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My Spring with the Trijicon SRO By Tim Herald

My Spring with the Trijicon SRO

By; Tim Herald

Although most of the hunting I do these days is for big game internationally, my roots go back to whitetail and turkey, and I am still an obsessed spring turkey hunter. I love the interaction with the birds, being in the field during spring, and the wonderful camaraderie that many of us share while pursuing the King of Spring.

I am also a gear guy when it comes to turkeys. Not so much in calls and vests, etc. as I am using the same proven calls that I used a decade ago, but more into the gun, choke, ammo and optics. With today’s phenomenal turkey ammunition that has been taken over by TSS shot being channeled through sophisticated chokes, patterns are incredibly tight and evenly distributed. With these developments, hunters can cleanly harvest turkeys at longer ranges if they wish, but they must also consider that for close shots, patterns may only be the size of a baseball. Thus, the importance of good optics.

I have several dedicated turkey shotguns setup for me and my two sons who also love turkey hunting. My son Will’s gun is a Benelli M1 3” 12 gauge with a 21” barrel, a .660 choke and is topped with a Trijicon MRO sight that has a 2MOA green dot. I have shot a few birds with it myself, and I really like the super short barrel and the crisp, clean 2MOA green dot. I also have a tried-and-true Remington 870 Supermag with a 23” barrel and a .660 choke that is topped with a Trijicon RMR Type 2 with a 3.25 MOA sight. This is the same sight I use on my double rifle for buffalo and elephant, so I am very accustomed to and comfortable with it. It was my “go to” setup for many years, and I would be scared to know how many gobblers it has racked up, but I know it is well over 100.

My dad passed away a couple of years ago, and he couldn’t hunt the last few springs that he was alive, so in tribute to him and his love of turkey hunting, I took his spring gun and began hunting with it. It is an old original Benelli Super Black Eagle 1. I also shoot a .660 choke, and #9 TSS shells in either 3” or 3.5”. For the past few years, it has also been topped with a RMR Type 2, but before this spring, on the advice of my old friend Eddie Stevenson, I switched and put a Trijicon SRO on it. Eddie told me if I liked the RMR and MRO, I would love the SRO as it sort of brings the best of both sights into one.

After installing, I went out and did my due diligence and went through a thorough patterning session. I like to sight in a 40-yards knowing that at that point I am good from 0-60 yards no problem. I don’t like to shoot 60 yards, but in some extreme situations I will as I really think this combo with TSS will cleanly kill a gobbler at 75 yards. I was very pleased with 400 pellets in a 10” circle at 40 yards, and I knew the turkeys were going to be in trouble.

Another goal of mine this spring was to win over my son Drew on using a red dot type sight. He had been a holdout using fiber optic, rifle type sights on his Benelli M1, but I knew if I could get him to just hunt a little with one of my Trijicons, he would be hooked.

On opening day in KY, Drew had to work in the morning but could hunt the afternoon. I had done a lot of scouting, and I knew the afternoon pattern of a big gobbler that had given me the slip on numerous occasions the spring before and we never shot him. We called him “sissy bird” because he would not come to a call or decoys, stayed away from other gobblers or even jakes, and rarely would strut and I never heard him gobble except on the roost.

I knew a point on a field edge he had been using a lot in the afternoons and had a blind positioned there. The main trail he came out on was 35 yards and I had a cell trail camera there. At 1PM I got a picture of him, and we couldn’t get out until 2:30. I knew he would be close as the patch of woods there is only about 5 acres, so I hoped we could make it in the blind undetected.

I told Drew it wouldn’t be an exciting hunt. I wasn’t going to call, and I put out 1 single hen decoy. I figured if the tom came out, maybe he would look at the decoy and pause long enough to give Drew a shot. As we were adjusting the windows in the blind, Drew whispered, “there he is” and sure enough, about 120 yards away in the open woods, I could see the longbeard walking left to right. He was headed toward the trail that came into the field by my camera.

Drew got himself turned into a shooting position, and two minutes later the gobbler stepped out. He glanced our way, disregarded the decoy, and turned and began feeding away. We hadn’t been in the blind long enough for me to even put a turkey call in my mouth, so I just made a loud putt with my voice, his head came up, Drew put the RMR Type 2 dot on his neck, and “sissy bird” was dead. He was a very nice tom weighing 23.5 pounds, had an 11” beard and 1 1/16” spurs.

 

I asked Drew what he thought about the red dot, and he said, “Dad I am converted. I am not sure I could have made that quick shot as he was walking away without that sight. I was able to put the red dot on his head quickly and I knew he would be dead.”

 

He went on to take another big gobbler the next morning at a mere 13 steps, and he told me he really liked the dot in that application because he knew he had to be precise that close because it was almost like shooting a slug. So next year, there will be a Trijicon on Drew’s shotgun as well.

