Michigan Night Hunting Laws—How One Hunter Made His Mark

Sightmark Pro Staff member, Bob Abbott was pivotal in getting Michigan’s night hunting laws changed. Read his story here…

#MAKEYOURMARK

I have been predator hunting for quite a few years—most of it at night with a red light over a good day scope. I live in Michigan, where we were only allowed to use rimfire rifles or a shotgun when night hunting. It didn’t take long to realize rimfire rifles and shotguns were not an effective humane way to dispatch an animal as tough as the coyote. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of kills that happened quickly, but there were also far too many for me that ran off only to suffer.

Sightmark Pro Staff member, Bob Abbott was pivotal in getting Michigan’s night hunting laws changed.
Sightmark Pro Staff member, Bob Abbott was pivotal in getting Michigan’s night hunting laws changed.

The coyote population and issues they were causing became a hot topic in Michigan in 2015. The Michigan Natural Resource Commission (NRC) had asked Adam Bump, bear and furbearer specialist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resource (DNR) to do a study and present his recommendations for addressing the issue at the 2015 September NRC meeting in Lansing.

I had been following the NRC meetings and subscribed to their newsletter and noticed that this meeting was set to discuss Adam’s findings, so I went. Adam presented 4 possibilities to the NRC that morning—a year-round season on coyotes, as well as hiring sharpshooters at the cost of $200,000.00 to cover an area in the Upper Peninsula for 2 months. I don’t recall the other two.

Not really knowing how to go about introducing a centerfire at night proposal, I asked a few people I knew during the break. Adam Bump being one of them. He indicated he thought it was a good idea, but the major roadblock would be from DNR law enforcement. Apparently, it had been talked about before and the Chief and Assistant Chief were adamantly against it stating safety reasons.

I had previous connections with the Chief and Assistant Chief for them to clear up other muddled predator hunting laws, so they were familiar with me. During lunch, I approached them and started a conversation about the coyote issues, introducing my idea. It was not received well.

They both said it was not safe and they would never allow it in Michigan. I explained that many of our surrounding states allowed it and asked if they had any safety statistics to go by. They both responded, “no.” I asked them why they thought it would be unsafe when during the day we weren’t restricted by caliper.

Michigan hunters have been allowed to hunt with digital and night vision since 2016.
Michigan hunters have been allowed to hunt with digital and night vision since 2016.

The chief raised his arms as if holding a rifle and fired it into the air and said because some yahoo would do this and the bullet would come down, go through a roof and kill a baby in its crib. I was shocked at his obvious emotional reaction and his words about sportsmen.

I then asked why he thought that wouldn’t happen during the day. The discussion pretty much ended then, but I then knew what I had to do to. I told them they would see me later with a proposal.

I got home that evening knowing I needed to get safety stats from our surrounding states. If the stats showed no concern for safety for both personal injury and property damage, then there was a good chance of getting this through.

I contacted Indiana and Ohio with a request to find out how many personal injury and property damage incidents had happened from predator hunters using a centerfire during the nighttime hours. This proved to be time-consuming as it wasn’t readily known by the main DNR contact numbers for those states who would have that info. I have to say both states were very cooperative and eventually got me to the right people.

I ended up talking to a Major of the Indiana DNR and once I explained what stats I wanted and why I wanted them, he was very happy to help. We spent nearly an hour and a half on the phone gathering all the info I needed, and I was sent an email containing the results.

Next up was Ohio.

It took about eight weeks, but once connected with the person that would be able to get the info to me, things went smoothly. They were very helpful but had requirements and steps that needed to be followed before they could release the info to me. I had to submit a letter with the exact information I needed and why I needed it. Eight weeks later, I received an email with a searchable spreadsheet and an apology for it taking so long.

Now for the results:

Hunting at night is not a crime! Digital scopes and night vision make it easier and more ethical.
Hunting at night is not a crime!

Indiana went back to 2011 and had zero incidents of personal injury or property damage caused by a predator hunter using a centerfire at night. Ohio’s spreadsheet went back to 2003 and showed the same statistics.

This was great news! It was exactly what I needed to get the ball rolling. I knew full well there would be other concerns to address and that recruiting the right people to help was going to be very important as they would need to help address some of the rest of the concerns.

