The “little things” — protecting your eyes when glassing
Over the years and many hours spent glassing for big game, these “little things” become difference makers. They may come from a hunting partner or, more commonly, out of pure frustration. These “little things” have evolved over the years. They are designed to make glassing more comfortable. By utilizing these tips, you might find a few more deer — in comfort!
It’s important to relieve stress and fatigue on your eyes while glassing. The first and most important tip is to buy the best glass you can afford. Next, mount your glass on a tripod. These two things together will relieve more eye strain than anything else. Better glass and keeping them still makes your eyes work less. But I would consider those tips to be “big things” rather than “little things.” Let’s take a look at the “little things,” their effect on a glasser and, more importantly, their eyes.
The easiest approach is to work from the head down. I always wear a hat. It can be a regular baseball cap, boonie hat or floppy hat. A hat’s brim will shade your eyes from direct sunlight. I like to tip my hat to the side where the sun is coming from. Boonie hats with wider brims will block the rays and help keep you from burning. I have also used a handkerchief and draped it over my head. When it’s hot, I may even wet the handkerchief to stay cool. The idea is to block the ambient light or glare that is not coming from your binoculars. That extra light has a negative effect on your eyes. The less your eyes work, the more time you can spend looking for game.
There are a couple of tools that will help you that mount onto your binoculars. The goHUNT Bino Bandit is a product that is made from neoprene and slips on over your eyecups and makes it possible to mold to the face around your cheeks, temple and over your eyebrows. The Bino Bandit is especially good for the brightest days or sunny days with snow on the ground. Your eyes will reward you with more time spent behind your optics because they are protected.
There is also a Spotting Scope Bandit that does the same thing as the Bino Bandit. Because you’re not used to closing one eye all the time, it is important to not allow unnecessary fatigue to impact your eyes and facial muscles. By wearing an eye patch over the opposite eye, it could help your active eye and muscles relax during long periods of time looking through a spotting scope. You may look like a pirate, but you will make your eyes work less, reducing eye fatigue. I try to minimize the amount of time looking through a spotting scope by using my binoculars more. Again, it helps reduce eye fatigue.
Get comfortable when glassing
There are a few ways to effectively get comfortable. Find a flat rock or flat spot to sit down when possible. Make sure to have a pad to sit on when glassing. I have made and used several different kinds over the years, but the Therm-A-Rest Z Seat has been my go-to glassing pad as of lately. It is 16” x 13” and weighs 2 ounces. Trust me, you will appreciate it! Get comfortable! The more you move, the less you are looking for deer. The Z Seat is multi-use in the field as well. It protects you from the cold as well as doubles as a possible splint if you ever needed one or a headrest. By not sitting on the ground, and being robbed of heat you will be insulated by the Z Seat as well.
Another way to get comfortable while glassing is a small lightweight stool. Extending your tripod does make it less stable, affecting the stability of your optics; however, the stool makes it worth it. The Helinox Chair Zero is a good one to consider. Lightweight, sturdy and very comfortable. You will also find the Helinox very easy to set up and pack.
There are other ways to help you stay comfortable behind the glass. Stay hydrated! By dehydrating your body, you cause your eyes to be more sensitive to light, create blurred or double vision and, even, cause headaches. If you ever feel like you need a break and the situation allows, then take a break. Have a snack, drink water, close your eyes for 20 to 30 minutes. I carry a little bottle of Visine and wash my eyes before a quick nap or bed. Usually, my eyes are totally refreshed afterwards.
Also, if you know you are going to glass for a long period of time don’t be afraid to loosen your boot laces. This will help your circulation and prevent you from getting tight while wicking some moisture buildup in your boots and socks. Why not take care of your feet while glassing for longer periods of time?
I know some of you are saying this is crazy. But look at this way. You have invested a lot of money, wear and tear on the truck and vacation time and sacrificed time preparing for this hunt — not to mention all the time away from your family and work. So, if you practice just a few of these “little things” that is like giving yourself back time. Every second wasted not looking for game is time that you won’t get back. Do the “little things,” take care of your eyes, by minimizing eye fatigue and you will find more game... comfortably!
Some other optics-related articles you might like:
- 15x or 18x binoculars for hunting: what power is right for you?
- Tripod tips for long distance glassing: Part 1
- 8 easy ways to improve your glassing sessions