If you are planning on packing in for your hunt as I believe that you are I wouldn't worry about a spotting scope and concentrate on a good quality pair of 10x42 binoculars. You are not going to want to pack both around when you are hunting so why have a spotting scope with you just taking up weight and space that could be used by something else. In most hunting situations spotting scopes are over rated unless you are after goats or sheep.
Like Critter said I have never carried an spotting scope around in my pack when deer or elk hunting. I did when I drew my goat tag and I also use one a lot when I'm antelope hunting in Wyoming. It really makes a difference in those situations to decide if it's worth getting ready for a stalk or not.
In that price range and the one I use myself is the Nikon Prostaff, Not sure the power range but it does cover it pretty well. That's about all I was willing to spend as well for the limited use I get from it.
I have a 12x45x50 Burris Landmark Spotting Scoe in a compact model and it works real well for hunting as it is small enough to pack along and it still has enough power to see out a ways. I know there are some that are more powerful but for the type of areas I hunt this works the best for me. I do have a 20x60x80 and it would be great for hunting, just too big to carry all day.
DEER Rem742; My only question to you would be, "When would you use the spotting scope"? I bought a nice Nikon spotting scope a number of years ago, right in the price range you mentioned. I thought I'd use it for just about everything. I put it in my backpack, along with a compact tripod, and carried it on several hunts. I just knew that I'd see an animal a long ways away and "need" it to judge whether I wanted it or not. NOT!
What I found was that it took a lot of work and time to get it out of my pack, set up the tripod, mount it and take a look. Unless the animal is a very long ways away, you may not have time for all that.
Next thing I realized is that I am NOT a judge of trophy animals. I don't know the difference between a 275 bull and a 300 bull. I'm just not that good. Unless you are proficient at judging antlers or horns, the spotting scope really doesn't help you all that much. I really believe that good spotting scopes are wonderful in the hands of an experienced trophy hunter, but are often just in the way of the average guy out after a nice animal.
I would rather put my money into a very good pair of binoculars. You don't want the huge set as they will wear you out before the day is over, but you also don't want a little set. Go for something in the middle, like a quality set of 10X42's. There are some very good glasses out there, so shop around and get the best. The cost of a set of good bino’s is well worth it. They are worth their weight in gold.
When I'm looking at a 6X6 bull or a 5X5 muley buck, I don't need a spotting scope to know that I would really like to harvest that animal. Bottom line; are you after a true trophy or just a very good animal? If you will have the time to sit and glass from a long distance and the knowledge of how to accurately judge, go ahead and invest in a good spotting scope. By the way, after lugging mine around for several years, I sold it.
i actually use my spotting scope for everything. i have it rigged conveniently to a mount on the frame of my pack. all i have to do is take the pack off and grab the scope. i have a burris compact scope it's 6-24 power and it's super light to carry.
lots of times i spot with my binos, but i bust out my spotting scope often. if you're hunting big country, it really saves your legs. why approach a group of does in the early season to see if there's any bone on their head when you can just bust out your spotting scope?
i'm young and in great shape, so i don't feel the extra 2 pounds.
Over the years I have seen several elk and deer hides left in the woods by hunters and I have to wonder why they do this? I fully understand and agree about getting the hide off the animal as soon as possible to cool the meat, but why not pack out the hide with you and use it? As far as I know there are no state laws that require you to take the hide home, but to me why waste such a beautiful part of the animal? Some might think they have no use for the hide or it costs too much to tan....