Knowing we would need to have a restricted caliber proposal to even get our proposal looked at, I recruited a friend of mine that was a retired marine and retired DNR officer. He was also a ballistics expert and he helped me form the proposal. He and another retired DNR officer came to testify at the May 2016 NRC meeting in support of the law change. This was a major step forward for the movement. Before this, we had the support of 3 out of the 7 NRC committee members. Afterward, we got the support of the two more we needed.

In 2015, night hunting was not that popular and finding other dedicated night hunters was not that easy. My teammates from “Dog Tired TV” and a few others were the only ones I really knew.

I created the Facebook page “Michigan Predator Hunters for Centerfire at Night” and began to have meetings with the other core supporters that would make up the team. We gathered petition signatures at outdoor expo events around Michigan totaling over 4,000.

From this point on, it was a matter of being present at the meetings to address further concerns and provide expert testimony from others in the sport. Many, many obstacles were thrown up by the opposing side but all of them were answered and in June of 2016, the Michigan United Conservation Club adopted the centerfire proposal (a 42,000 plus membership strong). On December 8th, 2016 the Michigan Natural Resource Commission voted to pass amendment #11.

There are many people who helped along the way, but most notably are the following:

  • Tony Demboski (President Upper Peninsula Sportsman Alliance
  • Merle Jones (Member of Michigan Predator Hunters for Centerfire at Night)
  • Kevin Rought (Member of Overdrive Outdoors)
  • Robert Shultz (Member of Michigan Predator Hunters for Centerfire at Night and Dog Tired TV)
  • Fred Gadsby (Member of Michigan Predator Hunters for Centerfire at Night and Dog Tired TV)
  • Paul Cianciolo (Member of Michigan Predator Hunters for Centerfire, owner of Predator Hunter Outdoors) Order #11 was written to exclude thermal and lights. Paul provided expert testimony on the day of the vote and was able to convince the NRC to amend the order to allow the use of these before the vote.
  • Dale Hendershot (President of Michigan Trappers and Callers Association)
  • NRA for the support

About Bob Abbott

Bob Abbott is the founder of the “Michigan Predator Hunters for Centerfire at Night” grassroots movement that got Michigan legal to use centerfire rifles at night. Bob is also a member of the Dog Tired TV group. Bob has many years of hunting experience. He particularly enjoys hunting the elusive predators at night. Bob starting out with red lights, then moved to Gen1 NV, then to digital NV and now enjoys thermal.

How have your Made Your Mark? Tell us in the comment section.

Click here for your chance to win a Wraith digital scope.

 

Night Vision Explained

Written by guest contributor Richard Douglas.

Night vision is very old tech. Most night vision optics use analog image intensifier tubes — technology that existed ever since the 1930s. In fact, this is the same fundamental technology that the marines used in the Battle of Okinawa (1945). That said, technology has come a long way since then. And now, it’s gotten so good (and affordable) that it can even be used as an AR-10 scope

Which night vision device should you choose? By the end of this guide, you’ll find the right generation of night vision for you.

Let’s get started!

Gen 0 Night Vision

The German "Vampir" or Zielgerät 1229 was a very big infrared illuminator and is considered the first night vision optic.
A German soldier with a Zielgerät 1229 night vision scope.

This generation is the ‘father’ of modern night vision. It is what soldiers used in World War II—basically, a big infrared searchlight to see in the dark. This huge searchlight was too heavy and impractical for common deployment. That’s why you can’t buy it. Instead, they developed…

Gen 1 Night Vision

A Gen 1 AN/PVS-2 night vision device mounted to an M16.
A Gen 1 AN/PVS-2 night vision device mounted to an M16.

In Vietnam, the military started using Gen 1 night vision optics. It was lighter, the light sensitivity was better, and it worked in very close-range applications. The result? It was the first usable night vision on the market. But is it the right night Gen for you? To find out, let’s break down its pros, cons, and how it looks:

Pros

  • Very cheap
  • Great for light usage

Cons

  • Not very clear
  • ‘Fish-eye’ lens effect
  • Blooming or ‘halo effect’ around visible light sources
  • Shorter lifespan (1,500 hours)
  • Short distance—100 yards maximum range
  • IR illuminator gives off position to others

Best Use

If you’re just getting started or a hobbyist, then Gen 1 night vision is for you. It’s cheap and helps you see in the dark in very close-range applications (up to 50 yards).

That said, if you are a little more serious, then go for…

Gen 2 Night Vision

The AN/PVS-4 night vision scope
The AN/PVS-4 night vision scope

Gen 2 arrived in the late 70s. An added microchannel plate allows the night vision optic to be used without extra infrared illumination. This made Gen 2 night vision the first ‘lightweight’ tactical night vision solution. It changed nighttime warfare forever and it’ll probably change your nighttime hunts, too.

