While many hunters use their favorite bird gun to hunt turkeys, a simple bead sight is no match for beady-eyed birds skulking through the timber. Today many options are available that perform so much better than standard sights you’ll wonder why you took so long to make the move to upgrade.
The simplest and most economical upgrade is to add a fiber optic bead to your favorite turkey gun. Fiber optic sights gather available light and concentrate it at the ends of the fibers, making it much easier to see in limited lighting situations.
Although fiber optic sights are an improvement compared to the standard metal bead, with the tight constrictions of modern turkey chokes, squeezing off a round is still a coin toss when using this error prone sighting system. Without a companion sight in the rear to ensure exact alignment, there’s just too much room for error.
Some sight manufacturers are making a rifle sight system that can be mounted on a standard ribbed shotgun barrel and you’ll also find fiber optic sight systems that combine two dots in the rear with one on the muzzle end that line up in a row for a much improved sight window. If open sights are a matter of preference for you, these sights provide good accuracy under the most demanding conditions. Most of these sights are adjustable for elevation and windage. If you use this same shotgun for wingshooting, choose a model that is easily removable and you’ll have hassle free hunting seasons.
Scopes are a double-step up the sight improvement ladder. Scopes have two main advantages: precise aiming and ease of adjustment. When patterning a turkey gun, many hunters find that their shotgun does not hit point of aim. With a scope, adjusting the sight pattern to point of aim is very simple.
When selecting a scope for turkey hunting, you want to avoid too much magnification. Sometimes a turkey will come in slowly from directly in front of you, but more often than not it will show up suddenly from the side, or worse yet, come in from behind you. Scopes with high magnification will only make it more difficult to find your target quickly in heavy cover and close quarters. Since most turkeys are taken around 20 yards or less you really don’t need the increased magnification. What you’re looking for is a large sight picture and exact point of aim.
Red dot scopes
Red dot scopes/sights are another great option for upgrading your shotgun’s turkey killing potential. Most are non-magnifying, provide unlimited eye relief and an illuminated, non-projecting aiming point. As the sun moves higher in the sky, brighter conditions require more illumination, and this is easily adjusted. Most models have a large graduated dial, and some red dot scopes have the option of changing the type of reticle so you have a choice of picking the one that works best for you.
Another innovation in red dot optics is the tubeless or open design. This type of sight has unlimited eye relief, a light-sensitive rheostat for brightness control and a 4-MOA dot for quick, easy target acquisition. With its diminutive size and scant two ounces of weight, you’ll hardly notice it until it comes time to put the red dot on a red head.
No matter which red dot scope you select, you’ll find the glowing dot makes it much easier to line up your turkey in minimal light, and most turkey hunters will admit that’s a challenge at best.
You might not consider binoculars a necessary item for your turkey hunt, but consider this. Binoculars are an excellent way to scan distant areas for feeding flocks of turkeys, likely approach routes and picking out longbeards from jakes. A compact pair will fit into any pocket of a shirt or turkey vest, and the weight is negligible, especially when compared to the benefit. You’ll want a wide field of view, fairly low power and both size and weight are important. Many turkey hunters find that 8x or 10x is plenty of magnification. Larger objective lenses provide more light gathering ability, but that’s an issue that each hunter will have the balance against weight and what they’re willing to carry.
Laser Rangefinders are another invaluable tool for turkey hunting. Misjudging distance on a strutting tom is very easy to do when your adrenalin is pumping. Accurate distance reads are important for gun hunters, but it is especially critical for bow hunters. It only takes a few seconds to run some quick distance reads and pick out a rock or bush to mentally mark ranges that you’re comfortable with.
As humans we have a lot of things going for us, but for most hunters, exceptional eyesight isn’t one of them. The one thing that humans can take advantage of is our innate ability to think and improve upon our odds of success. By selecting a sighting system that improves upon your natural abilities, you’ll move a lot closer to putting your knees under a dinner table and carving a juicy turkey dinner. Don’t forget the cranberries.
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