From your treestand, you spot a monster whitetail just 30 yards in front of you. Pull back your bowstring, take aim, and release. You hear the slap of the arrow hit, but the buck saunters off. Have could you have possibly missed? The most likely problem – your target was not 30 yards away.
You’ve already got a spotting scope and a pair of binoculars, but there’s one more piece of glass that you’ll probably want to add to your gear list: a rangefinder. You might be thinking “Great! Another expensive, new gadget that I’ll need to add to my pack and be sure to not break.” Fortunately, many rangefinders are quite affordable and can make your hunts much more successful. These are some of the reasons you need to use a rangefinder when hunting.
You Need to Hit Your Target
What better reason could there be? No one likes to miss their shots. A rangefinder gives you pinpoint accuracy as it relates to the distance to your target. If you know the distance you can make adjustments to your sights to account for for it. However, your calculations would only be valid if your shot is a straight line to the target. Fortunately, many of the best rangefinders now come with advanced angle compensators that can correct for this and put you back on target.
You Don’t Enjoy Following a Blood Trail
This one is a companion to the first reason – you want to hit your target and you want it to be a killshot. While your best guess at range might put your arrow or bullet on target, a rangefinder will keep your shots precise enough that they’ll consistently be centered over your target’s vitals. That translates into a quicker takedown and less time spent following the injured animal’s blood trail through the woods. A more humane kill and less work for you.
You Don’t Want Anything Blocking Your Target
How can a rangefinder do that? Well, it can’t physically remove that branch that might throw your shot off kilter, but it can tell you that it’s there. Many rangefinders can now detect objects within the flight path of your shot. If there’s something in the way, you can change positions to get a clear path.
Your Guess Isn’t as Good as You Think
Every experienced hunter thinks that they’ve got a good eye for distance, and many of them do. However, there are a number of situations that can throw you off your game: hunting an open field where there are few landmarks to use as a reference, sitting in a treestand where the steep angle can cause you to misjudge the distance, or shooting in low light. A rangefinder will take the guesswork out of these less than ideal conditions. Fortunately, the longer you use the rangefinder to confirm your guesses, the better they will become.
You Like to Plan Your Hunts
In hunting, preparation is key. Nowhere is this more obvious than when using your rangefinder. Take some time to scout the location of your treestand, blind, or hunting grounds. Look around for where game might enter and exit and then get a range on each of them. When the moment comes to take an accurate shot, you’ll already be very familiar with the distance to your target. Some hunters will spray paint dots onto the trees, two for twenty yard, three for thirty, and so on. That way that don’t need to keep all those distances in their head.
You Want to Understand Your Environment Better
While a rangefinder is great for making shots, it’s also fun to explore your environment with. You might wonder how wide is that draw? How far away is that stream? A rangefinder will help to increase your awareness of the terrain and how you can better navigate it to improve your hunts.
Just because a rangefinder is a useful hunting tool doesn’t mean that you need to go out and buy the most expensive, feature-loaded model. If you don’t hunt from a treestand, you can probably forgo the angle compensator. If you hunt open fields, it’s less important that you buy a rangefinder that can pick out secondary objects between you and the target. Carefully consider your hunting conditions and only purchase a model that fits your particular needs.