Let’s break it down:

Pros

  • Affordable, quality night vision
  • Doesn’t need an IR illuminator to work (although it has one)
  • Improved image quality
  • Longer lifespan (2,500 – 5000 hours)

Cons

  • Lacks image clarity
  • Medium range applications (up to 200 yards)
  • Can cost as much as Gen 3

Best Use

Either nighttime hunting or medium-range application (up to 200 yards) is best for Gen 2. It’s decent for the price. However, if you’re looking to step it up to the very best, then go for…

Gen 3 Night Vision

A look through the Gen 3 Pulsar Phantom night vision riflescope
A look through the Gen 3 Pulsar Phantom night vision riflescope

This is the latest Gen night vision on the market. It originally arrived in the 80s. For Gen 3, a gallium arsenide photocathode (or an upgraded tube) was added. As a result, you can now see almost everything in the dark. But is it worth the extra money?

To find out, let’s break it down:

Pros

  • Highest quality night vision
  • Great low-light performance
  • Doesn’t need an IR illuminator
  • Longest lifespan (10,000+ hours)
  • Goes to 300 yards and beyond
  • Can be used day or night

Cons

  • Very expensive ($1,000+)

Best Use

It’s best used for serious tactical and long-range applications (up to 300+ yards). To put it simply, Gen 3 is the very best, but it does cost a pretty penny. Sometimes going well above the $2,000 price range!

If Gen 2 or 3 are still too expensive for your budget but you don’t want to sacrifice quality or clarity, you’ll probably love…

Digital Night Vision

The Sightmark Wraith features 1-8 digital zoom, 4-32x magnification, CMOS sensor, and 50mm objective lens.
The Sightmark Wraith features 1-8 digital zoom, 4-32x magnification, CMOS sensor, and 50mm objective lens.

Digital utilizes the fundamental technology of night vision (photocathode tubes) and improves it by using modern silicon chips to display the image—similar to a digital camera.

The result?

An affordable optic that performs between Gen 1 to Gen 2 in night vision functionality, which is also completely safe to use during the day. Here’s the breakdown:

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Can be used day or night without breaking the unit
  • Reliable (as it doesn’t burn out easily)
  • Can record video

Cons

  • Not combat-tested yet

How It Looks

Sightmark’s Wraith high-quality digital scope (MSRP $599.99) mixes expensive night vision tech and a magnified riflescope all in one. It is also affordable and reliable.

Here’s a video of Sightmark’s Wraith HD Digital Riflescope in-action:

 

Impressive, isn’t it? With that said, here’s the…

Best Use

Digital day/night vision scopes are for the smart hunter that hunts day and night and shoots up to 200 yards.

So now that we’ve got the night vision generations out of the way, it’s time to address the final question on many people’s minds…

Green or White Phosphor Technology

White phosphor provides great contrast.
White phosphor provides great contrast.

Here’s the truth—both do the same job. There’s no scientific evidence showing one is better than the other. It honestly just boils down to preference. If you like how green phosphor looks, then go for it. Likewise, if you like white phosphor (which looks a bit more natural) go with that. It doesn’t matter. What matters is the resolution of the night optic. So, make sure you spend money on a quality, high-resolution optic rather than going for some fancy phosphor color.

And that’s all there is to night vision. With what you’ve just learned so far…

What Night Vision Technology Will You Choose?

Maybe Gen 2 or the more affordable digital night vision? Either way, let me know in the comments below.

About Richard

Richard Douglas is the founder of Scopes Field, a blog where he reviews the best scopes and guns on the market. He’s been featured on various magazines and publications like Daily Caller, Burris Optics, SOFREP, Boyds Gun Stocks, Talon Grips, American Shooting Journal and so much more.

Digital Riflescopes for Dummies—Quick Start Guide to the Wraith Digital Riflescope

I admit it. I’m pretty old school. The latest in technology doesn’t interest me. The biggest, baddest TV/phone/computer, etc. is never on my “must-have” list. In fact, I get upset every time I have to upgrade my phone because I worry its going to be different and more complicated to operate. Though I do enjoy a few advances—Bluetooth wireless and handsfree, faster internet and the iPhone, I’m slow at adapting and always have been. In college, I almost returned my DVD player because I couldn’t figure out how to hook it up to the TV. I’m that electronically-lame! I’m like that with my firearms, too.

