Glassing for Whitetails Pays Dividends

By Tracy Breen

Trevon Stoltzfus, host of Outback Outdoors
Trevon Stoltzfus, host of Outback Outdoors

U.S.A.-( Elk hunters, Mule deer hunters and Coues deer hunters understand the value of using binoculars and spotting scopes to find game. Few western hunters ever leave the truck without packing good optics. Whitetail hunters on the other hand, don’t often categorize binoculars as a necessary tool when they climb into their treestand or ground blind.

According to Trevon Stoltzfus, host of Outback Outdoors, that is a mistake. “I have spent most of my life hunting in the west so I always have binoculars with me when I hunt. In the last few years, I have started hunting whitetails more and I hunt them some in the Midwest. The first thing I do when I arrive in camp is get out my glass,” Stoltzfus said.

Many whitetail hunters consider glassing a waste of time. Stoltzfus, on the other hand, considers glassing a time saver.

“Often the first thing I do when I get to a new area is put up an observation stand and spend an entire day glassing for deer. I bring my bow with me, but I’m not really hunting. I am high in a tree on the edge of a field or in the middle of a field, glassing the field edges for deer,” Stoltzfus added.

If Stoltzfus was on foot, finding travel routes and feeding areas would be more difficult but by glassing, he can cover lots of ground in a short time. “While sitting in an observation stand, I can quickly determine how deer are using the lay of the land and figure out where I want to put a stand. I often spend an entire day glassing and in a day, I learn a lot more than if I was on foot. Over the years, many of my most productive stand locations have been found by observing the area from a distance during hunting season.”

One reason Stoltzfus loves observation stands is because the area isn’t messed up by leaving human odor behind.

“By glassing from a stand, I can figure out the deer without them knowing I am in the area. If I were to scout on foot, I would leave all kinds of human odor behind and potentially spook the bucks in the area.”

"The first thing I do when I arrive in camp is get out my glass,” Trevon Stoltzfus said.
“The first thing I do when I arrive in camp is get out my glass,” Trevon Stoltzfus said.

Over the years, Stoltzfus has figured out travel corridors that bucks use every year but sometimes things don’t go as planned and he is forced to change things up.

“Sometimes weather can greatly affect the whitetail rut and all of a sudden, bucks aren’t traveling the same routes they did in previous years. Sometimes we have a warm October and November and the normal routine gets turned upside down. When this happens, I pull out my binoculars and try to determine what the new normal is. I try to determine where the bucks are bedding and traveling. I do all of this in season, scouting from a treestand,” Stoltzfus noted.

Vortex Optics Diamondback 12x50 Binoculars
Vortex Optics Diamondback 12×50 Binoculars

Stoltzfus even brings a tripod into his treestand with him.

“The Outdoorsmans tripod is lightweight and easy to use, so when I know I am going to be glassing for long periods of time from a treestand, I bring my tripod. It keep my binoculars steady so I don’t get headaches or eye strain. When the hunting is slow, glassing for hours can help pass the time and helps me stay positive. Whitetail hunters who don’t spend much time glassing should consider doing it more often.”

Stoltzfus isn’t the only hunter that recognizes the value of glassing for whitetails. Ben Royce from Wisconsin has killed many bucks over the years by spending a lot of time behind his Vortex Binoculars.

“I spend a lot of time bowhunting in Illinois and have found that patterning bucks by glassing fields and crop rows is a great way to locate bucks and figure out their patterns. Without glassing, I am not sure I would have killed all the nice bucks I have,” Royce explained.

Sometimes hunters consider glassing a waste of time, when glassing can save you time by helping you locate game faster. Next time you go hunting or scouting, don’t leave home without your binoculars, a spotting scope, and an Outdoorsmans tripod.

About the Author: Tracy Breen is a full-time outdoor writer and marketing consultant in the outdoor industry. He works with a variety of companies including Wilderness Athlete. Learn more about him at