreme limit when it comes to rack assessment. Here in SC, it seems that deer always walk with their noses into the wind, so pick your stands accordingly. I like to sit at least 100 yards away from the deer trail so that they hopefully will not smell me, even when using "Forget the Wind".

The high power scopes really come into their own when you are shooting at deer crossing on a broadside shot. On a broadside shot, how do you see clearly what the rack looks like on the off side? The answer is more power.
This kind of debate will go on forever because guys that do not shoot a lot really have a lot of trouble with a high powered scope, especially guys that only shoot durinig deer season and rarely ever shoot their gun except to verify their sight in. Other guys like to hunt in thick timber, so the 3-9 is perfect for them. I say again, the 4-16 will do it all, but there is a price to be paid for the higher powered quality optics compared to the 3-9's, and to most people, price justifies the little use that the scope sees.
 

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My thoughts

I also have a 2.5x8 Leupold on my Deer/Antelope/Sheep rifle and I have an old 3x9 VariXII on my Elk rifle. The 3x9 VariXII is my favorite big game scope because of its good field of view and forgiving eye relief. I hunt Deer/Antelope in open country in OR and MT and Elk in thick country in MT and OR. I have a 4.5x14 Weaver Grand Slam on my Coyote calling rifle and am going back to a lower power scope. I have a Leupold 6.5x20 on my .223 Prairie Dog rifle but would be just as happy with something in 4x12 (I shot PDs for years with a Ruger # 1 in .223 and that Leupold 2.5x8 and it worked just fine). In a Deer or Elk or Coyote rifle it's important to me to be able to get into action NOW and a light-weight, low powered, generous eye relief, large field of view scope helps make that happen. I use my binoc or (if needed) a spotting scope to evaluate heads. PS: I've killed Elk, Deer and Antelope with a fixed 4x and that worked great, also.
 

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My big field rifle has a 3.5x10x50ii Leupold vari x. I have used it for 2 years & like it better than anything I hAve ever used for big fields. This is a big scope & will screw up the balance of a short action Ruger. I know Keith is a big believer in Bushnell 4200's & they are very good scopes but they are also big scopes although not as heavy as a comperable Leupold. My best rifle has a Leupold 2.5x8 on it, most of the rifles I actually use have Zeiss 3x9's on them. Our club rules makes it expensive to shoot a buck so I would simply pass a questionable buck.

Bottom line for me is that big scopes have their place just not on a all rounding using rilfle where you might hunt in the swamp in the morning & food plot in the afternoon.
 

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Get some good binoculars

For seeing the detail needed to verify a "doe" doesn't have horns laying next to her ears at 200 yards I recommend a pair of good binoculars. Spend the same on them as you would a VX-3 and you will have a tool that will serve you better than a higher powered scope.

In my mind scopes are a tool used to aim the rifle, binoculars are what you use to sort out what you want to aim your rifle at. If a doe won't stay in the open long enough for you to lift your binoculars, verify she is a shooter, let your bino's down and raise your rifle then it just wasn't meant to be with that doe, another doe will show up to take her place.

With good binoculars you can constantly scan back into the edges of the brush where mister big is and find him in time to be ready when he sticks his head out for a few seconds.

I generally hunt with a set of West German made 10x50s for picking out game and rifle with a Leopold 4x or 3x9 set at about 4x. Either scope is perfectly adequate for shots on game well beyond 400 yards under all legal light conditions. The only time the 3x9 sees high power is at the range, but I can still routinely knock out less than 1 minute groups with the 4x.

I have more $$$ in the glass hanging from each of my three boys necks than I do in the Leupy glass on their rifles and they spend about 70% of their hunting time glassing looking for game. Here is a photo of how they hunt.


A few years ago my two youngest boys and I were hunting a stand that overlooked a small opening about 75 yards by 75 yards in an old growth cedar thicket. The older boy was glassing the edges of the thricket and spotted a bobcat mousing about 25 yards back in the brush. He told me to try to call it in so I lip squeaked a few times and out he came. My youngest boy at age 6 put it to him with a 7TCU. We would have never seen this cat if he had not been glassing back into the edges of the thicket.


By the way I am completely comfortable using higher powered scopes. When I was younger and not necessarily wiser I constantly hunted with the 3x9 on 9x and had no problem finding game in the scope when it came time to shoot. I shoot both smallbore and highpower rifle silhouette shooting offhand with Weaver and Leupold scopes in the 20x to 24x range. I just prefer a well balanced easy to handle hunting rifle when I hit the woods and something from a Leupold straight 4x, 2x7, 2.5x8, or 3x9x40 gets me to a gun that feels right in my hands.

I'll climb down from my soapbox now.
 

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You tell your boys for me that was EXCELLENT TEAMWORK. Nice size on that kitty too.
 

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Alan,
I've got to weigh in on the side of the folks who are advising you to invest in quality binocs. I have used several different scopes ranging from 2.5x8 to 4x16 for deer. Where I do most of my hunting now, my shots are rarely more than 50 yards, but I would feel comfortable taking a 150 yard shot with the Bushnell 3200 3x9 I currently use.

What I wouldn't be comfortable with is using that scope to determine headgear. I carry a pair of Brunton 10x50s and wouldn't be without them. I've avoided killing more than one button buck with them. I believe in good glass and have several Luepolds, Bushnell 4200s and others, but I don't think the scope quality & power is as important as the binoc.

