The hunting of wild deer has been a great American pastime for countless generations. In fact, venison meat has occupied a place at the dinner table from the time of Native Americans and pygmies.
Whitetail deer are the most popular game animal in America. They can be found all over and have thriving populations both in the wilderness and national parks from coast to coast.
Although whitetail deer populations once saw a very sharp decline due to overhunting, extensive conservation efforts have since, more than made up for it and the deer population is now at an all-time high. This is the best example of a hunter-driven conservation effort which has yielded great results.
Conservation efforts funded by hunters have made it so that most states now actually have a surplus of deer and hunting is required to keep the population in check and ensure harmony in the biological ecosystem.
Most experienced hunters prefer deer hunts because they make for a challenging target. Always wary, undeniably intelligent and astonishingly fast, Whitetails deers can easily pick up the scent of a human and the smallest of mistakes will send them sprinting out of your crosshairs at breakneck speed.
Deer often grow huge antlers. The size of the antlers is a sign of a deer’s maturity and of the degree of difficulty in taking it down. But if you do manage to take it down, who wouldn’t want to decorate a living room with those antlers.
Lean whitetail Venison meat is renowned for its mild, tasty flavor and its host of health benefits. Deer meat has graced our plates since time infinity, and it will continue to do so in the near future.
What to Look for in a Scope for Deer Hunting
Because deer a big game animal, deer hunting requires cartridges that pack some amount of punch. You need to get a scope based on the stopping power of your bullet and the amount of recoil you can expect. These are the most common cartridges used:
- .270 Winchester
- .308 Winchester
- .30-30 Winchester
- .30-06 Springfield
- 7mm Remington Magnum
You need to get the best scope for deer hunting, which will suit these caliber rounds and also suit the prey you will be hunting. Here’s a guide about what to look for in a scope.
The magnification range is probably the most critical feature in a scope. Deers tend to get spooked if you creep up too close. So your best bet is to hunker down and hit them long-range. As a result, magnification is of primary importance. Don’t settle for anything with less than 8X magnification.
If you’re shooting long distance, it’s also helpful to have a parallax adjuster which takes out the parallax at long distances.
The larger the objective lens, the more light will come in through your lens, making for better and bigger pictures. If you’re shooting long distance with very high zoom, you would want as much light as possible to come in.
However, if the objective lens gets too big, it’ll become heavy, and it would be a problem carrying that around.
You need your scope to produce bright, clear, crisp images with perfect contrast from dawn to dusk. Depending on whether you’re a morning person or a night person, or if you want to hunt all day, you’ll need a scope which produces perfect images even in low-light conditions.
Multicoated lenses are a must because they allow maximum light transmission which is an absolute necessity.
If you’re spending the big bucks on a scope, you would want it to last you a long time. The cheaper models are definitely going to give way after only a few shots, let alone a year.
Scopes made out of aluminum alloy are the best when it comes to avoiding scratches and wear and tear. You also need lenses that can hold the fort. Nitrogen purged lenses are usually waterproof, dust and fog proof and also shock resistant to a high degree.
A scope with a lifetime warranty would also be a very wise investment.
With the amount of recoil from the bullets usually used in deer hunting, if you want to keep your eyes protected from injury, you need generous eye relief of at least 3.5 inches.
Especially if you’re shooting from an unorthodox position, you definitely stand a chance of the scope hitting your eyes if you don’t have sufficient eye relief.
A buffer space of 3 to 4 inches is crucial in selecting a scope.
If you’re shooting long range with this rifle, you need your scope to compensate for the bullet drop over long distances. Having holdover positions and bullet trajectory prediction systems help a lot.
Target turrets should be lockable and resettable to zero. You need to be able to hold zero perfectly. An illuminated reticle also helps a lot in the dark.
The 4 Best Scopes for Deer Hunting
Now that you know what to look for in a scope, here are our top 4 picks for the best deer hunting optics in the market today.
1. Nikon ProStaff 3-9X 40 Black Matte Riflescope
Fully multicoated optics, spring-loaded Instant-zero reset turrets and Nikon’s Ballistic Match technology – what’s not to like? Made by a company which prides itself on making quality products, this one lives up to everything that Nikon stands for.
What Makes This A Very Nice Choice?
A maximum of 9X of magnification and a 40mm objective lens makes this a very useful medium range scope. The black matte finish makes it look very sleek and sophisticated.
What we find to be the best feature about Nikon’s optics is their light transmission (a whopping 98%). This degree of light transmission ensures that no matter how dark your conditions are, you’ll still get perfect visibility.
What we like most is the BDC reticle. The see-through ballistic circles are great for long range shooting and also allow for a standard sight picture when the crosshair is the aiming point itself.
Add to that Nikon’s Spot On Ballistic Match technology, and you eliminate all guesswork on your bullet trajectories. The quick focus eyepiece is fast and sharp and guarantees that nothing is going to get past you.
Spring-loaded zero reset turrets have positive-click, 1/4 inch adjustments, with a maximum internal adjustment of 80 MOA. The parallax adjuster removes parallax from 100 yards to infinity.
This scope also scores top marks on durability. Nitrogen purged and O-ring seals make the scope fog proof, waterproof and also, shock resistant to a large degree.
- Multi-Coated optics
- Spot On Ballistic Match Technology
- Instant Zero Reset
- Lifetime warranty
- Field of view is a little narrow
The Bottom Line
What makes this a very good scope for deer hunting is the picture quality and Nikon’s attention to detail in the reticle. Basic yet highly useful, this is another top notch scope for deer hunting in our book.
2. Leupold VX-1 3-9X 40mm RifleScope
This scope from Leupold is one of the most popular and widely used riflescopes in the market today for hunting deer. Leupold is a household name since the 1960s, and if you want to buy American made, it can’t get any more American than Leupold.
