My first foray into thermal night hunting was supposed to help, and I think it's working.
The time between the end of turkey or spring bear season and the first elk bugle of the fall can feel like a lifetime. I just like being in the woods, if I could do it every day I probably would.
But I can't. So when I do make it, hunting is usually the type of thing I'm wanting to do. Scouting and land prep can only scratch so many itches. I feel like hunting is really the only way I'm going to fill my wilderness cup.
So naturally, it's been hogs, and there's luckily a lot of 'em.
Here in Texas, we're basically under siege by the rooting, stinking, disease-ridden feral hogs. Every day acreage gets destroyed, turkey nests get raided, and fawns or even pets are harassed, if not killed, by hogs. Like most hunters down here, I turned to semi-automatic rifles to help take care of the issue on my lease in West Texas. But I knew I needed to take one more step to make the most out of it.
I needed to start using thermal imaging.
It was the new FLIR PTS233 ThermoSight Pro that broke me through the threshold, and I'm really glad it was.
I ran this scope on my custom AR I've started to call "The Hog Hammer." It's a 7.62x39 platform built by The Heart of Texas Armory in Bryan, Texas. I'm proud of it, and mounting the PTS233 didn't only make it look a hell of a lot cooler, but it got me super excited, more so than with any hog hunt in the past.
I used a box blind, and was instantly pleased with the difference in daytime and nighttime temperatures. Anyone who's spent time in Texas knows any part of the state can start boiling during the summer, and getting to hunt after dark made things a lot cooler, literally.
During this time of year all kinds of animals choose to go nocturnal due to the intensity of the heat, and pigs are no exception.
The FLIR PTS233 didn't just do its job at night, but helped me find my target at lightning speeds. When I was in "Outdoor Alert" mode, the animals basically lit up the screen. It almost seemed too easy to pick things out. The adjustable contrast allowed me to roll through the ranch and scan multiple areas quickly, trying to pick out anything lurking in the shadows.
These deer were easy to identify.
Adapting to Thermal Technology
I'll admit, getting use to the new use of thermal scopes has taken a little time and effort. It's not immediately inherent. The difference between looking into a screen versus through magnifying lenses was something which caught me off guard, or at least more than I anticipated.
In retrospect, there wasn't much I had to change; I still needed to align the crosshairs on the target and pull the trigger. It was more a matter of training my eye to become comfortable with the contrasted image I was peering at.
I loved the fact that you could pick out almost every observable object, not just large hogs. While we were riding through the land in pitch darkness on side-by-side, I was able to see a jackrabbit about 100 yards away, giving me a good sense of the scope's overall range.
I could watch the trees fill up with heat during the day, and even observe the warm power lines overhead. A piece of equipment like this really shouldn't have taken so long to find its place atop The Hog Hammer.
It's just too easy to use. I mean, when you see a big orange pig runs into the screen's view, you'll get what I'm talking about!
I'm being serious when I say that thermal hunting made hogs 10 times more fun. I knew I needed to find something to curb my off-season need for the woods, and this is going to really help maintain the dosage.
It was almost comical; I was either chuckling quietly to myself or literally laughing out loud each time I was able to point out any animal with a heat signature.
Basically, there's no good reason not to start hunting hogs at night, as long as your local wildlife agency allows it.
Heck, Texas doesn't even require a license to hunt hogs anymore. Granted, there are some hoops to jump through to get your hands on a thermal scope, but as long as you've kept clean from the law you've got nothing to worry about except a little waiting.
Now that I've addressed the yearning to get out and hunt in a more comfortable and strategic way, I'm a full-on believer and dedicated thermal scope user.