Thermal Hunting: What’s All the Buzz?

Thermal hunting is a great way to extend your season and operate more effectively.

by posted on March 15, 2022
Bachman Night Hunting

In recent years thermal hunting at night has generated a lot of interest, and for good reason! As hunters we love anything that extends our season and makes us more effective. Thermal hunting does both. For those who have a day job and can’t get out coyote hunting during daylight hours, thermal hunting offers the chance to get out for a few hours when the sun sets. This also provides an advantage in highly pressured areas, as coyotes are not accustomed to being hunted at night. They let their guard down a bit more and the darkness helps to conceal your outline.

Hunting predators and destructive species is an incredibly important part of conservation, particularly for residents in the south who suffer from major hog overpopulation. One night hunt can equate to hours and hours of daytime hunting. More and more states are allowing thermal hunting, and if you live in a state where it’s legal, now is the time to get started. Although thermal hunting equipment is still relatively expensive, prices continue to fall while quality continues to improve. There are even websites such as Ultimate Night Vision that offer thermal rentals. This is a great way to test gear before deciding if thermal hunting is for you. My guess is you’ll be hooked in no time, but it’s always nice to try before you buy.

Of course, thermal optics are great for hunting, but they can also be helpful in a variety of other situations. I have an iRay Rico mounted to my Winchester Coyote Light, but I also have a handheld thermal unit that I use to investigate noises heard outside my house at night. Nothing with a pulse can hide in the dark from thermal optics. If your pet has gone astray, you can often locate it with a thermal. If it’s legal in your area, a thermal can detect a wounded animal. You could even use a handheld thermal to assist during search and rescue for a person missing in the wilderness. If the thermal unit on your firearm is the only one you have, it can be removed for handheld use.

In the area of South Dakota where I live, coyotes are pretty thick, and more and more places across the United States are seeing the effects of large coyote numbers. They are ruthless killers and take a toll on deer, fawns, pets and other animals. For the sake of my two little pups, Pork Chop and Ribeye, I want coyotes thinned out around my home. I built an 8’ fence to keep my dogs as safe as possible, but coyotes are effective predators so keeping them in check is a top priority.

Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve enjoyed predator hunting during the winter months. My dad used to take my brother and me out and pull us in the sled as he went after foxes and coyotes. Now I’m lucky to continue that love of hunting with my husband and our own kid. Most people feel stuck inside for the winter months, and having a reason and the tools to go out hunting helps you get fresh air and keeps you motivated.

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