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Thread: Thermal Imaging for use in Stalking

  1. #1

    Thermal Imaging for use in Stalking

    I dont know if anyone read the recent article in Sporting Rifle in regard to using thermal imaging cameras in deer management. I wonder if anyone had any views on the use of these devices in deer stalking. I am a relative novice to stalking and my first thought was that this kind of technology would make things too easy and therefore potentially damage the experience and skills that are gained from doing things the proper way. However on further thought I feel that rather than damage the experience it could in fact enhance it given that the technology would allow you to use your time much more effectively and not waste time in high seats, hides and laid up waiting for the deer that never comes. If the technology works and you can in fact more easily locate deer you might still get to pick up the traditional skills as you would potentially still need to stalk into the deer? Does anyone have any strong opinions or thoughts on this ?

    If anyone would like to read the article I can send a link to it

  2. #2
    I can understand how you came to the thinking that it would save time by not having to sitting in high seat what have you, but think of everything your missing out on?!? The other wildlife, the serenity, the peace and quiet! Not to mention the required patence which will weed out some of the people who arn't best suited to the sport.

    If you are talking about using thermal imagine then are you on about stalking at night time?

    Anyway the use of NV etc is illegal on deer, I don't think this includes spoting devices though but I await correction.

    Anyway stalking is far more than putting the cross hairs on a deer and pulling the trigger, it's about getting out there in the thick off it.

    I can see no place for a thermal imagining tool in the average stalkers tool box, contractors maybe.

  3. #3
    I dont disagree with anything you have said. It is all about being out there in the thick of it - many times I have been out and not seen deer but enjoyed the experience just as much (well, almost) as coming home with something !

    ........I was curious to see is anyone thinks there is value in it. Also, my understanding is that you can use these binocular thermal cameras in daylight too but I stand to be corrected if that is wrong ? - and of course I have no idea how effective they might be in daylight.

  4. #4
    They can be used in daylight hrs..its image intensifiers ie Nightvision that is only used for night.

  5. #5
    SD Regular Mr. Gain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aliS View Post
    If you are talking about using thermal imagine then are you on about stalking at night time?
    Not at all. Thermal devices don't care if it's day or night: they simply show up anything that's warmer than the background. so you'll see bright white deer, foxes, rabbits, squirrels, mice and birds against a greyscale landscape. No need to strain to detect movement or differences in colour or texture. You can also see through foliage for a good distance and pick up residual warmth where deer have been bedded.

    I absolutely agree that the unpredictability of stalking using traditional methods lies at the heart of its magic, and that the development of a patient temperament has a value all of its own, but I also wonder whether the sense that thermal imaging threatens these isn't just the 21st century version of the distaste for binoculars or riflescopes once expressed by our fathers or grandfathers.

    In addition, if we feel that our relationship with the deer on our ground is one of management -indeed, if our very access to that ground is based on this notion-, and that meeting our cull targets is in the interests of the deer, the landlord and the stalker alike, perhaps we should be more ready to accept a device that makes these targets more attainable?

  6. #6
    I'm lucky in having access to a rather nice FLIR imaging system and decided to try it one evening to see if it would be useful for a deer count. The plan was to wait until well after dark when everything on the ground would be pretty cold and the deer should stand out well.

    The experience was that a good lamp used to detect deer eyes reflecting the light back worked much better than the thermal imaging system and allowed a much larger area to be covered more quickly.

    I shot a deer and we did agree that the thermal imaging would be very good for helping finding shot deer, even after the deer was dead over an hour and gralloched it still stood out well at quite a reasonable distance.

    Clearly my experiences are not the same as "stalking" or shooting with thermal imaging but the view was that the application for a thermal imaging system in deer management was very limited. When it comes to using it while stalking I wouldn't be keen on having to carry something else and also the display doesn't do wonders for night vision so when it came to last light not only would it be a pain to swap between thermal, binos and scope but it might impair your vision through the scope and I don't think it would give you enough advantage over the binos, under normal legal circumstances, to be really worthwhile to help spot deer.

