"Good Optics a must for accurate shooting " by Luke Clayton Luke Clayton Ill admit it, I am a perfectionist when it comes to rifle shooting. Years ago, I was trained in the art of rifle shooting and to this day, I expect my rifles and scopes to perform to minute of angle accuracy. This term equates to keeping rounds in a group that can be covered by a quarter at 100 yards. Back a couple decades ago, it was rare to purchase an over the counter rifle that was built with this capability. Granted, custom rifle makers, for a sizeable sum and when using the best of barrels, could build extremely accurate rifles but most rifles bought over the counter simply could not shoot to minute of angle accuracy. Advancements in manufacturing has greatly improved accuracy in rifles. Thompson Center (TC) now has the Venture rifle on the market that comes with the guarantee to shoot minute of angle accuracy. It does just that and it carries a very affordable price tag. I mentioned in a recent column how pleased I was with the .270 model Venture that I have been shooting. Regardless whether youre shooting a custom rifle or factory model, you simply cannot get the best from your rifle unless it is equipped with a quality sighting device. For most of us, this equates to a scope. When it comes to optics, a good bit of advice is to purchase the best you can afford. There IS a huge difference in scopes. If youve ever mounted a low end scope on your rifle, you know exactly what I am talking about. Cheap scopes usually wont adjust correctly and once they are zeroed they will let you down at the most inopportune moments. Ive never seen one yet that, when the adjustment screws are turned 4 clicks to move point of impact 1 inch at 100 yards, accomplished this goal. It doesnt pay to skimp on quality when it comes to fitting your rife with a scope. Truthfully, Id rather hunt with a rifle capable of shooting only 2 inch groups at 100 yards than risk shooting a cheap scope. Photo by Luke Clayton On the bright side, the smart shopper can find high end scopes today that come with very affordable price tags. While its possible to spend well upwards of a couple grand for highly advertised, imported rifle scopes, it isnt necessary. A company called Alpen Optics is a good case in point. Ive been shooting one of the companys Apex model, a 3 X 9 variable that provides everything I could ask for in a rifle scope, and more. Four clicks moves Point of impact (POI) 1 inch at 100 yards, just as it is suppose to do. Eight clicks moves POK 1 inch at 50 yards. With fully Multi-coated optics, the scope is superb in low light conditions. I proved this recently while on a hunt at Big Woods on the Trinity in Anderson County in East Texas. I was looking for some fresh pork to accompany the venison I had harvested earlier the week before. As most hog hunters know, wild porkers often get up from their beds and begin moving during the last hour of daylight and feed most of the night. During the waning minute or so of daylight one evening last week, I spotted a dark form working its way through a field of weeds. I quickly ranged the animal at 145 yards, picked up my rifle, cranked the scopes power down to 3X and tracked the hog as he moved through the heavy cover. At the low power setting, the Alpen scopes crosshairs were highly visible, and so was the boar, even in extremely low light. I picked an opening in the cover and when the boar walked into it, nudged the trigger. The hog dropped in his tracks. Regardless the rifle I was shooting, this shot would not have been possible without quality optics. With an inferior, low quality scope, I simply would not have been able to see the crosshairs, or possibly even the hog, in the low light. Its no longer necessary to take out a second mortgage on the farm in order to own a quality rifle scope. Take a tip from an old hunter and stay away from those bargain basement optics, I can guarantee you that they carry a heavy price tag in frustration and disappointment when you take them to the range. Duck hunting forecast- Before the opener of the first split of duck season, north and east Texas had plenty of gadwall, teal and widgeon. Several folks I hunt with reported early flights of pintail. The opener was less than spectacular for most duck hunters, thanks to acres and acres of newly flooded lowlands that tends to scatter the birds. I hunt a duck lease southeast of Dallas that is usually awesome throughout the season but, to date, have only harvest a couple of birds. What was ten acres of water has turned into forty. With a much higher than average duck population coming down the flyway this fall, most veteran duck hunters continue to have high hopes for the second split of the season. I checked in with outfitter Mike Ladnier at Bay Prairie Outfitters in southeast Texas near Elcampo. Mike reported a much higher than normal number of early arriving geese, mostly specklebellies had arrived to feed on the rice stubble. Snows have also began arriving on the prairies of southeast Texas, along with Ross geese. Overall we should have an above average season for ducks and geese, we just need the water to recede a bit and wait for a sure nuff blue northern to push the birds south. LC OUTDOOR TIP OF THE WEEK- Jay Don Reeve with the Crappie Anglers of Texas (www.crappieclub.com) says the next month usually provides some of the best crappie fishing of the year. Many Texas lakes have seen an increase of several feet in elevation, thanks to the recent rainfall but crappie should be back on their standard excellent fall bite any day now. says Reeve. Expect to find crappie on an aggressive bite around submerged brush piles and standing timber in water 18-22 feet. Crappie arent picky this time of year, they will usually readily take anything from a jig to live minnow. The trick is to vary the depth you fish until you catch a fish, then mark your line and return to exactly the same depth. Want even more of Luke's hunting/fishing tips and tricks, wild game recipes etc? Listen to Outdoors With Luke Clayton for a new show each week at www.catfishradio.com and check out the new fishing videos at lukeshotspots.com Contact Luke at firstname.lastname@example.org The BOC has a virtual library of Luke's stories right here on the forums; just about anything you could want to read about the outdoors. Click here to see a boat load of information!