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Every hunter knows, trophy bucks are the first to leave fields in the morning—and the last to show up at sunset. Now, with a new class of 2019 rangefinders like the Bushnell Prime series, you can see deer in those critical minutes, and get a pin-point distance, before taking that critical shot. But a low-light rangefinder helps in the deer woods beyond the final seconds of daylight. Here’s why they’re worth it, from the scout to blood trail.

bushnell box dashboard rangefinders
With a 6x low-light rangefinder, you’ll see your target buck make his late arrival. Michael R. Shea

1. Scouting Mr. Big

Trophy-caliber bucks are always the first to leave ag fields or food plots in the morning—and the last to show up at night. With a 6x low-light rangefinder, you’ll see Mr. Big make his late arrival. As the sun sets you can still range him, his distance from the field edge, potential stand locations and hedgerows, so you can plan the perfect place to sit come opening day. By ranging a buck and his surroundings before sunrise or past sunset, you can put together a rock solid early-season hunt plan.

2. The Early Morning Sit

On the early morning archery sit, you can do more with a low-light rangefinder than just wait for the sun to rise. Range your lanes early, so if a good buck shows up in the first minutes of shooting light, you’re ready and can make a confident shot. By having all your shooting lanes and likely deer paths ranged early, it won’t be a panicked scramble to dial your shot distances, and make the shot.

hand holding a bushnell rangefinder
Range your shooting lanes early to avoid getting caught without an estimate. Michael R. Shea

3. Detect Problems Early

Every bowhunter has a story about a random wisp of tree branch that deflected an arrow, and led to a buck that got away. With a magnified low-light rangefinder, you can see dark spots in the deer woods that otherwise hide those unavoidable obstacles. Find those problem areas with a low-light rangefinder, and plan around them, so every arrow flies true, and hits vitals.

bushnell range finder scope
The right rangefinder can help you know how far your deer ran after the shot, or how far out you are from the last blood on a difficult track. Michael R. Shea

4. Range on the Track

In a perfect world, every archery deer is double-lunged and tips over within eyesight. In the real world, it’s more complicated than that. By ranging from your bloody arrow back to your tree stand, you’ll have better intel at the start of the track. Then, if you get turned around in the process, you can range back to arrow, tree, or a terrain feature to help orient where you are, and where the deer went. Know how far your deer ran after the shot, or how far out you are from the last blood on a difficult track. On evening hunts, this work often happens after sundown, so you need a tool with incredibly low-light ability.