  7. #7
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    I've spent a fair amount of time playing with some top-notch thermal imaging systems and whilst they would be a useful aid for carrying out population counts they would be no more than that, an aid. Generally you can see 20-25m into a standard FC coniferous woodland, at best, but a deer behind a decent sized tree is still invisible. Similiarly thick foliage can mask a thermal signature, as will the usual folds in the ground etc. Unfortunately, thermal doesn't work like it does in films and let you see how many people there are behind the wall! You certainly couldn't scan a Scottish Glen with a hand held thermal device and spot every deer.

    If you wanted to know exactly how many deer were in a piece of land, a network of thermal security cameras would probably be the most effective way, but it would be prohibitively expensive!

  8. #8
    SD Regular Mr. Gain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by caorach View Post
    The experience was that a good lamp used to detect deer eyes reflecting the light back worked much better than the thermal imaging system and allowed a much larger area to be covered more quickly.
    I'm a bit surprised by this, as I've found -using a Guide IR518C- that it's easier with the thermal.

    Quote Originally Posted by caorach View Post
    I shot a deer and we did agree that the thermal imaging would be very good for helping finding shot deer, even after the deer was dead over an hour and gralloched it still stood out well at quite a reasonable distance.
    I've also found this useful.

    Quote Originally Posted by caorach View Post
    When it comes to using it while stalking I wouldn't be keen on having to carry something else and also the display doesn't do wonders for night vision so when it came to last light not only would it be a pain to swap between thermal, binos and scope but it might impair your vision through the scope and I don't think it would give you enough advantage over the binos, under normal legal circumstances, to be really worthwhile to help spot deer.
    Fair points. In reply, I think the decision we make to carry any piece of kit is literally weighed against its usefulness. Personally, I've found the thermal to be worth it's weight/bulk, neither of which is very great. As for the impact of the thermal on your night vision, this isn't such a problem if you dim the screen, but in any case I wouldn't advise anyone to take a shot at a deer at last light, and certainly not more than an hour after sunset. It may be worth repeating here that the thermal camera is as much use by day as it is by night: if you scan the wood whenever you stop and before moving again while still hunting, and at regular intervals or when the presence of an unseen deer is suspected when using a high seat, it can enable you to detect a deer you would otherwise have missed or to detect earlier one that would eventually have come into plain sight - in which case you can avoid making any careless movements that might spook it and be ready to take a shot when the opportunity arises.

    63,

    I take your points about the limitations of any hand-held device for counting deer in difficult terrain, but surely you'll be able to count more of them if you add thermal scanning to your other methods?

  9. #9
    There are scopes and then there are scopes! Same with Thermal imagers, some good, some not so good, and some have to be seen to be believed.

    I used one not so long ago that was good to about 1k and could clearly see deer at that distance,I used one quite a while ago that was good to 5k, this one was cumbersome and heavy and came with its own refrigeration system.

    We used the the smaller one to count deer,it had a recording facility so could be analysed at a later date.
    As a tool to the stalker not really relevant, but as a tool for a contractor then invaluable, but at 40k out of most peoples pockets.

    regards
    Now

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by news of the world View Post

    As a tool to the stalker not really relevant, but as a tool for a contractor then invaluable, but at 40k out of most peoples pockets.
    That was pretty much my take on the FLIR, it was about 7k I think. The cost-benefit analysis just didn't add up to a win for it and I think even contractors might be pushed to justify it in all but very specific circumstances. Yes it might spot the occasional deer the lamp doesn't but unless you had a very specific task for it the sums just didn't add up.

    Even if they could produce one the size of a laser range finder for 200 I'm still not sure it would represent good value to the recreational stalker shooting under normal, legal, circumstances. Nice gadget to play with but of very limited real benefit.

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