Though electronic and magnified optics are super accurate, you should also master using your iron sights.
Though electronic and magnified optics are super accurate, you should also master using your iron sights.

Though I’ll try anything for testing and evaluation, on my personal guns, I prefer iron/fixed sights. I’m not sure why. I just do. Yes, it makes shooting more challenging. And yes, I can acquire targets quicker with optics. I have run lasers on my handguns and do currently run a red dot on my AR; however, with each new optic comes a learning curve.

I am not a regular hunter and use my firearms mostly for fun and self-defense. Though I have shot long-range before, none of the guns I own are set up for precision shooting. I’ve never mounted a traditional magnified riflescope on any of my firearms. I’ve never had a reason to, but after getting my hands on the new Wraith digital day/night scope, I felt it was high time I get it together and adopt some new technology.

Why?

I mean, I know I’m a writer and should have better words than this, but seriously, this thing is really cool.

The Wraith is a 4-32x50mm digital riflescope with detachable IR illuminator. It provides digital images of your target during the day and black and white or traditional green night vision at night. It features a 1920×1080 high definition CMOS sensor and a 1280×720 FLCOS display. During the day, images appear crisp and clear in full color. Transitioning to low-light situations is a simple touch of the digital controls on top of the unit—power and left, right and up and down arrows for navigating through the menu and settings. Nighttime target acquisition is up to 200 yards. There are 10 different reticle patterns in 9 different colors. It will also record video and still images with 4 to 5 hours of battery life on common 4 AA batteries.

What is Digital Night Vision?

Traditional night vision devices use an image intensifier tube (IIT.) Digital scopes (DNV,) on the other hand, use a charge-coupled device (CCD) or complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) and a micro display. Light that projected onto the CCD or CMOS array from the objective lens is converted to an electronic signal. This signal is then processed and sent to the micro display to be viewed by the user.

Digital night vision devices use a charge-coupled device (CCD) or complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) and a micro display to display images at night.
Digital night vision devices use a charge-coupled device (CCD) or complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) and a micro display to display images at night.

CCD and CMOS sensors are more sensitive to near-IR than IITs and can see light up into 1,000nm. Unlike IIT’s, digital night vision units require the addition of artificial light to create bright images, but digital night vision can be used in daylight conditions. They can also record images directly to an internal memory card or be sent through a video output to a DVR. DNV has now become a viable replacement for Gen 2 night vision as digital offers similar performance and resolution but at a comparable or lesser cost than Gen 2.

Digital night vision devices, like the Wraith, require an outside light source to detect clear images in low and no light. An infrared illuminator creates enough light while going undetected to animals and other people so that targets are clearly identified in the dark.

There are two types of resolution listed on the specifications of digital night vision. Sensor resolution—also capture resolution—is the resolution of the imaging sensor. Display resolution is the resolution of the display or image seen by the user and is not to be confused with the sensor resolution. Resolution refers to the number of pixels in the sensor array or in the display. These numbers refer to the total number of pixels along the width and height of the sensor or display. A resolution of 800×600 means the display or sensor has 800 pixels across its width and 600 pixels high. Generally, the higher the number, the more details the image will provide. For imaging sensors, the more pixels on a sensor array the more light that will be captured which usually increases image brightness, resolution and viewing distance.

Those with traditional riflescope, digital night vision or thermal imaging experience will have no problems setting up their Wraith riflescope, but those of us who need a little extra help in the electronics department may have issues without specific instructions.

The Sightmark Wraith digital night vision riflescope
The Sightmark Wraith digital night vision riflescope

Before shooting with the Wraith, I highly recommend getting familiar with its menu and settings. After becoming familiar with its operation, boresight at home before heading out to the range to sight it in. This will save you a lot of money on ammo, time and frustration.

How to Use the Wraith Digital Night Vision Menu and Settings

To begin, push the power (middle) button. This is also your “select” or “enter” button. You will see the “Sightmark” logo and then when fully powered, you will be on your shooting screen. You’ll see the field of view and a reticle. To access the menu, push the power button again.

Brightness

To adjust the brightness of the image, click on the brightness button, push the power button to select, then the up and down arrows to adjust the brightness. When it is set, push the power button again.

To go back at any time, push the left arrow.

