Some guy's actually carry those things around with them while hunting; they're animals! When I lived in Alaska I bought a really nice Bushnell Trophy, I think it was, been awhile. I though I'd carry it into the mountains where I could spot sheep and moose. Well I'm not sure what got me first, the spotting scope or the tripod! What I discovered was that a good set of binoculars, which I also don't like to carry a lot, worked just as well, maybe better.
The advantage to the spotting scope seem's to be that once you spot an animal with the binoculars, you grade it with the spotter to see if you really want to go after it. If it's so far away that you need 25x to grade it, I don't want to walk that far in the first place and at 25x you'll have a hard time finding the animal and seeing much thru the mirage. That's a pretty big piece of equipment to carry around just for that. In over 45 yrs of hunting, I have never seen anyone carry one, but, I know there are those that do and guides that do.
Now with all I've said that sounds pretty negative, even to me, I bought another last year. Actually all I wanted it for was to look at bullet holes in paper target's down range, holes I could see just fine thru a 9x-14x rifle scope! But it is impressive to have a spoting scope setting in the bench next you. It defines who you are!
I did find it's place tho. I stopped at the Sheep Mountain viewing area in Kulane, Yukon last trip up there and I didn't have to wait on anyone getting done with the scopes they provide there to look at sheep! That one little use was worth the price of this scope to me. Of course it was from Sportsmans Whse and has "Winchester WT-541C" written on it in red letters. It came with a nice hard case, a soft case, a strap and a small tripod for $80! I doubt this is what anyone would want for serious spoting, Actually I kinda like the thing just can't find a really good use for it. Also not sure I'd enjoy viewing mirage for several hours thru it.
If you really want a spotter and plan on using it much, I suggest moving up out of the $80 bracket!
I would like to get one mainly for hunting(more like looking and wondering when its going to be my turn) over at naches/yakima area, for the sheep and goats.. I really cant use it for my west side elk/deer hunts there are usually more than one tree in the way. I dont mind spending some money but it has to be less than my wife would notice. Dont know if that slims down the potentials or not.
For something of very good quality (ED glass), light weight (only 1 pound) and small size (8") that would not be a burden to always have with you take a look at the Nikon 50ED http://www.cameralandny.com/optics/nikon.pl?page=nikon8320 I think you will find it to be a great "tool" to have along with you.
There is one tip I have learned over the years in hunting whitetails in late season snow. Do not overlook soybeans left standing on the edges of fence rows, woods, creeks, buildings wherever it might be, this is where the deer will be while the food lasts during late season. December/January will pull deer in from some distance away to feed on the easy to get to food.
I killed one of my nicest bucks off of a very small patch of soybeans that was left after rains created a...