Turkey Hunting with a Red Dot: Leupold’s DeltaPoint Pro
When we first started hunting turkeys here in New York’s Hudson Valley, back in the mid-1980s, our gear would be best described as primitive when compared to today’s kit. Though we had a season in place since before I was born—the first New York spring season was in place in 1968—the bird population was nothing like we know now, and the concept of hunting in anything other than the fall and winter was completely alien. Spring was for fishing, and that was that.
Being a teenager who was starving for any sort of hunting experience, I pushed my father and maternal grandfather to try this “hunting in spring nonsense.” Donning some military surplus camouflage (begrudgingly for my elders) obtained from the local Army/Navy surplus store, some 3-inch, 12-gauge shells loaded with lead No. 4 shot and the same shotguns we’d use for rabbits, pheasants and partridges, we headed to the green woods with high hopes. I’m sure I sounded like anything but a lovesick hen, but eventually a tom of questionable sobriety presented himself for courtship. Holding the bead of my Remington 870 Express on the bird’s neck, I broke the trigger and shortly stood over my first tom turkey. Not all experiences would run this smooth, and I soon learned the effective distance of my shotgun with the modified choke, changed that out for a Remington Extra-Full, found the revolutionary Remington DuPlex shotshells, and gradually improved my gear. What didn’t change was my aiming system.
My battered 870 Express has a front bead which measures 0.145 inches in diameter, and at 41 inches from my eye will cover 12 MOA. At 50 yards, which is still a long poke for a shotgun, that means the bead will cover 6 inches; that means the tom’s head could be completely covered by the bead. Couple that with the fact that older eyes cannot give the same crisp image to the brain that the younger eyes do (at a half-century old, I need reading glasses for all fine work) the crude bead can be a source of frustration. Enter the Leupold DeltaPoint Pro.
Having seen other guys trying scopes on their turkey guns, I didn’t like the narrow field of view, even with the lowest power scopes, though I did appreciate the single focal plane. It was my first experiences using a red dot or reflex sight on a handgun which enlightened me; it gave the wide-open feel of iron sights, yet required just one focal plane, and the target acquisition was just as fast as iron sights. I then had one mounted on a double rifle in .470 Nitro Express when I hunted Asiatic water buffalo in the Northern Territory of Australia; I killed a huge bull at 17 yards, and by hunting partner used the same rig to take one at 125 yards. The application in the turkey woods was a logical conclusion, as it preserves the feel of the shotgun, yet offers an aiming solution that hunters of all ages can appreciate.
Leupold’s Delta Point Pro is a bold, rugged sight which can be adapted to a number of firearm styles, but for my purposes is mounted to a Picatinny rail—via a plate adapter, sold separately—on top of the receiver of my semi-auto TriStar Viper (which, by the way, is a great turkey gun). With one of the widest screens of any sight of its type, measuring a full inch, the DeltaPoint Pro is perfect for a dedicated turkey gun. Though the action takes some of the sting out of the recoil, the DeltaPoint Pro is plenty strong enough to stand up to the recoil of any shotgun you’re likely to bring to the turkey woods.
Having toured the Leupold factory, I’ve met the Punisher—the recoil machine that generates hellacious forces which are used to test Leupold’s products—and if the DeltaPoint Pro can handle a ride on that machine, it won’t move on your shotgun. And where that shotgun bead covered 12 MOA, the Delta Point Pro has a 2.5-MOA dot, which the user can easily adjust for varying intensity levels in the field, even with gloves on. The rubberized adjustment button is located on the top of the unit, just above the battery. And speaking of which, the DeltaPoint Pro is powered by a CR2032 battery; the user can quickly and easily change batteries from the top-side of the unit without compromising zero at all.
Battery life ranges from 300 hours to 1,600 hours, depending on intensity level; however, it features Leupold’s Motion Sensor Technology, which shuts the unit off after five minutes of inactivity, yet comes right back to life the instant that motion is detected, further preserving battery life.
There are 1-MOA windage and elevation coin-slot adjustments, with a positive click; I quickly adjusted my gun to have the pattern’s center to point of aim at 35 yards. Weighing in at an even two ounces—without the adapter plate—and measuring 1 ⅞ inches long and 1 ⅝ inches high, the DeltaPoint Pro doesn’t ruin the feel of your shotgun, doesn’t hang up on the brush and won’t let you down.
Leupold has tested the DeltaPoint Pro in temperatures ranging from -40˚F all the way up to 160˚F, and is waterproof to one atmosphere (33 feet). Like all Leupold products, the glass is exceptional, and the aspheric lens is scratch-resistant; a molded rubber cover is included to prevent unwanted dings and scratches when not hunting with the unit. There is a low battery sensor—the dot will flash 10 times to warn the user that the battery is running low—and Leupold includes the proper Torx screws and wrenches to attach the unit to the mounting plate.
There are folks who will refuse to embrace any aiming system other than the traditional shotgun bead, and if that is the way they prefer to hunt, so be it, For me, I want—though some say ‘need’—every advantage I can get, and that includes the best calls, ammunition, choke, camo, and yes, aiming system. I love the DeltaPoint Pro for its balance of wide field of view, zero magnification, bold red dot, compact size and ultimate reliability. I am certain the turkey community will not share those sentiments.
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Article by PHILIP MASSARO