A Whitetail Hunter Turned Bird-Watcher

A fellow hunter and friend of mine once sent me into shock with a single statement. We were having a conversation on hunting and habitat management when the die-hard and very seasoned whitetail hunter retorted, “Yeah, I’ve placed bird feeders near a couple of my deer stands”. 

“Come again?”, I replied.

He went on to explain how he loved to fill in the voids between deer sightings by watching and taking pictures of the various avian friends that visited the feeder 20-yards from his hunting blind. My initial thought was, “that’s not a very deer hunting thing to do.” Later that day, I revisited the concept and decided it was brilliant on several fronts. Then I pondered the seemingly countless number of sittings I have during hunting season, many of them on the family farm. Finally, I thought about my beloved hobby and hunting tool, digiscoping. Things haven’t been the same since, and I mean in a good way.

Let me explain.

Practice

I look for any opportunity to digiscope. While I prefer to do it as part of my hunting regimen, it’s turned out to be quite an enjoyable hobby in and of itself. The best part is that digiscoping, as it relates to my hunting exploits is valuable – so much that any chance I get to practice is time well spent. It’s not always easy to carve out time to go to the yard for digiscoping practice. Heck, it’s not always practical to do while out doing hunting chores at the ranch or other hunting grounds. Time is valuable and creating extra photo opportunities while already hunting is one-stop-shopping. 

Moreover, it’s a chance to improve digiscoping cadence and efficiency through repetition. For example, it’s a good time to improve the art of swiftly and efficiently setting up a tripod and connecting your phone and optics via the Phone Skope adapter kit. Believe me, a smooth setup makes a huge difference during the hunt. Conversely, clumsy and loud assembly is undesirable during hunting sits.  

 

Enjoying the Moment

This one goes without saying. I’ve yet to meet a hunter that doesn’t cherish his or her time in the field. The idea of bird-watching and being ready to capture game animals is a no-brainer. What about those slow hunts with little or no sightings of deer, elk, and other big game animals? Magnifying and capturing any number of bird species is one heck of a remedy, helping to remind you of all the reasons you’re out there in the first place.

Early Arrival Incentive

Despite the best of intentions, I’ve been known to be running late on hunts. Hurried trips to the stand during the morning and afternoon hours are a reality sometimes. I’ve found the prospect of digiscoping birds to provide extra motivation to get to the stand early for evening hunts – and I’ve captured some of my best shots well before any deer action began. This is a great way to have your digiscoping gear ready and waiting for late afternoon deer sightings. The same benefit exists when arriving promptly early in the morning before sun up. 

Creativity and Education

Hunters are typically creative people, at least in my experience. Digiscoping is not only a scouting tool for hunters. On the contrary, it’s a hobby that enhances the outdoor experience. It’s also a creative outlet. Magnified images of birds are cool, plain, and simple. Images of birds and other wildlife are relevant to the outdoors and I use them to supplement social media content. It’s also fun to learn to identify different species and behaviors. 

Digiscoping Basics for Birds

Smartphone cameras are pretty awesome these days. However, they’re not equipped to capture faraway images. Luckily, a custom Phone Skope adapter kit helps to bring things in closer.

Digiscoping for birds doesn’t require distant photos. Either set up a feeder 15 to 30-yards from your hunting stand. If you don’t wish to use a feeder, pick a couple of adjacent trees or sections of brush to focus on. Either way, connect your smartphone with your optics via the Phone Skope Adapter, attach them to a tripod, and set it up facing these focal points. Since you’re focusing on closer subjects, you can also opt to digiscope freehand.

Equipment:

  • Spotting Skope or Binoculars. Note that high-powered optics aren’t necessary to capture nearby birds. To get images of both birds and the game you’re hunting, binoculars in the range of 8×32 – 10×42 range. 
  • Phone Skope Adapter Kit. Phone Skope offers both a custom and universal solution.
  • Tripod. A reliable tripod will telescope, allowing for uneven ground. There are a variety of options on the market at many price points.
  • Binocular Tripod Mount. This will affix your binoculars to the tripod for steadiness. 
  • Phone Charging Bank. A good portable phone charger will help you avoid having your smartphone going dead.

Spice up your hunt and outdoor experience in general by capturing, recording, and sharing enlarged images of the birds that are likely nearby. If you’re an outdoorsman, it will keep you sharp on the hunt. It’s also a much better use of your time than gawking at social media or playing video games. Just a thought.

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