Doug Goins, a Mathews archery pro, has some eye-opening and sight-improving advice for hunters, and it involves the use of optics when archery hunting.

That means rangefinders and binoculars. 

Goins relies on a quality rangefinder to decipher the exact distance from his stand to immobile targets around it. Doing this also relieves him of having to range an actual animal before taking the shot.

“Right after I get in my stand and settled in, I start ranging trees around my stand,” he said. “I hunt a lot in the afternoon, so right after I get up, there’s not much going on, and I range landmarks to keep from getting bored. The benefit is when a deer walks by, I only have to estimate the distance from the deer to an object at a known distance. 

“That means I’m guessing distances of 1 or 2 yards rather than 25 or 30. The margin of error goes way down and that’s a huge confidence issue.”

For hunters whose preferences or schedules are more conducive to morning hunts, Goins suggests ranging objects when you hang the stand and make notes on paper of those distances. Reading them before getting into the stand keeps the distances fresh and helps hunters recall how the site is laid out — a benefit in low-light conditions.

After the rangefinder, Goins‘s next most-valuable piece of non-weaponry is a good set of binoculars. The pro suggests obtaining optics with a good objective lens, something in the 8x42 or 10x56 sizes.

“The naked eye can only focus on so many things at one time,” he said. “With a good set of objective-lens binoculars, you can actually see through underbrush and focus on objects that are out of your normal range of vision. It’s not a matter of seeing a whole deer — just an eye or ear or tail is enough to let you know a deer is in the area and gives you some advance warning to get prepared.”

Goins said the other benefit of binoculars is that they pick up more ambient light and allow hunters to see well into dark corners and other shadowy places from where deer often approach an opening. This is especially important as daylight approaches or fades.