February 06, 2020
It didn’t take me long to see the benefits of glassing for whitetails with Leupold’s BX-2 Alpine binoculars. I was gearing up to hunt a well-browsed piece of public land atop a ridgeline, one with deer trails heading straight over the edge in ways that would make bighorn sheep stop and give a nod of respect. With a privately held feeding area down below and the wind in my favor, it seemed like only a matter of time until the deer began making their way back uphill to bed for the day. There wasn’t much ground cover to speak of, so it seemed like I would see them coming long before they got to me, too.
In true Gordon MacQuarrie fashion — look him up; best outdoor writer ever — I left long before daylight, alone but not lonely. You see, I had plenty of weight on my back to keep me company as I hiked toward my waypoint, what with my climber, backpack and more rigged together into a Klondike gold rush sort of load. I had already punched my buck tag for the year, so that was a relief, but I still carried the burden of filling my doe tag along with all of my gear. I was going in heavy, all right, but I hoped to come out even heavier.
It was during the hike in that my BX-2s began to shine. With so much “stuff” on my back, it was downright pleasant to not have beefy, bulky binoculars to carry around on top of it all. Alpines feature a lightweight magnesium body for durability without the heft; my binos, being 8x42s, tip the scales at a mere 24.3 ounces. Not only that, but they also feature EXO-Armor, Leupold’s rugged optics housing. I had the BX-2s in my pack, and had it not been for that special coating, I’m sure the other contents in said pack would have dinged and dented the binos mercilessly on the way to my tree.
I could leave you in suspense for a few more paragraphs about the fate of my doe tag, but I’ll just cut to the chase and say it remains unfilled as of this writing. I made it to my tree and climbed up in the predawn darkness, but I climbed down about five hours later without having ever spied a deer. What I did see, though, was unforgettable, and my Alpines helped me do it.
The ridge I was hunting on is covered in a mix of hardwoods, with maples making up the bulk of the forest. Most of the other trees had already dropped their leaves for the year, but the maples’ golden foliage was still hanging around. At one point, it sounded like it was beginning to rain a few hundred yards away. No big deal for the Leupolds, as they are waterproof/fogproof, but I had planned to be out of the woods before the forecasted rain arrived that evening and, subsequently, had left my raingear in the car. I turned my eyes in the direction of the noise and discovered that maple leaves, not raindrops, were falling on the forest floor. The wind was blowing in such a way that only a small section of the woods was affected, leaving the tree I had climbed and its immediate vicinity perfectly still.
Since no deer were around — c’est la vie — I decided to train my Alpines on the falling leaves and see how the optics performed on those beautiful autumn colors. BX-2 Alpines feature the same Twilight Max Light Management System as Leupold’s VX-3i and VX-3i LRP scopes, allowing bowhunters to glass longer at dawn and dusk. The system reportedly allows for up to 20 more minutes of glassing light and eliminates 85 percent of glare-producing stray light, but it also provides exceptional light transmission even in low-light scenarios. With an overcast sky and many maple leaves still hanging in the canopy, my scenario certainly qualified as “low-light.”
The leaves were falling along the edge of the ridgeline, so the empty air beyond the forest served as a backdrop for the whole scene. As I’m sure Gordon would have done, I decided to simply sit back, relax and enjoy myself. No pressure over the empty woods. No aggravation over the unfilled tag. Just serenely glassing as bright yellow leaf after bright yellow leaf made its way gently to earth. “I used every day for what it was best suited,” MacQuarrie once wrote. “Can anyone do better?” I certainly couldn’t.
Soon, I was glassing any and every maple around me, marveling at the different shades of yellow present on the dying autumn foliage. Some were almost white from the annual fading; others were still so vibrant I felt compelled to set the Alpines aside for a moment and take photos of the scenery. The camera lens never did those magnificent trees justice, but the Alpines’ lenses brought them all into focus. They also helped me refocus on what I could get out of a hunt if only I’d allow myself.
I’m not saying I wouldn’t have loved to see a fat doe or even a big buck (or black bear!) coming through the woods with my Alpines during that hunt, but have you ever taken the time to simply watch a leaf fall on a slow October day? BX-2 Alpines can help you do all of the above and more, and without sticker shock. Despite their deceptively low price tag, these budget binoculars still feature Leupold’s high-quality color transmission, can be used with a tripod, have precise focus adjustments and are guaranteed for life. They’re also available in 10x42, 10x52 and 12x52 versions. Can anyone do better? MSRP: $229.99 | leupold.com