It’s amazing how your perception of a product can truly change with use – especially when it’s a product that you’ve been asked to evaluate that you really can’t see the point of…
I was given a Meopta TGA 75 draw scope through work, to test out in the field. I could see the relevance out on the Scottish hills, where the distance is vast and a good spotting scope is essential, but woodland stalking…where 99% of my shots taken are at an average of 75m…not likely.
What could I use a 30x or even a 20-70 X magnification spotting scope for?… It just all sounded a bit too much and yet another bit of kit to lug around… How wrong was I.
From the start, when I got it out of the box I have to admit to being drawn to the look and feel of it. Reminding me of the Scottish Highlands, old school stalking with the Gilley, tweed stalking suits and deer stalker caps. I could see that old guy laying in the heather, hunched up using a stick to steady his old and trusty telescope, spying out the opposite hillside looking for that elusive Monarch of the Glen.
Daft really what images come to mind, but taking the scope out of the box and screwing in the eye piece, then extending the scope out really got the old juices flowing. Even taking the thick rubber lens covers off, which are attached to the main body by the carrying straps was satisfying.
But hey, it looks good. It looks and feels the part, all heavily armoured up with the thick green rubber protective casing, it’s practical, more than fit for purpose, indestructible… but of no dreaming good to me – I’m a woodland stalker.
75% of the 3,000 acre estate I manage is woodland.. I don’t need distance capability [although at my age my eyes do need the magnification]. I have a great pair of Meopta B1 HD’s in 10×42, crisp, compact good in low light – perfect. I just don’t need another optic to lug around, especially a spotting scope.
So, getting my kit ready for for the next morning’s outing, the TGA goes reluctantly into my kit bag… obviously at the bottom because I know I’ll probably need everything else first.
Next morning, I’m up bright and early out looking for Roe does with Poppy, my lab. Maybe even fancying my chances at a hind or a stag, if I got a chance and perhaps more realistically, if I could drop them in a convenient place and not bust a gut and spend the rest of the morning extracting them.
The morning went well, I dropped a couple of doe’s with no drama’s and both were in the larder by about 10.30am – all done and dusted. Back home wiping down the rifle and stowing the kit from the kit bag, I remembered the draw scope, “Yup” I thought and put it away.
Same thing happened the next time I went out, early in November when there was still plenty of forage in the woodland and that’s where all the Deer were staying, no moving out to the outside edges, just up close and personal and very intense. The most fantastic stalking.
The draw scope stayed in that bag until late January.
Then one frosty morning, as the sun was just breaking through the freezing cold dawn, I was sat in the Land Rover watching a group of deer in the distance. They were gathering between a long strip of game cover, just showing between the winter wheat and the forest edge and I was struggling. The problem being they were about a thousand meters away and I had no idea what make or model they were…
Ha Ha, I thought and reached behind the seat into the kit bag and pulled out the draw scope.
I pulled off the protective end caps, extended the scope, set the power down to twenty and focused on the group. Even at twenty power I could see they were Roe and what sex they were. Winding the magnification right up to 70, I could not only see what sex they were but what age group and could accurately assess their condition. It was a revelation.
Before, if I’d seen this group, I’d have spent over half an hour stalking into them, another ten minutes or so assessing if any were in the cull plan and shootable and then either finally carrying out the actual stalk or deciding not to disturb them and heading back to the vehicle to begin the whole process again.
Anyway on this occasion I successfully took a couple of youngsters and later on that morning started thinking about the benefits of the draw scope and how I could use it more, saving time by just changing my tactics a bit.
So I did. As the deer stayed out in the pasture fields and wheat longer into the morning, I used the draw scope from a distance. Going nowhere near them, no disturbance. If one of them was a suitable animal for the cull plan, I used the reconnaissance to stalk into them and ambush them.
My cull numbers went up. I wasn’t wasting as much precious time – when you’ve got a cull plan to keep, a mornings stalking with no result simply means another morning out. Don’t get me wrong, here is no finer place to be, but as I am sure many of you can appreciate; when you juggle work, family and stalking which let’s face it, happens at quite unsociable times of the day, time is precious and having great kit helps counter that balance. And be of no doubt the TRG75 is a really great bit of kit and today I wouldn’t go stalking without it. So much so that when I was recently asked to lend it to a reviewer I was loathe to let it go and then unashamedly pestered him for its speedy return. He was most obliging (thank you Jonathan) for I suspect he may have been reluctant to give it back also.
It doesn’t replace the use of your bino’s or the need for them, but it does save your legs and your time… and possibly a bit of your social life.
For more details on the TGA 75 see here.