Choosing a Reticle

Push down arrow to “reticle settings.” Push power. Reticle color will be highlighted first. Push the power button. Use the down arrow to scroll through the different colors. Once you’ve selected a color, push power. Give the unit a second and it will then return to the main reticle settings navigation menu. Push power on “reticle style” and use the up and down arrows to change reticles.

Taking Video and Pictures

To take pictures or video, you must have an SD card inserted. Go to: Menu, settings, record mode. Chose ‘video’ or ‘picture’ and push the power button, then the left arrow to return to your shooting screen. To start and stop recording, push the right arrow once. To take a picture, also push the right arrow once. In this mode, if you push the left arrow, it will change your view from day to night vision. To playback, go to “playback” on the menu options and push the power button.

After getting to know the menu and options and how to navigate your Wraith, you’re ready to bore sight it!

To learn how to boresight a rifle, click here.

If you don’t have a boresight, click here.

After boresighting it, you will be ready to head off to the range and start the real fun. Click here to learn how to zero/sight in your Wraith digital riflescope.

How to Sight in the Wraith Digital Day/Night Riflescope

Your Wraith digital day/night vision riflescope will need to be zeroed.

What is zeroing?

Zeroing, or ‘sighting in,’ a scope means aligning your point of aim with the point of impact for the bullet to hit where you want it to. If you don’t sight in your scope, you will likely miss your target. Zeroing is necessary for hunters, long-range precision shooters, competitors and anyone concerned with accuracy.

Sighting in requires a target with bullseye and grid, ammo and plenty of time. To save costs on range fees and ammo, we strongly recommend boresighting your Wraith riflescope with a laser boresight. Boresighting is quick, easy and the most efficient way to get your Wraith digital riflescope close to zero with the ability to get on paper with your first shot.

To learn how to boresight your Wraith scope, click here.

Once boresighted, you’ll want to head to the range to fire live ammo. (Don’t forget to remove your boresight!) A vise or shooting rest will keep your rifle steady during the sight-in process. This will keep your rifle centered, mitigate recoil and reduce fatigue.

The hole left from a .223 Remington bullet can be small and nearly impossible to see, even from shorter distances—especially if you have poor eyesight. Take a pair of binoculars or a spotting scope with you to identify where you hit on the target. You also may be able to see where you are hitting using the Wraith’s 8x magnification.

Follow these steps to sight in your Wraith Digital Riflescope:

The Sightmark Wraith digital night vision riflescope
The Sightmark Wraith digital night vision riflescope
  1. Mount your Wraith riflescope with a comfortable eye relief. (Eye relief is the distance between your eye and the eyepiece on the scope. If you mount your riflescope too close to the rear of your rifle, the recoil of the gun can cause the scope to hit you in the forehead, causing what’s called ‘scope bite,’ resulting in a nasty cut or bruise.)
  2. Turn your Wraith on by pushing down the center button until the Sightmark logo appears.
  3. Adjust both the eyepiece diopter and focus adjustment until you get a crisp, clear image of your target. (The diopter is the measurement of the eye’s curvature. Since people’s eyes are all curved differently, the eyepiece diopter adjustment brings everything on the display screen such as your reticle and menu options into focus.)
  4. Choose your preferred reticle pattern and color in the “Reticle Settings” menu.
  5. Place the center of your reticle as seen through the scope at the center of the target, take 1 to 3 shots.
  6. Tap the center button once to bring up the main menu.
  7. Using the arrows on top of the unit, scroll down to “Reticle Settings” and tap the center button to select.
  8. Use the bottom (down) arrow to scroll to “Reticle Zero.” Press the center button to select this option.
  9. An additional red crosshair—called the red adjustment reticle in the manual—will pop up alongside your chosen reticle. Keep your reticle’s crosshairs pointed to the center of the target.

Note: There will be four sets of numbers displayed on the top of the “Reticle Zero” screen. These numbers represent the reticle’s offset from the center. They are not necessary for the zeroing process but may be useful for readjusting to a known zero if you save these numbers.

  1. Using the up, down, left and right arrows, move the red adjustment reticle to the bullet hole (“point of impact”) group of holes you shot in step 5.
  2. Exit out of the “Reticle Zero” setting by pushing the center button to return to the main screen.
  3. Take another 1 to 3 shots.
  4. Repeat steps 5 through 12 until zeroed. The Wraith is properly sighted in when the point of impact is the same as the point of aim.

