May 22, 2020
By Taylor Pardue
The doe seemed to appear out of nowhere, cresting the ridge to my right before slowly feeding around and behind me. The wind was at my back, so there was no danger of her catching my scent, but I also didn’t have a shot. I wasn’t too concerned, though, because I couldn’t decide whether she warranted shooting so early in the hunt.
Darkness was beginning to creep across the horizon as the doe made her way to my left. After what seemed like forever, she stopped to feed behind some downed trees about 35 yards away. I still didn’t have a shot, so I settled back onto my climber’s seat to see whether other deer would make their way past.
The doe had begun to feed back the way she had come, still offering me no shot, when she abruptly changed direction and came directly toward my stand. I’ve heard other bowhunters say that deer they’d shot “had a death wish” or “were asking for it,” but never have I seen a deer come in on such a taut string. When she got to within 25 yards of my tree, I drew my bow and prepared to shoot.
What followed wasn’t the most extensive test of the Burris Oracle’s abilities, but it did highlight some benefits for bowhunters looking to combine their bow sight and rangefinder. A quick press of the activation button Velcroed to my bow’s grip confirmed the doe was standing 25 yards from my stand, but she kept coming closer. At 21 yards, she started to turn perpendicular to me. A chance to shoot seemed imminent.
Then the doe turned again and kept coming toward me — first the Oracle put her at 19 yards, then 17 yards, then 16 yards. The leaves had long since fallen from my tree and those surrounding it, but the doe hadn’t seemed to mind my silhouette until she hit 14 yards. Suddenly, this seemingly suicidal whitetail went on full alert and stared right at me for several minutes. (Remember, I’m still at full draw at this point.) All I could do was hold on and hang out while she tried to determine what I was.
Like the female panther living in a cave with Hatchet Jack in Jeremiah Johnson, that doe never did get used to me. She did, however, begin slowly angling away without ever taking her eyes off me. That’s when I let the hammer fall.
The concept of combining bow sights and rangefinders isn’t unique to Burris, but the Oracle certainly represents a new take on the idea. The Oracle features a glass-free sight housing to prevent glare or fogging, a vertical bar of LEDs that serve as “pins” and a plastic chevron for use as a permanent, analog 20-yard pin. Ranges are adjusted for the angle of the shot, with the distance displayed on an LED screen attached to the sight housing. The Oracle runs on a CR123 battery and is rated for 1,000-2,000 sight activations, with the chevron there just in case you forget to put in a fresh battery when needed.
The Oracle operates via a laser beside the sight housing and can range deer out to 200 yards (maximum effective range is 500 yards). Sight in the chevron at 20 yards just like a pin on any other sight and then calibrate the rangefinding laser, using a removable laser pointer, so it appears roughly two inches to the right of the aiming point at 20 yards. A special tool and reflective target are included for this.
From there, the Oracle uses the laser to range two distances in order to establish an arrow’s trajectory and determine proper LED placement on the vertical bar. Simply range a target — say, 30 yards — and then shoot using the provided LED. Your ideal pin location may be a bit higher or lower than the suggested one; just move the LED up or down as needed via the appropriate button located below the sight housing.
Once you’ve saved the first distance, range a new target at least 11 yards farther away and shoot using that provided LED. Again, adjust the LED as needed. Save that pin and you’re done — range and shoot at any distance from 80 to 110 yards depending on your arrow’s weight and the resulting speed.
The Oracle works for lefties as well as right-handed shooters. The sight automatically flips its LED readout when it senses it is being used upside down; a left-handed shooter will simply need to adjust the laser to hit a bit low and to the left of the aiming point rather than immediately to the right.
Bowhunters considering the Oracle may be curious about the extra weight it adds to a bow. At 17 ounces, the Oracle does weigh more than my usual bow sight and rangefinder — 7.5 ounces and 7.7 ounces, respectively — combined, but not by much. I think that’s a reasonable tradeoff for the movement it eliminates when I don’t have to range and then draw.
Another perceived problem with the Oracle is a bowhunter’s inability to range an animal or target before coming to full draw. True, I couldn’t range and range and range the doe as she walked around my stand, but really, what difference would it have made if the deer had hung up at 103 yards versus 107 yards? I know when a deer gets within my effective range, and that’s the only time accurate ranging truly matters.
Something I would like to see changed in future iterations of the Oracle is its pin brightness. The LEDs are adjustable for brightness, but they revert to the maximum brightness setting when the sight powers down. That’s not the worst thing in the world, but when you activate the sight in low light, you don’t want to be stunned by a flash when you’re focusing on a deer. Why not allow bowhunters to choose what intensity they want the LEDs to be set at upon activation?
I thought I could do without an all-in-one bow sight until I started using the Oracle; now, I can hardly go back to a “normal” setup. I believe you’ll feel the same! MSRP: $575 | burrisoptics.com