The two deer fed into the soybean plot in the early morning light... I could see them out there in the mist and quickly brought the binos up to look at the deer.
I could see one was larger than the other - but I could not put antlers on either one of them...
I switched to the rifle scope and had the same problem... I could see the deer but could not tell exactly what they were.
It was well into legal shooting light and I struggled in vain, for several moments trying to figure out what they were.
As they turned and started to file out of the plot, I managed to get a final glimpse through the binoculars - it was two bucks and one was a great 8 or 10 pointer with high and wide antlers... but they moved out into the pines and faded from sight before I could determine EXACTLY what they were and get the rifle into position.
That was the end of the lower end glass for me - that day. That scope and pair of binoculars were gone before weeks end!
I had invested too much time, effort and money into hunting to allow that one aspect to deprive me of a chance to harvest a good buck - or to at least know what a particular deer is!
I moved to high end glass - which I think all hunters should consider.
I have taken many deer - and passed on a good many more - that good glass AFFORDED me the opportunity to make the correct decision.
I am not saying pay $3000 for a scope (which is easy to do) but here is what I propose.... and it is in two parts.
Spend the same as or up to 2 times the money on your scope that you spent on your rifle.
If the rifle was $500.00, spend $500 to $1000 on the scope. This type of money will get you some incredible glass - some of which could be American and some of which would be decidely European.
Several American manufacturers offer very good glass in this range and now, many of the European vendors are starting to offer incredibly good glass for the same amount of financial investment.
Match the scope to the rifle, however - and bigger is not always better. Scope companies now are offering incredibly high magnification powers, well into the teens... do not get lulled into this - a 3-9x or even a 2-7x is a great scope...
Here is the key - it is the QUALITY of the glass that makes the difference, the ability of the scope to help shrug off the elements and offer optical clarity to help you see what you want to see - and ultimately allow you to decide whether or not to shoot, based on the additonal information that the glass provided you with!
The second part of this is binoculars, of course...
First of all - again, higher power is NOT better and in fact, is very detrimental in many instances.
Take the time to learn about exit pupil in binoculars and learn the effects it has on the ability to gather light at the most crucial moments - the low light periods early and late in the day.
I am not an expert in glass but the exit pupil is a function of lens diameter / power, in that a 8x40 would have an exit pupil of 5.0 - compared to a 10x40 with an exit pupil of 4.0 - you get the picture.
Having said that, not all glass is created equal and one bino with a exit pupil of 5.0 can easily outshine a different pair of binos that have the same exit pupil - but the light gathering aspect that is affected by exit pupil is certainly one to consider!
Play with some 8 and 10 power binoculars - heck, even try some 7's and 6's - the higher powers make it harder to find what you are looking for or at - and also magnify the hand shake that is inherent in all devices that magnify an image.
With this said, the better quality glass is going to allow you to see what you are looking at - and like the rifle scope - will allow you to make a MORE INFORMED determination as to what to do in every circumstance.
Take the time to learn more about glass and then experiment with and look through some of the higher end stuff - it makes the hunt so much more enjoyable and in many cases, increases your odds of success!