Have you always been amazed with those hunters who successfully hunt with night sights? Well, this is not surprising. After all, isn’t it great to hunt with your night vision equipment to “blast” those wild hogs and coyotes?
Ideal Species for Night Sight Hunting
For starters, you can never hunt regular game species like a deer, a moose, a black bear, or an elk with any kind of a night vision device. All of the provinces in Canada and the states in America have their own set of rules when it comes to the legal hours for shooting. These rules basically don’t allow night hunts using any equipment and that includes the simplest one – a powerful lamp. A night vision equipment can only be used when hunting invasive species like hog or predators that are overpopulated, most specifically coyotes. Basically speaking, you are not allowed too many of both.
Some countries in Europe such as Belarus, Russia, and Poland allow using night scopes for hunting including game animals like roe deer and wild boar. However, there are still limits regarding the use of this particular technology. In Russia, for instance, you are only allowed to use a night scope if you are hunting from elevated stand that is not lower than 2 meters over ground. But what is more important here are other means of limiting harvest.
In Europe, the owner of hunting rights over a particular territory typically gets a quota for game that could be taken on that territory, with the quotas usually including not just a maximum cap but even a minimum number that must be killed to ensure that the animals don’t pose threat to traffic and agriculture. It doesn’t really matter that much what harvest method is used from environmental perspective.
This means that the legal methods hunting using night scopes are sustainable. However, are these ethical or does using night scopes for hunting get too easy that it turns into a slaughter instead of a hunt? In order to answer this particular question, it is recommended to know the technology that makes it possible to go on night sight hunting.
A thermal imaging scope works on a significantly different principle compared to the night vision scopes. All objects have a temperature and radiate heat. A thermal imaging device captures the rays and converts these into an image visible to the human eye.
Hunting gear as thermal scopes offer several advantages such as having a longer range compared to night vision. Their operation doesn’t depend on the amount of light present. This means that thermals don’t really need an additional source of light at cloudy and moonless nights. They also work during daytime and nighttime alike so sighting in them is easier.
However, there are also a few drawbacks associated with thermal scopes. Thermal works based on the concept that every object has a different temperature. It means that thermals may focus on animals standing amidst thick vegetation without showing the vegetation itself. This may look and sound like a benefit until you end up realizing that the vegetation could be thick enough to repel the bullet you will fire. Similarly, the moment the antlers go out of their velvet stage, these no longer get any blood supply, taking on a temperature similar to that of the environment. This means that you will not be able to view them on thermal. If it is necessary to see the antlers for the right trophy identification, you need to keep a night vision device handy.
Night Vision Scopes
As you might already know, there are actually two main kinds of night scopes and these are thermal and night vision. Night vision scopes amplify the light to let you see even in the dark. The lens collects light then sends this to the matrix releasing electrons once exposed to light. There are more electrons when there is also more light. The electrons hit the screen emitting light when and where an electron hits it. The light gets continuously amplified until the image becomes brighter enough to be visible to the human eyes.
There are several problems or limits associated with night vision scopes. In practice, their range is only limited to around 100 yards. You cannot use these scopes in broad daylight since the amount of light hitting the matrix will release excessive electrons and end up destroying itself. It means that you won’t be able to see during daytime using your night scope and you need to schedule a night shooting session for it to be possible. Once fired, the muzzle blast produces light and this will also be amplified that can be blinding for the shooter. The rifle that will be used together with the night scope must be equipped with muzzle blast suppressor.
The technology can work bests in starry and moonlit nights. If it is completely lightless, night vision devices are equally a waste of time as the naked eye. The issue is easily solved with the addition of an extra light source that will send rays in the invisible specter. This means light in wavelength that the human eye doesn’t react to. However, the prey’s eyes are designed in a different way. In practice, coyotes and hogs that were never hunted before with night vision will only ignore infrared lighting. However, they immediately learn to associate this with danger then scatter this in every direction once the light is on.
The Bottom Line
Both thermal and night vision scopes use batteries and those who have already used something powered by electricity out in the field knows all too well that batteries may fail in the most inopportune times. Size also matters and it is better if it is bigger although you have to be ready to pay the price.
At the end of the day, it is important to remember that no type of night vision equipment you can find in the market today can turn night into day. Technology still has its limits and hunting with night sights will never be like day hunting because it will always have its unique set of challenges.