by T. Edward Nickens


The hardest hunting lesson I have ever learned resulted in my missing the biggest deer of my life. My guide and I found a monstrous mule deer bedded down within bow range of a cliff top. After a 90-minute barefoot stalk I had the bowstring nearly anchored for a 15-foot shot—and then the really big deer snorted 40 yards away. Had I spent more time behind the binoculars and less time mentally clearing wall space in my office, I’d have seen both deer. Using this grid system for glassing would have done the trick.

Step 1:
Divide the field of view into an imaginary grid pattern. Begin reading it like a line of type: Move your eyes slowly from left to right along the uppermost grid cube until the horizontal line intersects with a vertical line. Move down slightly, then glass from right to left. Repeat this pattern till you complete a grid. Mounting -binoculars on a tripod can be a huge help.

Step 2:
Between grids, give a quick look to open areas where movement may be obvious. As the sun comes up, pay attention to west-facing slopes that stay in shade. Muleys will feed later in the morning if they can stay out of the sun.

Illustration by Robert Prince