YMMV,
Rick
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
great info guys,,,I'll detail myself a bit more,,,,

As for the 6.5x20 Leupolds [5 or so], I LOVED them,,,,and although a tad bulky,,they made me feel like I was going to be able to do some precision shooting at 'any range'. HOWEVER,,sat in a large grassy pasture below a wooded hilly area, with deer prone to wander out into the grass as far as 450 yards away. Just right for a .300 Win Mag Pasture cannon [at that time]. When it got darker, those scopes, even the Multi Coat IV versions, got DARK - even when set down to 6.5X~! So although I was very comfortable [been using cross hairs in scopes since I started shooting rifles in early 1960s] with them set at 6.5X even in woods,,they did not transfer LIGHT well at all during those great last 15 minutes of shooting light~! Sooooooooo, those last minutes of daylight are the best times of the day and a scope, even my loved 6.5x20 Leupolds were 'handicapped'.
In this same 425 to farthest corner pasture,,I did lots of "looking" thru my 2.5-8X Leupolds. Looked at lots of feeding deer [not doe day] in the 350 yard area, and decided the 8X setting was ALL I needed to do perfect shot placement anywhere on the deer I wanted. Hence my going to that scope for 'everything'.
I have been totally satisfied,,and still may BE with the 2.5-8X Matts I have. I wound up with a 3.5-10 Leupold in a gun trade, and just wondered if the 10X might be better than 8X to see 'hidden finger spikes' when doe hunting-a 'no no' in our county.
NOW,,all that said,,I HAVE a set of good 10x50s,,I just am not in the habit of taking them along ~~~ but I guess I WILL from now on. I have been taking a very INefficient pair of 8x15s [!] since they are so compact,,but that's false economy I know.
So, I'll keep the old faithful 2.5x8 matts [I have two] on and sighted in,,and try to enjoy my 10x50s more!
Great posts.
 

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My most popular setup....

for deer is my Remington 308 with a Weaver V16 set at 10X. My most used yote rifle is my Ruger VT in 220 swift with a Nikon 4.5x14 set at 12X. When I first started deer hunting I didn't like a lot of scope power. Varmint hunting has changed that. I am more comfortable with higher power scope setting and lighter triggers.....even if it's not needed for deer it still just feels better. That said.....I still use a wide variety of rifles for deer. My newest is a Pedersoli Sharps in 45/90 and a peep sight. A far cry from my norm. I do like the set triggers though.
 

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I have Leupold 2X7's on my 300 Win. Mag. and my Featherweight 70/280 Rem. I've used them for years on Elk, Deer, 'Lope and Coyotes when I wanted to hurt them bad dead. On my Varmint rifles, I use Bushnel Elite 4200's in 6X24. 8X32 and one 4X12X42?mm. On the Varmint rifle in 204 that I call Coyotes with, I use a Burris 3X9 Ballistiplex usually set at about 4 power. Godsdog.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Leupolds I've owned:

2X EER [2]
3x fixed
4x fixed
7.5x fixed [an oldie]
1x-4x Vari X II [2]
2x-7x Vari X II [2]
3x-9x Vari X II [2 I think]
3x-9xEFR Vari X II [2]
2.5x-8x Vari X III [3, gave one to brother in law]
3.5x-10x Vari X III [1]
6.5x-20x Vari X III [5 I think,,1 was an EFR]
8.5x-25x Vari X III [1]
.
might have been more,,I forget.
I now have only the two 2.5x-8x, one 3.5-10x, two 3x-9xEFRs,,,that's it.
I like Leupolds,,,at least the ones where I knew what I was buying. I've quit looking at the Leupold catalogues.
Doc has a 2.5x-8x that has dots on crosshairs [Premier Reticle job] and I REALLY liked it. Maybe I need to send one of mine in for a dot setup.
The 2x-7x were my first real 'quality' scopes. Paid $109 for the first one new. When turned down to 2x, I noticed the field of view 'shrank' at the outer rim during the last bit of power adjustment. Others reported same thing. Went to the 2.5x-8x because I thought the 2x-7x was 'perfect' power,,,and figured the VariX IIIs would be even better.
back to bed.
 

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Old Eyes

With my OLD EYS if I was to go deer hunting again I'd have to have 4X16 on a deer rifle . Any deer rifle that I had a vari on it seem that I always end using the highest power when I made my shot. I'v never had a problem finding my target with any scope up to 20X power . But this is with OLD EYES. Art
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
cheapy for Montana,,,

several rifles have the Simmons 4.5-14 AO on them now. Got them CHEAP [under $100]and would like to say they don't do well,,but they DO!
My Montana rifles have been:
Ruger 10/22 in 22LR with Shilen heavy barrel [ it did not go this last year-I like LOTS of splat now]
CZ 452 Sporter/American in 17HMR [been several times and still goes]
CZ 527 17 Ack. Hnt [THE rifle of all trips!]
CZ 527 .221FireBall [went for 500 rounds this last trip - becoming a 17 Mach IV sometime soon].
Ruger 77 .243 Win,,,went first trip ever when DOC and I went,,,a bit of OVERKILL!,,but fun [went the one time] had a Leu 6.5-20.
.
..
... the NIGHTFORCE 2.5-10 went on two rifles [not mine] this last spring and did GREAT. Possilby a 'best scope' choice if you have the $$$.

.The power of 4.5-14x was a great all around power in the Simmons. I've not owned a Leupold in this power choice, but I'm SURE it would be excellent.
 
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