Many are the times we as hunters have gotten lucky when it comes to guessing range. Some are seemingly extraordinarily good guessers while others have a trusted system. These systems sometimes involve the scope reticle or comparing the size of the deer with nearby landmarks. Many and varying are these systems, but none so sure as what modern technology provides.

Laser rangefinders, like so many other household items we use these days, were originally invented for military applications. My research revealed the first laser rangefinder came to be in 1964 and was created to be used in tanks. During the Vietnam War, handheld rangefinders were being experimented with for use in scout and sniper applications. Those who were there will be the first to tell you that these were questionable in their reliability.

Today, laser rangefinding equipment is super reliable and as ubiquitous as Remington Core-Lokt ammunition. There are products available nearly everywhere for every need and budget. The pocket-size handhelds are more than is needed for most big game hunters, some reaching clear out to 800 yards reliably. The features are endless, calculating for bow, rifle, shotgun slug, blackpowder or handgun. They can be programmed with your ballistics charts, account for weather, shot angle and altitude. Some binoculars and rifle scopes come with laser ranging technology, all designed to help John and Jane Q. Hunter make better shots. Knowing all this information is revolutionary indeed.

I, for one, feel confident to 300 yards in my “guessing” abilities. That being said, there are times I’ve missed purely because I missed my guess. I’m sure many of you experienced hunters and shooters can relate. The real joy of these laser rangefinders is the removal of any need to guess. You can know the distance for a fact.

Caution and experience will teach you what you can and cannot do. These rangefinders are not infallible. Any target that doesn’t reflect light will be a poor conduit for your ranging efforts. Oftentimes a rock or tree near your trophy animal is a much more effective target for the laser to measure the distance. Any brush or branches that might get in your line of sight can result in a false measurement so make sure you have a clear shot for the laser and, of course, the bullet. Keep fresh batteries handy. I’ve seen bad reads from failing batteries as well.

While it’s yet another piece of gear to acquire and carry, a laser rangefinder can literally be the difference between bringing home your next trophy or having another winter of “tag soup.” The days of “Kentucky Windage” and “Tennessee Elevation” are numbered. Pony up the cash. You won’t be sorry.

What’s your distance measuring method? Email us at We would love to hear from any and all!

Dale Valade is a local country gent with a deep love for handloading, hunting and shooting.


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