The Vortex Solo R/T is a solid little monocular (8×36 is the only option available). It weighs 10.4 ounces, is a little over 6 inches long, and features rubber armor and a big clip which make it easy to hold and carry. The ranging reticle features features both milliradian hashmarks and silhouettes which allow you to range any object whose height in known (i.e. people or big game). The reticle has a separate focus ring (closer to the ocular) than the main focus ring, both of which are smooth but not too easy to turn. For the money (~120 US street price) the optics are excellent.

This isn’t a good choice if you’ll be hanging around glassing for game or looking at birds for a long time; binoculars will provide far less eye strain. It is a good option to take along hunting if you’ll only be glassing occasionally. Rig a sling of the right length and you can wear it around your neck and one arm, and pick it up to just eye height with one hand. Carried this way it easily slides inside a light jacket. I’ve also become fond of carrying it while just backpacking, and not just for checking out wildlife. Having 8x of magnification is very handy for investigating the route ahead, be it snow conditions, the height of creeks, or the navigability of cliff bands.

A few weeks ago I was very sad, after coming home from a long day hunting and dinner out with M, I was in a very tired mood and stuffed all my dirty clothes into the washer. My monocular was in a pocket.


It did not survive. I sent it back to Vortex, and in little over a week I got a brand new one back. To be clear, I was completely upfront that it was only my stupidity which resulted in the monoculars death.

A damn good way to cultivate very loyal customers. Thanks Vortex.

On an only vaguely related note, I acquired the back half of a beaver a few months ago, and after cutting the meat in half (and separating the tail) stored it all away in the freezer for a special occasion. A few days ago I couldn’t help but pull out one of the hindquarters, and cook it up.


I vaguely followed this recipe, which I’ve used on hare with stupendous success. On this occasion I added two links of andouille sausage, two white onions, a bunch of garlic cloves roughly chopped, one jalapeno (seeds in), one poblano (seeds out), and one red bell pepper. Simmer that, the beaver quarter, and a full bottle of dark ale (New Belgian 1554 in this case) in a heavy crock in the oven at 275F for many hours. After 5-6 the beaver will be falling off the bone, at which case you can remove the bones, season with a bit of paprika and some salt, and cook for another couple hours to completely break down any connective tissue, adding a bit more liquid if needed.

If you’re an adventurous eater this will knock yours socks into the next room. Beaver is rich and nuanced, a more interesting version of beef. This stew makes a fabulous enchilada filling, or is great just plain. If you like spicy food, do not be afraid to increase the pepper count a fair bit. If I were to make this again just for myself, I’d double it.