Deer hunting is a wide-ranging sport. The needs of a whitetail hunter will be completely unique from a hunter pursuing prairie mule deer. This is never more true than when choosing great optics, so it's important to consider what type of deer you'll be hunting most when investing in your first few scopes. Finding a single scope that can follow you from prairie to forest to rocky terrain is extremely difficult. Below we'll be focusing on the best optics for whitetail deer hunters.
What to Look For
Because whitetail hunting often happens in less-than-ideal lighting, one of the most important features to consider is excellent low-light performance. If your scope isn't brightening the target in the evening or shaded light, you won't get much use out of it. Great low-light performance allows you to shoot quickly and know exactly where your shot will land. Without it, you'll be left second-guessing your aim and potentially losing a beautiful buck.
We also recommend keeping things simple. For whitetail, you don't need all the bells and whistles. Avoid scopes with large, exposed tactical turrets. These add weight to your weapon and snag easily as you trek through the forest while providing very few benefits for a whitetail target. This is also true of particularly complicated reticles. Their extra features just aren't necessary for this type of deer. And an added benefit of sticking with a less complicated model is usually a lower cost. As most hunters know, if the budget isn't going toward optics, it can go toward upgrading your rifle.
Things to Consider
While our main advice is to keep your optics uncomplicated, there are other things to keep in mind when placing an order. For most types of hunting, you'll need a clear, clean reticle to ensure your shots are placed accurately and quickly, but for whitetail hunting specifically, you can look for a scope with mid-range precision. Remember that you generally aren't shooting long-range for these deer, so mid-range is sufficient. From here you should consider magnification; a 2-10 power scope should be plenty to take down a whitetail.
Next look at the materials and build of the reticle itself. Ideally, try to find a bombproof build that can hold up to rough terrain. While we are focusing on whitetail hunting in this piece, you may use this scope for other hunts in the future, so optics that won't be destroyed whether you're trudging through the forest, scaling a mountain, or forging a stream are a must. Along with durability, take weather into consideration. Not every hunt is filled with blue skies. You could experience rain, hail, or fog. A waterproof and fog-proof scope gives you visibility even when conditions are not ideal.
Vortex Diamondback 4-12x40mm
The Vortex Diamondback 4-12x40 is an excellent, affordable long-range rifle scope for those looking for the most bang for the budget buck. Wide range magnification provides a crisp, clear image, even close range with nice colors. Using a dead-hold BDC reticule that automatically calculates wind drift and range estimation for you, you'll love how easy to use this scope is.
You'll enjoy an eye box that is relatively large at roughly 3.4 inches for excellent eye relief and is exceptionally durable without getting too heated or foggy even after consistent use. At 1.4 pounds, it's a perfect weight that fits just right as a scope, and the elevation and windage knobs are quick to adjust with a finger whether you have big hands or hand mobility issues.
Vortex continues to make reliable, affordable, heavy-duty scopes that are infinitely crisp and clear. If you're on a tight budget, there's no need to worry about the price being a sacrifice for quality with the Vortex Diamondback, and we highly recommend it!
Let's get this out of the way right out of the gate: Bushnell has once again outdone itself with a phenomenal riflescope with the 3-9x40. Lightweight, waterproof, sealed, and one-piece aircraft-grade aluminum body, this scope will withstand the elements, staying on the hunt as long as possible and surviving any bumps.
Additionally, clarity and glass quality ensure a clear picture, even in low-light conditions. Bushnell's 3-9x40 guarantees excellent eye relief with 3.3 inches, making all the difference for quick, easy shots. A simple yet accurate and effective circle-x reticle similar to a 4-plex has thick cross lines that switch to thinner toward the center. The Bushnell Banner is on the second focal plane, meaning the reticle never sizes if the magnification changes.
If you want your scope built to last, then the Bushnell scope shows it. No need to worry about the weather either, as your image stays clear thanks to a Rainguard HD coating that repels water on the lens, keeping your view unobstructed so you'll always be ready to take the shot.
Additionally, the reticle can be used for any caliber that matches your typical hunting cartridges to 500 yards and pairs with the trusty Bushnell App. You can always determine your exact distances on the reticle with the app, making it easy to enjoy confidence in every shot you take.
Hands down, the Bushnell 3-9x40 is up there as one of the best affordable scopes on the market today. With its performance excellence and reliability as hardy as optics triple its price, you'll want to have this on your next whitetail hunt.
Those are our recommendations to get you started on researching the optics that will best suit you. As with everything in hunting, there is a world of opinions out there, and no two hunters will have the exact same preferences. It's a great idea to test out scopes before making a purchase; ask around. In this tight-knit hunting community, you're sure to find someone willing to let you check out their optics for yourself. When you order your scope from Freedom Outdoors, you'll enjoy a 30-day money-back guarantee on non-firearm purchases, unbeatable prices, and expert customer support. Consider your options, invest in a great scope, and enjoy the hunt.