By Dave Hurteau
This may bring some pain to those of you who have already spent $5K or even $10K in years past to get your sub-MOA, long-range deer rifle with befitting scope and comparable binocular. But the gun and glass I carried last week while hunting mule deer in Oregon cost, all together, about a grand-which in this rotten economy should bring great delight and jubilation to anyone just getting into deer hunting or, say, to the Easterner or Midwesterner planning his first deer hunting trip out west where hyperaccuracy and quality optics come in handy.
I carried a Weatherby Vanguard Series 2 Synthetic in .257 Weatherby Mag (about $490 real-world price) topped with a 4.5-14x44mm Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Scope (about $280 street price) and a Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10x42 binocular (about $250 street price). That comes to $1,020. I've used guns and glass costing much more and I don't believe any of them would have served me substantially better as a practical matter. (By the way, NRA writer Aaron Carter-a far more accomplished rifleman than I-used the same rig to take his buck at 359 yards.)
The Vanguard shot well under a minute of angle at 100 yards, as it is guaranteed to do. What more do you want? As for the Legend Ultra HD optics, I've said it before and I'll say it again: I can't believe how good this stuff is for the price. No, it does not paint the world in a magic light that gives even your thoughts more clarity, like some of the real high-end stuff can.
But it performed admirably, is simply hard to beat for the price, and it carries the best warranty in the business. (Yes, Bushnell sponsored this hunt, but I've been raving about the Legend Ultra HD stuff since long before I got this invite.) Anyway, the point of all this is to declare, in case you hadn't noticed, that we are in the golden age of good, affordable guns and glass; the fact that you can buy such a capable long-range setup (rifle, scope, and binocs) these days for about a $1,000 is a remarkable-not to mention very, very good news for average deer hunters everywhere.