What Makes this Product a Great Choice?
What we really like about this product is the 3:1 zoom erector system. This zooming system gives you the versatility to tackle a bunch of different hunting scenarios. You can easily switch from a wider field of view to a more detailed view if you want to take shots at close quarters.One flick of the power selector is all it takes.
Bullet and windage drop can be compensated with the turret arrangement which has one-quarter MOA finger click adjustments. An instant zero reset functionally lets you come back to zero without reverse counting clicks.
What we also really like is the duplex reticle, which combines the benefits of thicker and finer reticles. Duplex reticles allow for a much clearer picture with less obstruction at the center of the crosshairs. The illuminated FireDot at the middle can be turned on and off at your will, in case you want to use it in the dark.
Multicoated, anti-reflective optics cause a minimum of glare and a maximum of light transmission. Picture quality is absolutely on point, giving you vivid contrast and brightness under all light conditions, from dawn to dusk.
The single tube aircraft grade aluminum construction ensures ruggedness like no other. O-ring seals and nitrogen housing ensure the optical chambers stay waterproof, dustproof and shock resistant.
- 3:1 zoom ratio erector system
- 1/4 MOA precision finger click adjustments
- High-quality craftsmanship
- No adjustable objective lens
The Bottom Line
Leupold scopes are known for their high-quality, and this one is totally embodies everything Leupold stands for. The mounting is fast and effortless; the accuracy is dead on and all things considered, this rifle is definitely worth buying. Put simply, it’s one of the best scopes for deer hunting available in the market today.
3. Vortex Optics Crossfire II 4-12×44 Dead-Hold BDC
The Crossfire II line of scopes has a lot of variety which has scopes which suit every taste. It’s made for professionals and is guaranteed to be a very worthy investment.
What Makes This Product A Good Choice?
A large zoom range of 4X to 12X and an equally large 44mm objective lens make for a huge clear picture. This makes the rifle ideal for medium to long range shooting.
Vortex’s trademark dead-hold BDC reticle does a great job of predicting bullet trajectories and is ideal for situations where you have to estimate holdover. The second focal plane reticle maintains the same size of the reticle across varying powers, allowing for a seamless zooming in and out experience.
Very generous eye relief of 3.9 inches keeps your eyes out of harm’s way. Rest assured your eyebrows are safe with this riflescope.
Multicoated, anti-reflective lenses provide a very vivid picture with true contrast which seems almost HD quality. The contrast and color clarity means you will have no trouble spotting your prey no matter how much forest cover is blocking your vision
The side adjustment turrets have a maximum internal adjustment of 50 MOA with a gradation of one-quarter MOA per click. They can also quickly be reset to zero which saves you the hassle of reverse counting clicks.
We also particularly admire the construction. Single piece aluminum alloy ensures the scope can deal with whatever you throw at it. O-ring seals and nitrogen purges keep the scope waterproof, fog proof and dustproof.
This scope is also outfitted with a fast-focus eyepiece and a vast field of view. The field of view extends from 8.4 feet to 24.7 feet at 100 yards.
Another feature we like about the reticle is the red dot. The red dot cuts through all the dust and fog and focuses on your prey. Rest assured that deer isn’t going anywhere once it’s in your crosshairs.
- Generous eye relief
- Large objective lens
- Dead-Hold Reticle
- Slight parallax
- Distortion at high zoom
The Bottom Line
The huge 12X zoom range and 44mm objective lens is perfect for long range deer shooting. No matter how big it is, if it’s stationary or on the move, you’ll get a clear image of it on the anti-reflective, multicoated lens. Moreover, the dead hold reticle with all it’s estimated trajectories eliminates all guesswork.
4. Athlon Optics, Argos BTR, Riflescope, 6-24 X 50 First Focal Plane (FFP)
Excellent scope for long range deer hunting, this one from Athlon has everything you want in scope and a lot more. It’s advanced yet simple at the same time, making this an ideal scope for beginners and veterans to the game alike.
What Makes This Product So Great?
First things first, this is a first Focal Plane reticle which is ideal for shooting long range. The reticle seems to shrink or grow in size as you zoom in or out of your prey. This makes for a very clear picture on the huge 50mm objective lens.
The glass-etched reticle is an illuminated Mil-dot reticle which is great for long-range accuracy. Most FFP and mil-dot reticle scopes in the market today are at least twice the price.
Moving on to the adjustment turrets, the total elevation and wind adjustments possible are 18 Mil with a graduation of 0.1 MIl and 5 MIl adjustment per rotation. The turrets are resettable and hold zero perfectly accurately.
Multicoated lenses provide a very clear and high-contrast picture, as is absolutely required when shooting deer long range. The picture quality is good and stays consistent through the entire zoom range.
The scope’s tube is made out of aircraft grade aluminum which has exceptional mechanical and structural integrity and will hold up to all manners of battering. The argon purged lenses give top class waterproofing and thermal stability.
- First Focal Plane Reticle
- Accurate turret adjustments
- Multicoated lenses
- Superior structural integrity
- Eye Relief is a bit on the shorter side
The Bottom Line
When it comes to marksmanship, what you need in a scope is accuracy, precision, and reliability that every shot is just as good as the last one. This scope from Athlon does all of that and provides it at a fraction of the cost of every other long-range deer hunting scope in the market.
Well, that ends our review of the best scopes for deer hunting. Since there’s no “one size that fits all,” we suggest you read the buyer’s guide once again and then decide.
Or just pick one of the four scopes we’ve reviewed here. Optics can make any rifle more accurate…and of course, more fun to use.
So go ahead, let’s get hunting.