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Maximizing Short-Range Deer Guns

Very little can match the excitement of short-range hunts, so your equipment needs to be on point'

Maximizing Short-Range Deer Guns

Mr. Webster gives us a couple of definitions of "hunt." Among them are "to pursue for food or in sport" and "to traverse in search of prey." Take note of the key words — "pursue" and "traverse." Somewhere in the hunter's path between the spear and scopes equipped with bubble levels and elevation turrets, many of us strayed from that definition. Long-range marksmanship is a great thing, but the true magic of hunting is the stalk. There is nothing quite like closing the distance with a wary game animal and hunting them where their well-adapted senses give them the advantage. Hunting whitetails up-close often means failing light, dark shadows and fast shooting — all areas where a red dot optic reigns supreme. Aimpoint not only invented the red dot optic, but they've continued to perfect it. The Aimpoint is a fantastic way to maximize the short-range hunting experience.

The soil where I hunt whitetails is littered with arrowheads and atlatl points that date back thousands of years. It's clear to me that hunting taps into ancestral memories that connect us with those hunters that came before us. To escalate that transcendent experience, we must get physically close to the game animal — and the closer the stalk, the more intense it gets. After flirting with some long shots on deer that bordered on the ridiculous side — and watching that grow more routine — I've reset my deer-hunting mindset. This desire to close the distance has drawn me to rely increasingly on handguns, muzzleloaders and older rifle cartridges when I hunt whitetails with firearms — especially when I do so close to home. With these short-range deer guns, I'm encouraged to stalk with extreme caution when still hunting, as well as approaching treestands carefully and quietly. Using them makes me a better hunter instead of a better shooter. And though these tools limit the range at which I can effectively take shots, their greatest real disadvantage is their iron sights. At dawn and dusk, when mature bucks are most active, my sights are often useless. The solution that allows me to hunt close but still make ethical shots is an Aimpoint red dot optic.

Aimpoint sights have been around since 1975, when a team of Swedish engineers released the groundbreaking Aimpoint Electronic sight. Many of us on this side of the Atlantic became aware of the advantages of Aimpoint optics when they became the go-to Close Quarter Battle sight for military and law enforcement use in the 1990s. The advantages that the Aimpoint provided to our troops were rapid target acquisition, a precision aiming point in any lighting condition and the ability to maintain situational awareness by shooting with both eyes open. All of these are virtues that make it attractive to us as hunters. Unlike iron sights or many magnified optics, Aimpoint sights put the dot and the target on the same visual plane. Simply put the red dot where you want the bullet to go and squeeze the trigger.

Aimpoint offers several models to choose from that can accommodate a variety of firearm types, action lengths and user needs. My personal favorite Aimpoint optic for deer hunting is the Micro H-2. This model weighs just over three ounces and is compact enough to be used on a handgun. It is available with two dot sizes: 2 MOA and 4 MOA, and Aimpoint's dots are extremely crisp. The Micro is fully waterproof and comes equipped with clear flip-up lens covers. Since it has an integrated Weaver and Picatinny-style base, it is simple to mount to nearly any firearm with a single screw. 12 settings allow the user to tune the optic to any lighting condition and the coated lenses increase light transmission. It has a battery life of 50,000 hours which equates to almost six years of constant "on!"


Though this optic is extremely small and light, it's capabilities are huge. It provides extreme precision, but allows the user to keep both eyes open so a wide field of view is maintained. The 4 MOA dot is ideal for handguns and other firearms intended for short-range use since the dot presents a two-inch aiming point at 50 yards and four inches at 100. If longer shots may be on the menu, the 2 MOA dot is usually a better choice. I've used the Micro H-2 on everything from semi-automatic handguns to revolvers, lever-action rifles and semi-automatic carbines. Because the eye relief is unlimited, the Micro can be mounted as close to or as far away from the eye as-desired. It's simply an amazing product.

If a larger optic is preferred for functional or esthetic reasons, the Aimpoint 9000 and H30 series are designed to be used on full size standard and magnum-caliber rifles using traditional scope rings. These optics use 30 and 34mm tubes, respectively, and maintain a more classic appearance on hunting rifles. The multilayer-coated lenses provide the superior optical performance of a larger unit coupled with the simplicity of a single red dot. Like the Micro, the eye relief on these scopes is unlimited so they can be mounted forward on rifles with heavy recoil. They are fully waterproof and can operate in temperatures as low as -20 and as high as 104 degrees Fahrenheit. 50,000 hours of battery life can be expected from a single battery.

If you, like me, enjoy the challenge of hunting with a handgun, Aimpoint's latest product will be a great asset. The Acro P-1 is the company's smallest optic, and is designed specifically for pistol applications which require a low profile red dot including slide-mounting.


The Acro P-1 uses a 3.5 MOA dot and features 10 brightness settings. The Acro is the only sight in its size category that is fully-enclosed from the elements. It weighs two ounces with the battery installed and battery life ranges from six months to more than a year depending on the daytime setting. The optic does not need to be removed in order to change the battery, so no re-zeroing is necessary.

Instead of talking about the distance a deer was shot, I'd love to hear hunters brag about how close they were able to get. Technology has allowed for effective shots from ranges that leave us disconnected with the true hunting experience. Iron sights can be a real challenge to use ethically in the low-light scenarios where much whitetail hunting takes place. Aimpoint's red dot optics allow hunters to shoot effectively in compromising lighting conditions while still encouraging a good stalk and a close-range shot. Try an Aimpoint on your short-range deer gun and challenge yourself to see how close you can get.

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