GEAR REVIEW Rangefinders Invest in a quality rangefinder so when the opportunity presents itself you can confidently make an accurate shot. By Eric Martin Rangefinders play one of the most important roles in consistently placing shots on target, and when it comes to hunting, bullet placement is the key factor in ensuring swift, ethical kills. 30 Y OU SPEND YEARS BUILDING APPLICA- TION points, months prepping, plan- ning and getting in shape, hours at the range making sure your rifle and scope are dialed and ready. The season opens, and when an opportunity final- ly presents itself, the first piece of gear you’ll depend on, your rangefinder, is one that is often overlooked in all the hype over the latest and greatest pieces of hunting equipment. This exact scenario played out for me last fall. Having drawn an elk tag that I had literally spent one third of my life applying for, I sat atop a small, wind- swept ridge as the sun crept over the horizon, staring across the canyon at the largest bull I had ever had in my crosshairs. The first things to go through my head WESTERN HUNTING JOURNAL weren’t if my camo pattern matched my surround- ings, or if my boots had enough insulation. The only thing I cared about was knowing how far away he was. It wasn’t all that long ago such situations required a good amount of experience in the field, and an even greater amount of sheer luck. On those early hunt- ing trips with my father, animals always seemed to appear in distance factors of fifty yards. “He’s about 250” or “that ridge has to be 400”, my dad would pro- claim. Sometimes our highly unscientific calculations resulted in a filled tag. Often, it ended with a fleeting glimpse of the backside of an unscathed animal, and an education in bullet trajectory. Thankfully, times have changed, and technology, which can deliver con- fidence and accuracy, can be carried in a shirt pocket every time you hit the field.