Ask the experts: What’s the best scope for the Highlands?

I own a Tikka T3 and a 2.5-10x mag scope for my usual forms of lowland shooting. However, I’m planning on heading to the Highlands this year for some stalking on more open ground. Do I need a new scope? If so, what would you recommend?

Chris says: Most highland stalking, other than professional culling with quotas to fill, is done within about 150 metres. Stalking implies getting as close to the animal as possible rather than just being a ‘shooter’.

When you say highlands, you are probably referring to red deer, so generally speaking, a scope of 2.5-10x magnification is ideal. It will easily allow you to pick a precise aim point on the animal, retaining satisfactory field of view to keep that aim point should the animal move, then execute the perfect shot.

I will never knock anyone seeking to improve image quality and light transmission capability on their optic, but chasing high magnification on a large, close target is unnecessary. I shot my first Highland deer with a plain old 3-9x optic, and many were shot with fixed 6x and even open sights in decades past. If you are a professional equipping yourself for longer-range culling, the requirements will differ slightly.

My first deer was shot towards the outer reaches of my comfortable range, but the lower magnification of my scope allowed me to see the animal’s reaction easily and track it for the 10 metres it moved before complete collapse. Had I needed to, the low mag would have allowed a far easier follow-up shot than messing about winding the zoom down in a panic trying to re-acquire point of aim.

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