Turkey Hunting: Choosing the Right Optics

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I can distinctly remember when I started hunting the wild turkey.  In the big scheme of things, it wasn't really that long ago.  I've still got my first turkey gun, a 12 gauge Remington 870 Wingmaster, which was given to me in the late 1960s.  I had changed the 30 inch full choke barrel to a 26 inch barrel with a vent rib and a white front bead and a middle bead.  Man, I thought I was somebody with that thing, but I found out quickly that putting the beads on a big gobbler at first light was tougher than one might imagine. 

Sighting down the ventilated rib of a shotgun with a white or brass front bead can be a challenge for many hunters, especially in low light.  And when you are trying to shoot a full load of shot onto the head of a wary gobbler, having a visible sight picture is darn near critical.  Enter the world of technology and a myriad of options for turkey hunting optics all designed to help turkey hunters shoot better.

Since most turkey hunters have fallen prey to the custom optics craze, which type of sight will work best for you?  Frankly it depends on where and when you typically hunt the wild turkey and whether or not your chosen turkey slayer actually shoots to the point of aim.  Oh, you didn't know that all turkey guns don't shoot straight?  Well, welcome to the real world.

Let's deal with these issues one at a time.  The where and when you hunt is a bigger issue than you might expect.  Take this writer for instance.  I live in Southeast Georgia and hunt turkeys near my home and in the South Carolina Lowcountry.  The vast majority of my hunting is in river swamps or hardwood bottoms.  I rarely hunt in the afternoon, so count on me trying to work one off the limb at first light when sighting conditions are at their worst. 

On the other hand many hunters set up around fields and food plots where lighting conditions are somewhat better.  Open sights and beads are usually more visible to the hunter in these conditions, and finding your sight plane is usually much easier.

Many hunters use fiber optic or light pipe technology for their open sights on turkey guns when hunting in the aforementioned conditions.  My preference is a HIVIZ Four in One fitted onto my Rob Roberts/Gobbler Guns customized Winchester Super-X2.  I went with the open sight because I want to be able to aim at the gobbler's head or move with him “wingshooting style” should he start to move unexpectedly. 

These open sights come in the form of a single bead to three point rifle sights.  Most of them utilize fiber optic or light pipe technology to afford hunters a better look at their sights in low light conditions.  Of course these sights work in bright light conditions too.

Some hunters choose to use scopes or red dot type sights out of preference or because they find that their shotgun doesn't shoot straight.  The ability to zero the gun to the point of aim is critical for turkey hunting, and scopes and dot optics allow that to happen.

You will find that enclosed turkey optics are different from those used on high powered deer rifles.  In most cases they come in 1.5 to 4 power with an objective lens aperture of 32mm to 36mm.  These sighting devices are perfect for the hunter who wants to dial his gun in perfectly and be able to precisely aim at a big gobbler.  Reticles in these sights range from dots, to crosshairs to circles and more.   
So there you have it, a short look at turkey optics.  Which way you choose to go is totally up to you and your needs.  Just make sure that whatever sight option you choose, you put it through its paces in the preseason.  Knowing how your gun performs will give you an added confidence when it comes to making that shot on a big gobbler.  

 Visit Marty at www.tntoutdoorexplosion.com or www.facebook.com/tntoutdoorexplosion!
Marty Fischer
Marty Fischer is the host and executive producer of TNT Outdoor Explosion seen each week on the Pursuit Channel. He is a professional wingshooter and instructor, a book author, video host, gun club designer and avid turkey hunter. He is the author of two books, "The Gun Digest Book of Shotgunning" and "Limbhangers and 4-Letter Words - The Trials and Tribulations of a Turkey Fanatic."
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