 

 

Marathon Hunting Never Looked So Good

Merriarm-Webster suggests marathons aren’t just for runners; in fact, by the trusted source’s definition, a marathon is “something characterized by great length or concentrated effort.” Always one to box things up with labels, then I had to take up marathon hunting. Of course, I’m also one to stir pots so responses to inquiries were immediate… and effectively repetitive, “What’s marathon hunting?”

The Sightmark Wraith allow you to hunt during the day and at night.
Have you hunted from the day into the night?

In the context of long stalks and even longer sits, marathon is practiced by countless hunters, predominately during deer season and especially during the rut; however, there is another side to marathon hunting most hunters have never considered—hunting daylight into nighttime. Yes, it’s a thing and last I checked (2017), 17 states permitted this transition during deer hunting season. Hunters could legally transition from hunting deer during daylight shooting hours to hogs, predators and varmints, or some combination thereof, at night. To this end, here in Texas, some of us literally turned hunts into 24-hour pursuits—yes, we load up on energy drinks.

While numerous states allow marathon hunting, doing so took some effort, especially in terms of optics. Hunters committed to hunting during the day and continuing into the night often had to change rifles from one topped with a traditional day optic to some type of electro-optic, i.e. traditional or digital night vision, or even thermal. Others literally changed optics, checked accuracy, and then returned to the hunt. Of course, outside of traditional hunting seasons, hunting regulations from state to state are often even more lax when it comes to electro-optics, including using them 24 hours per day and effectively eliminating any need to switch firearms or optics.

The Sightmark Wraith features 1-8 digital zoom, 4-32x magnification, CMOS sensor, and 50mm objective lens.
The Sightmark Wraith features 1-8 digital zoom, 4-32x magnification, CMOS sensor, and 50mm objective lens.

Admittedly, optics suitable for handling a 24-hour task have been few, far between and expensive, until now. The Sightmark Wraith solves our 24-hour electro-optic problem once and for all without breaking the bank. At an MSRP of $599, hunters can jump into a digital optic providing true HD, full-color digital imaging by day and with the touch of a button, tried-and-true traditional green or black-white digital night vision for post-sunset pursuits. Even better, the Sightmark Wraith boasts up to 1080 HD photo and video capture with a 1280×720 resolution FLCOS display.

The Sightmark Wraith features 1-8 digital zoom, 4-32x magnification, CMOS sensor, 50mm objective lens, ¼-MOA windage and elevation adjustment values and SD card media storage compatible with up to 64gb cards. Photo and video files are self-contained in easy-to-use .jpg and .mp4 formats. The Wraith’s battery life is up to 4.5 hours and can also be powered with a micro-USB cable. The Wraith also includes up to 10 reticles in 9 colors for a customized display and can detect targets out to 200 yards with the included 850nm LED IR illuminator. All this to close with good news. Marathon hunting is hard work. It’s good to finally see a true 24-hour optic up to the task.

Click here to check out the Wraith digital day/night scope!

Best AR-15 Scope for Coyote Hunting

(Always check your local laws before hunting any animal!)

Many predator hunters use thermal imaging or night vision.
Many predator hunters use thermal imaging or night vision.

Coyote hunting is fun and challenging. Coyotes are fast with keen senses, so they spook easily. A successful coyote hunt consists of pre-scouting, sitting still and then being able to shoot quickly but also accurately. Many states consider the coyote a predator and therefore open to hunting all year long, without bag limits and very few restrictions. This makes setting up your predator rifle with coyote hunting accessories that much more fun! Think night vision, thermal imaging and suppressors!

Like hunting any other animal, you need the right gun and the right optics. You’ll be shooting coyotes mostly from mid-range—200-300 yards. Sometimes, you’ll luck out by getting a good shot at dogs at 50 to 75 yards. A lot of coyote hunters prefer a lower magnification scope.

The best time to hunt coyotes is when they are most active. Coyote wander from the den looking for food right after sunset and at dawn when its dark. Because of this, you need an optic or riflescope with an objective large enough to allow in plenty of light, so you get a clear picture in low-light situations—a 40mm or 50mm objective is best. Many coyote hunters, especially those who hunt at night, will choose red dot or reflex sights, thermal scopes, night vision or scopes with illuminated reticles.

Though the type of optic preferred is personal preference, these are our personal favorites for coyote hunting:

Wraith

The Sightmark Wraith features 1-8 digital zoom, 4-32x magnification, CMOS sensor, and 50mm objective lens.
The Sightmark Wraith features 1-8 digital zoom, 4-32x magnification, CMOS sensor, and 50mm objective lens.

