Had an interesting trip to recon one of our aberdeenshire estates this afternoon, using the thermal imager during the day/ late afternoon. First thing noted was we saw a lot more deer, most of them we would never have seen, indeed most took ages to spot with the binnys, even though we knew where they were. At 4 ish they started moving in the forest, and we could clearly see them in the imager, but with binnys they were a battle to find, one buck in particular knew we were in the car, on the roadside but at about 40 meters into the forest just kept feeding and occasionally looking at us. He would move and we would lose him in the glass, and needed to use the thermal to re find him. He was in an open forest, but in reeds and undergrowth, and would not have been shootable in his position, but it was great to be able to spot him, given more season available (sand less commitments in the next week or so) we could have planned a go at him.
We mooched about, waiting in the usual spots but eventually gave up and started back to the barn, to clear the pigeons, our actual plan for the day. As we drove along the road at say 20 mph I spotted a thermal heat signal next to a tree base in the middle of the estate, but even at 40 meters was a devil to see. It was lying down and its head was in line with the tree, and it was so camouflaged, though the thermal could see it easily. We glassed constantly for about 5 minutes till we had it exactly in sight. Once I had it in the binnys I guided my pal Iain onto it, but he just could not see it, even identifying the twin trees I was looking at, I knew it was a buck, its antlers clearly visible, though in line with the tree edge were not very clear in the glass, I could just make them out, and at this point it was still reasonably sunny and bright, we probably had an hour more shooting light. The thermal could also see the antlers a little, perhaps some heat transfer from the head rising up them. It would move its head very slightly and the antlers could be seen moving.
I took Iain’s rifle and head shot it from 40 yards, and it dropped on the spot. When we got to it, it was stone dead, but had a badly broken leg, so perhaps this was why it lay quietly. The lower rear leg had been snapped clear, but showed no infection or healing. I guess it was new. It looked like a snare had had it, but I think it was simply that it had flailed round when moving, giving an indistinct line round the break. I think it was probably a fence hook up from the damage, or possibly an RTC, but this is less likely in the location. We will know more when we peel it!
This is the first deer we have had that was 100 % down to the thermal finding it, and allowing us to shoot it. We would never have seen it in the binnys unless we knew it was there, and as a scanning tool it is superb, it really does exactly what it claims. Without the thermal we would have scanned for deer and driven on.