First, thank you for stopping shooting and waiting to confirm your optics. Far to many folks just start trying to swag a hit and then get applauded by idiots if they get lucky. In opinion that only leads to wounded animals, which brings me to my story. I was hunting now a bunch of years ago. I shot and the critter humped and made it into brush, probably 25yds of movement, where I couldn't see him. I waited a bit to let him expire and slowly moved up on him. I found him laying down, but with his head up looking at me, and I could see blood where he was when I shot and between him and me. I decided to put a round into his head to finish him, the grass/brush was tall enough I couldn't see the body, as I didn't like the fact he was laying there wounded. I proceeded to miss a number of shots, which were well within my capability. I knew something was wrong, but I was focused on putting him down, and I didn't have any other options I could think of, but to keep shooting. Eventually he got up and took off, I tracked him for a ways, but we lost the blood trail in the dark. The next morning I came back and tracked him further, but then lost the trail. I don't know what happened to him. To this day that messes with my head. Turns out my scope got off somehow on the flight down. My impact had moved vertically about 4-5". Best I can figure is that the round went between his spine and lungs, and the impact stunned him. I took a couple of things away from that, since then I haven't hunted without irons on my gun. I can't use them as well as I once could, but I am not going to be stuck in a situation where I have a wounded animal again and no way to place accurate shots. I knew my shots weren't going true, but without back up irons it was a matter of holding and trying to figure out where I was hitting. Now if I know my optic is off I plan on switching to irons. The other thing is to test my equipment as often as possible. There was absolutely no reason I couldn't have confirmed zero before starting the hunt. I know that it can be a pain in some places, but I still try and do it as close to the hunt and hunting area as possible. I also tend to pound on my hunting setups pretty dang hard, stump shooting to see if I can't make something come loose. Not abuse, but just lots of field time under simulated hunting conditions. For me it is no different then breaking in a pair of boots or working out my pack setup.
As far as irons only vs an optic, every study done I am aware of has demonstrated that optics on a rifle help you hit more accurately quicker. There is the added benefit that magnified optics help you see better. Including into brush and shadows, which helps you aim more accurately. I have very few rifles, one come to think of it, that don't have an rds or scope on it. They all also have irons. I am not sure I would set out to hunt iron sights only. Even with some of the nice new ones there are still a lot of variables in the field that impact their utility. I don't care what you can do on a range with irons, or an optic for that matter, the proof is what you can do with them in the field. My recommendation is that before you decide to hunt with iron sights only you test them in the field. You don't even have to shoot just take them out and get a bunch of sight pictures under different lighting and circumstances, and be honest with yourself, "are you willing to pull the trigger on an living animal under those conditions?". If the answer is no then you have you answer.
As far as the Skinner peeps, I have the barrel mounted peeps on one rifle and I am a fan they work very well. I am not a huge fan of the ones located on the action as I find them aesthetically unpleasing and I also don't see the reason for the full length mounting, which just adds bulk and weight in my opinion. I used a Williams on my BLR Scout if memory serves, and it worked well.
Co-Owner Hill People Gear
"If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston