Smoking With Dots

By Brian Lisankie, FE Eastern European Station Chief, Turtleneck Branch

“Is that all you’re using?” 

The PH came down to the zeroing range to eyeball his new arrivals and survey our gear prior to the first day of hunting. The “that” he was referring to was an Aimpoint red dot sight mounted on my Blaser .375 H&H. 

You could tell he had serious reservations. This was a plains game hunt in South Africa that could require shooting at moderate distances. He asked if I wanted to borrow a rifle with a magnified scope. 

“Nah mate, I should be good to go.” 

Our PH was merely verbalizing what most American hunters are brainwashed from birth to believe—that big game hunters need a minimum of a 3-9x scope to get the job done. Following some discussion, he finally realized I was serious, and somewhat reluctantly decided to let me proceed with my sight of choice, a Hunter H34S, attached to the rifle. 

Day one resulted in a gemsbok down with a single shot at 120 yards. Day two, a zebra with one shot at 180 yards. Day four, a blesbok smoked while at a dead sprint, and day five, an impala stalked on hands and knees through thick brush at a distance too close for any scope to be useful. 

While a lot of the credit for those results goes to Blaser and Hornady, the Aimpoint sight allowed me to connect on shots that would have been mighty difficult if I’d been using a scope.

Don’t get me wrong; I own a lot of scopes and I use them when required. If I’m hunting whitetails across a Georgia beanfield or mulies out West, I certainly will have a high-quality scope with some serious magnification mounted on my rifle. It makes trophy identification a lot faster and allows me to extend my accurate range out beyond 200 yards. 

But if I’m hunting woodlands, swamp, or pursuing any kind of game that doesn’t like to stand still long, the red dot sight outperforms the scope hands down. Just ask Uncle Sam—he’s bought over a million M68 Close Combat Optics over the past 30-some-odd years to equip U.S. troops. There’s a reason for that.

A lot of professional hunters and guides have come around to realizing just how useful a red dot sight can be for dangerous game. If you ever have to wade into tall grass that contains a leopard, or track a wounded brown bear through alders, or place a quick shot into the brainpan of a charging buff or elephant, you’ll most definitely want the extra speed and accuracy a high quality red dot sight provides.

Conditions require adapting equipment choices on any particular hunt. Type of game affects the choice of rifles and ammunition. Temperature, elevation, snow, and rain alter our decisions of boots, camo, and insulation. The same goes for optics and sights: Irons for close up fun, dots for fast shots, scopes for whenever you can’t get close. 

Don’t be afraid to hunt with all of them, as each offers the perfect answer under different conditions.

Editor’s note: In addition to being FE’s Eastern European Station Chief, Brian is the President of Aimpoint, Inc. The Field Ethos crew has toured Aimpoint’s Swedish manufacturing facilities, hunted with their optics around the world, and can personally attest that their red dots are legit af.