An hour or so after Drew shot “sissy bird”, we moved locations, and I was incredibly lucky to have a huge 24.5-pound gobbler strut in behind a hen that came to my decoys, and I crushed him at about 18 yards. It was my first bird with the SRO, and I really liked the site picture I got. It has a bit wider field of view, and I liked the 2.5MOA dot.

I few days later I travelled to Michigan to hunt with my good friend Tom, and the hunting proved to be very challenging. The first morning, I had a 50-yard shot at the first of a group of 3 longbeards we had been on for 2 hours, but they looked like they were all coming to the decoys, so I held off. Things went south, they skirted us, and my opportunity was gone. The next morning, we sneaked in tight on them on the roost, they flew down and strutted for 20 minutes at 63 yards. I know my gun would easily kill one at that range, but again, I thought they would come closer as we had 3 hens inside 40 yards.  A loud-mouth hen over the bluff dragged them away, so again, no shot.

The last evening of the hunt, we setup again by their roost, and I told Tom the first solid opportunity I had to shoot, I was taking it. We had hens come in and out of our field all afternoon, and about 7:30PM we were watching a pair of hens feeding about 50 yards to our right. Something caught my eye from the left, and I turned to see a longbeard fast walking toward the hens. I quickly grabbed my shotgun, trained the dot on the tom, and as soon as he paused, I gave him a load of #9’s. He didn’t so much as flop. It all happened in a flash, and when we walked out to pick him up, Tom ranged our blind and told me it was about 55 yards. I usually like my shots a lot closer, but on hard hunts, it’s nice to know your equipment will perform when you need it to.

One thing I noticed on that hunt was that the 2.5MOA dot is super crisp, and its size doesn’t block out too much of a turkey even at longer ranges. The wide field of view really helped get on that bird quickly, even though he was walking at fast pace.

The last bird I was able to take this spring was probably the best hunt of the 13 successful harvests I was able to be a part of. The gobbler was roosted where I expected, but usually they come first thing to a flat, where I have a blind, to strut. This bird flew out the opposite way, and I saw him out in a big pasture across a wide draw 500 yards away. He was strutting and gobbling his head off and answered me every call, but I saw two hens and three jakes on his side of the draw about 150 yards from him.

He made his way toward the other turkeys, but the jakes blew up and rushed him. He turned around and started away, but he still gobbled at every call I made. Things weren’t looking good, but then he did a 90 degree turn and started down the draw in my direction.

When he got to the bottom I lost sight of him, but he was gobbling so much, I knew exactly where he was. Then he just appeared about 80 yards out directly behind my decoys that were at 30 yards. He stood there and gobbled twenty times as he popped in and out of strut, but he would not come closer. I pleaded on my calls, but to no avail, and finally he turned and walked into the woods almost like he was scared of something. I figured the 3 jakes were approaching, and then I heard putting over the hill in the woods, and figured the game was over.

I called off and on, and no response from what had been a super loud-mouth, so my hopes plummeted. About 15 minutes later, I caught sight of a hen feeding at about 50 yards, so I called quietly to her. GOBBBBBLLLLLLE!!! He was back and in the same spot about 30 yards behind her.

She was working to my left which would take her behind a barn, but if he followed, he should give me a 50-yard shot.

The hen fed around the back of the barn, came out on the other side, and walked straight to the two hen decoys I had place on that side just in case something like this happened. Surely the tom would follow behind and give me a chip shot?

When he went behind the barn, he was still 75 yards out, but I was feeling confident of my chances. He gobbled behind the barn, and then I saw him step out. There was some old farm equipment at the corner of the barn I had ranged at 55-yards, and he strutted and gobbled behind it. He turned and went back behind the barn. I couldn’t believe it!

I called, he gobbled, and soon, he came back out strutting. He gobbled at me, and I could see the steam come out of his beak as it was an unseasonable cold morning with a heavy frost. He cleared the farm equipment, and I grabbed my gun. I was self-filming the hunt, or I would have already had my muzzle out of the blind. Before I was able to get the gun positioned, he had turned and strutted back behind the equipment, and then out of site around the barn.

I decided the next time he came out, if he came out, I was shooting as soon as I could see his head. Sure enough, he strutted back out. I ranged his fan behind the farm equipment at 58-yards, I grabbed my gun and got ready. I made a loud call, he craned his neck to look in my direction, and all I could see was from his wattles up. That’s all I needed as I was able to put the SRO’s dot precisely on his head, and on my shot, he folded up and dropped on the spot without a twitch. 100% my optic made that shot possible. He was a dandy with a big thick beard and 1 ½” dagger spurs. It was a great way to end my spring.

For more info on the Trijicon SRO, see https://www.trijicon.com/products/subcategory/trijicon-sro

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