Optics for Deep Woods Coyotes

A world much different from the massive expanse of open country out West, the eastern dark timber calls for special tools.

Optics for Deep Woods Coyotes

Low Powered Scopes for Coyote Hunting

Millet 1-4x24 Scope

Leupold VX2 ScopeMy favorite coyote optic is a 1-4X or 1.5-4.5X scope. Part of the reason for this preference is that such scopes are also my favored deer and bear hunting optics. Historically promoted as scopes for “dangerous-game rifles,” the same qualities that make them suitable for shooting charging Cape Buffalo also make them ideal for close-in charging coyote. A large field of vision, particularly when set at the lowest — coupled with the high light-gathering quality of that same low power — makes these scopes perfect for use in the deep woods.

Self-Illuminating Reticle Scopes

ACOG ScopeAnother excellent line is the AccuPoint scopes in 1.25-4X from Trijicon. The “self-illuminating” reticles in these innovative scopes set them apart. In daylight (even deep-wood’s twilight), fiber optics “gather” light and “illuminate” either the center of a German #4 reticle (three heavy posts and cross hair) or a “Bindon Aiming Concept” post with a glowing triangle at the top center of the scope’s field of view. Both allow easy “both eyes open” aiming and are very fast.

Furthermore, for night hunting, both aiming points contain tritium that glows off-white, even in pitch dark — a handy feature if moonlight illuminates the quarry, but you don’t have enough light to see a dark cross hair superimposed on a dark coyote. Both reticles are available with either red or amber centers. Trijicon’s sales representatives tell me that amber outsells red by a fair margin.

For a long time, Trijicon has made an optical device largely for the military, which I have always felt would be excellent for predator hunting in dark woods. Now, the Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight (ACOG) is available to the general public. Again, fiber optic “gatherers” are the key feature here and cause the reticle to be extremely visible, permitting not only quick shots, but “both eyes” aiming. The sighting point also contains Tritium and glows white, even in pitch dark. The ACOG reticle is a small, red inverted chevron in the center of the field of view, together with some additional “ranging” marks that constitute a Bullet Drop Compensating reticle calibrated for the .223 (5.56), out to 800 yards! It is available in 4X. Unlike normal “lighted” reticles, no batteries are required for the Trijicon devices and, therefore, they cannot fail. However, lighted reticles — unlike “red dot” sights — do require proper head placement behind the scope for a proper image.

Red Dots for Coyotes

Aimpoint Micro H1 Red DotAnother sight suitable for eastern predator hunting is the ubiquitous “red dot” sight. Long a mainstay for handguns, the first one I ever saw — around 1970 — was on a shotgun at a trap range. Although they have become popular on slug guns and muzzle loaders, most riflemen ignore them. Now, Aimpoint is offering a model — the 9000L — that is long enough to fit in both the front and rear rings of the average rifle. These devices usually have no magnification, but provide a quick and precise aiming point.

Also, unlike regular scopes, the position of the shooter’s head behind the sight is not critical. If you can see the red dot, you’re on, thus permitting very quick aiming and shooting.

Aimpoint offers a red dot sight that is so light, small and compact that it makes it almost a hybrid with the holographic types. The Micro H-1 that I tried weighed 3.0 ounces, and I could attach it to any Weaver or Picatinny base with the supplied ring. I found that when attached to the front ring of my full-stocked Husqvarna, it was as quick to use as any other sight I tried.

The Iron Sight — Only Better

Merrit Adjustable DiscOf course, there is nothing wrong with using old-fashion open sights, if you can find a rifle that still has them. As hunters have known for several generations, the normal buck-horn rear sight or shallow notch can be hard to see in the dim light of dawn or dusk. This is when a receiver sight, or “peep” sight, is particularly useful. 

XS Ghost RingDeer hunters in our area have often removed the aperture disc from such sights and simply used the fixture itself as a “ghost sight,” relying on the human eye’s natural ability to center the target automatically. As long as the front sight, preferably a generously-sized brass or white bead, is visible against the quarry, this works just fine. Today, adjustable iris aperture discs are available from a few suppliers. I have used a Merit adjustable disc for years and find it to be a definite help for my aging eyes. Even for younger eyes, the ability to adjust the sight for either bright sunlight or dim evening shadows can be a very big help. The ghost ring set up from XS Sights is available for a wide variety of rifles, shotguns and handguns.


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