The Wraith is Sightmark’s newest and most technologically advanced digital riflescope useable both day and night. With 10 illuminated reticles and 9 colors to choose from, the versatile Wraith goes from long-range shooting to plinking and every type of hunt from deer to hog. The 4-32x50mm scope has a removable 850nm IR illuminator with up to a 200-yard range at night. The Wraith comes with on-board video recording and SD card slot. It will save five shooter profiles, so rezeroing isn’t an issue when you transfer the scope to another firearm. The 50mm objective and 1920×1080 HD sensor helps produce a clear, full-color day time image. At night, switch over to classic green or black and white night vision.

Photon RT

 

The Photon RT 6x50 digital night vision scope detects targets up to 200 yards in total darkness.
The Photon RT 6×50 digital night vision scope detects targets up to 200 yards in total darkness.

The Photon RT 6×50 digital night vision scope detects targets up to 200 yards in total darkness. Also useable during the day, the Photon RT has a 768×576 CMOS sensor, an invisible 940nm built-in IR illuminator and a high-resolution 640×480 LCD display to produce crisp clear images. A 2x digital zoom details far away game so you can be assured of a precise shot. You have a choice of 6 illuminated reticles with 4 different colors to suit whatever environment, weather conditions and targets you’re aiming at.

Ultra Shot M-Spec FMS Reflex Sight with 3x Magnifier

 

This reflex sight transitions from close quarters to longer-ranges when paired with a magnifier and acquires targets quickly.
This reflex sight transitions from close quarters to longer-ranges when paired with a magnifier and acquires targets quickly.

This reflex sight transitions from close quarters to longer-ranges when paired with a magnifier and acquires targets quickly. For red dot sights, the Ultra Shot M-Spec offers the best reticle for coyote hunting—a 2 MOA dot with 65 MOA ring. The wide-angle lens and anti-reflective lens coating provide a clear field of view. It has 10 brightness settings and is night-vision compatible. Offering 3x magnification to any of your reflex or red dot sights, the tactical magnifier has a flip to side mount easily deployed when you need it.

Citadel 3-18x50mm

With a red illuminated milliradian reticle, you can estimate range and determine shot holdovers for windage and compensate for bullet drop.
With a red illuminated milliradian reticle, you can estimate range and determine shot holdovers for windage and compensate for bullet drop.

With a red illuminated milliradian reticle, you can estimate range and determine shot holdovers for windage and compensate for bullet drop. The Citadel 3-18x50mm is a comprehensive riflescope with a first focal plane etched glass reticle. This scope’s LR2 ballistic reticle and magnification range are optimized for longer range shooting.

Do you hunt coyote? What optics do you run? Tell us in the comment section.

 

Wave of the Future: High-Tech Hunting Optics

My introduction to digital optics doesn’t seem so long ago… but it was. In fact, it was over 40 years ago. My feet barely touched the floor of the theater and I’m sure I was covered in popcorn crumbs—my lips and teeth rosy from Red Vines and Dr. Pepper. My father may not have been excited to see Star Wars IV: The Last Hope (1977) but I sure was and since then I’ve often recalled the moment when Luke Skywalker uses his digital MB450 macrobinocular to observe Tuscan Raiders deep in Tattooine’s Jundlan Wastes.

Luke Skywalker in Start Wars IV: The Last Hope using his MB450 macrobinocular
Luke Skywalker’s MB450 macrobinocular

Just a few years later, laden with popcorn crumbs with Red Vines by my side again, I watched young Skywalker use his Model 1000 macrobinocular to observe AT-AT Walkers on the ice-planet Hoth advancing across an open tundra toward Echo Base in Star Wars V: Empire Strikes Back (1983.)

Heck, we even see a feeble attempt at thermal imagery through a riflescope in Navy SEALS (1990,) although it was simply over-exposed, sepia-filtered footage with no signs of heat signatures or a reticle. Of course, I was still in the Marine Corps in the early 90s and had heard of thermal imaging… but I had never seen the technology—it was rare technology for enlisted Jarheads to say the least.

Fast-forwarding to the past decade or so, we saw digital optics in multiple grades and forms leap off Hollywood screens and into the hands of wanting consumers who had more mad-money to blow in a month than I made in a year. Digital optics, more specifically traditional night vision and ridiculously expensive thermal devices were showing up in the hands of more law enforcement officers, predator hunters, contractors and even niche sasquatch and ghost hunting enthusiasts. Before people knew it, Hollywood was in the game again, this time with legitimate products and original footage. Soon after, outdoor television jumped on board and we began seeing isolated night vision footage on hunts.

The Sightmark Wraith transitions from day to night vision smoothly.
The Sightmark Wraith transitions from day to night vision smoothly.

The trend continued and just five years ago, we began seeing massive drops in price points, stellar production improvements, and more compact product designs—technological advances that not only make digital optics more affordable but much more desirable, too. While traditional night vision seemed to maintain a higher price point than most people wanted to pay, say $5,000 – $10,000, digital night vision snuck in at a fraction of the cost with similar Gen 1 to Gen 2 detection ranges and image resolution performance—in 2015, the Sightmark Photon XT came in at about $600 with Gen 1+ quality while the Pulsar Digisight Ultra N455 jumped in with Gen 3 performance and a price point around $1,500. Thermal also became affordable with some thermal monoculars selling for as low as $3,500 with 240 to 384 microbolometer resolution sensors.

Today’s a good day to be in the digital optic game. While law enforcement and consumer use of thermal imaging optics has exploded, so has usage of seriously affordable digital night vision and more recently digital riflescopes offering crisp imaging around the clock. Costs of thermal riflescopes, monoculars and binoculars, Pulsar branded optics as examples, have dropped to between $1,800 and $8,000 while features have continually and dramatically improved, including 640×480 microbolometer sensor resolution, picture-in-picture, built-in video and WiFi, stored rifle and load profiles, rangefinding technology, customizable reticles, multiple color palettes and more. Even devices costing 4 times as much just 5 years ago did not include these features.

For most hardworking folks with smaller budgets, digital riflescopes have taken their place among the most popular options for affordable, multi-tasking optics with similar user-friendly features as today’s thermal devices. Their recent unveilings capitalize on the advanced technology showcased in recent digital light vision offerings. While thermal and digital night vision can certainly be used during daylight hours, imaging is generally pared down to hues of like tints and colors like blacks, whites and grays. Thermal may offer color palette options but digital night vision has always been the vanilla black and white you see today. Digital riflescopes give you much more than a black and white world. They give you full color.

When it comes to the latest technological advancement of digital riflescopes, color imaging, the Sightmark Wraith goes yet a step further, offering full-color 1080 HD imaging. From dawn to dusk, see the world in your field of view as it was meant to be, clear, crisp and vibrant. When the sunsets, the Wraith makes transitioning to black and white imaging, and even green imaging, as simple and immediate and pushing a single button. If you have ever hunted during the day and had to change optics or rifle systems altogether to continue night hunting, you understand just how valuable and convenient a feature like this can be.

The Sightmark Wraith allow you to hunt during the day and at night.
Have you hunted from the day into the night?

Of course, the Wraith offers more, including features only recently added to today’s higher-priced digital optics like multiple reticle types and colors, built-in video, durable water-resistant construction, manual and distance focusing, a Weaver and Picatinny rail mounting system and upgradeable firmware. The Wraith also boasts 4x base magnification, up to 32x, and a detachable infrared illuminator. A third-party illuminator, like stand-alone IR illuminators from Pulsar, can be mounted easily to stretch your night vision detection range out to seriously respectable distances—skilled nighttime predator hunter, Bob Abbott recently shared footage to social media of a clearly visible fox milling around a field in the dark over 420 yards away—not too shabby for a $500 digital riflescope!

And this is where we are in 2019—a great time to be alive and amazing time to jump into digital riflescopes. Are digital riflescopes going to rule the world? Considering the many iterations of digital now at play in the world of optics, I would have to say yes. Digital technology has effectively invaded virtually every optic type available today—this doesn’t mean every model from every manufacturer. This means we see digital reflex sights, prism sights, red dots, low-powered fixed and variable magnification scopes, high-powered precision rifle scopes, rangefinders and spotting scopes, monoculars and binoculars and yes, most obviously, the optics considered in this article.

As these optics relate to more niche use, including low-light, nighttime and 24-hour activities, many of us agree, digital optics, in some form including illuminated reticles, most certainly due rule the optic world. And yes, I do believe it won’t be long before enthusiasts willing to jump into the digital fray find out these optics absolutely do rule!

Do you use a digital optic? Do you think digital optics will rule the world? Comment below!