View Full Version : What's the "best and brightest" flashlight for hunting?

October 26, 2007, 01:08 PM
I'm looking for a compact, bright bulb flashlight for entering the woods before first light or searching for deer in the dark. Anyone found such a flashlight?

October 26, 2007, 01:51 PM
Yes. Yes I have...


A bright light like this is great for
-blood tracking
-finding your way from lost to unlost, trying to get back to camp.

If you know where you're going (not lost), you don't want a light this bright in most circumstances - it could alert the game to your presence - you want just enough light to be able to get to your destination and set up. I bought the Bear Cub mainly for getting un-lost and blood tracking. I used it for just exactly that situation 3 weeks ago. I had a miner's headlamp type green light but got lost on my way TO the hunting spot early AM - whipped out the bear cub for illuminating - took the chance of scaring off game - wouldn't do me any good to even be in the woods if I couldn't get to my spot, so it was worth the tradeoff.

October 26, 2007, 02:05 PM
searching for deer in the dark

Don't get caught "searching" for deer in the dark with a firearm. You don't need a bright flashlight for finding your way in the dark. A 5-15 lumen light will provide enough light to navigate. A green or red filter might help prevent spooking game.

October 26, 2007, 03:09 PM
As FF said, the best "Bright Lights" on the market are custom built lights.
You can either resort to paying for one or building your own.
Paying for one will cost more than just pocket change.
Building your own, using a flashlight body you already have, is relatively cheap.

You must have some knowledge of electronics before you go frying LEDs.
Those LED bulbs are 10 bucks each on average, after shipping.

The other advantage to building your own is the variety of lights you can make.
A buddy of mine has a light that is able to swap LEDs at a whim.
This comes in handy for if he wants to use a green light LED, red, or white.

The green is still 3W and very bright, but animals seem to not understand what it is when they see it.
It's so bright that to them its probably just an odd bright "grey" spot.
Some animals have walked toward it to see what it is. Others have just ignored it after a few seconds.
Although they can't see color, I recon to them it's the same as florescent is to us.
Something they almost never see, and seems to blend into surroundings if its a small dot.


I have a 6W Dorcy we sell that I'm converting to drive a new CREE.
Gonna cost me 22 bucks to more than double its light output.

Oh, and if you use it for hunting, be SURE and refrain from looking at the light source.
It will leave a blind spot on your eye for far longer than you want it.

October 26, 2007, 06:34 PM
I use a surefire. It is very bright, small, and lightweight. I am impressed with the no focus solid beam of light because it puts out no dim spots or circles where the beam lands. I used to use a mini mag and that is fine but not nearly as nice as the surefire.

October 26, 2007, 06:50 PM

WilddontgetanybetterAlaska ™

The Tourist
October 26, 2007, 08:23 PM
No doubt about it, SureFire.

I use their 6P model with the P-61 bulb, the one with the purple band.

I buy batteries by the 12-pack, and I plan ahead. If I just want light, I'll also carry the KL3 replacement LED head.

But I also carry a few spare batteries...

Edit: I usually have it with me. You can see it hiding behind my favorite latte' cup...


October 27, 2007, 01:02 AM
i use a Brinkman LED head lamp. i bought it at Wally World a couple years ago and love it. it's brighter than most lights i've seen.

October 27, 2007, 01:35 AM
Hi, my name is RR and I am a flashlight junkie...........

OK i've got a lot of flashlights and usually carry more than one hunting.

My favorites:

1) Panthervision clip on LED's on the bill of my cap: Hands free navigation that is just enough light to see (and to be seen by other hunters!) without spooking game or being accused of spotlighting.

2) Gerber Carnivore: I keep this one in my pack. Has a nice bright bulb for searching for a downed deer out ahead of you, but has a nice set of red/blue combo LED's that make blood jump up off the ground like it's 3D. It is all it is cracked up to be in my experience.

3) I keep any of several surefires in my truck.

October 27, 2007, 04:02 AM
the problem i have with Surefire's is they EAT batteries like they're going out of style. the Brinkman head lamp i have is still on the same batteries it came with 3 years ago when i bought it. granted i only use this light to walk to my treestand in the morning and to walk from it at night. for a regular light i keep a 5 d cell Maglight in my truck.

October 27, 2007, 04:21 AM
We have used various headlights while hunting gators and have found that the LED lights work the best. They put off a somewhat different light than incandecent bulbs and the eyes of the gators glow better.

Found the same to be true while going to and from treestand. Trail markers glow WAY further out there.

Spent a lot of time before this gator season looking for a VERY BRIGHT red led to try in our headlights. Did not find such.....yet.

Replacing existing bulbs with the drop in LEDs works fairly well but you need to do some research as to the models and brands as it is our experence that some will exhibit a hole in the light while othere will create a even beam.

I'd love to have someone who knows how to build me a couple of red led headlights, maybe 3 W if possible, to try on the gators but I lack the knowledge to do it myself.

Art Eatman
October 27, 2007, 10:31 AM
I've not had occasion to be around any of these new-generation flashlights, at least not to be able to learn about the different options.

I've always used either the old two-cell or a Mini Maglite around the house or at camp. For coyote hunting and just looking for eyes, I've always been happy with the way my Streamlight SL-20 will light up eyes at 300 or 400 yards.

Do any of these new small-size lights reach out that far?


October 27, 2007, 11:29 AM
Do any of these new small-size lights reach out that far?

The D-Mini from Luma, and several Fenix lights will reach awfully close. Rebel, Cree and Soul LEDs are pretty amazing. Some of the Fenix lights will fit in the fifth pocket of your blue jeans and carry near 200 lumens. A bigger head will have more throw, so for spot light purposes size isn't always better (but it's still incredibly small).


I still don't like super lights for anything other than tracking wounded game. Even then the incan has a better color spectum for my tastes.

October 27, 2007, 11:42 AM
I use a small headlamp for getting gear together before I climb a tree. I also use it when Im walking out of the thick woods, but otherwise during bow season I try to use a light as little as possible.

If you want a bright light that lasts forever a coon hunting wheat light is hard to beat. Its the best thing i know of for trailing deer. Mine will last for 12 hours on low side, and its brighter than any mag light while on low side. Turn it to high side and its as bright as one of those hand held spotlights.

there are allot of different models, and they are kind of expensive. I paid about $150 for mine, but I use it about 3 nights a week so its worth it. I believe its the best light for blood trailing a deer hands down.


The Tourist
October 27, 2007, 11:43 AM
Surefire's is they EAT batteries like they're going out of style.

In perspective, what part of our sport doesn't?

A few years ago I saw a box of cartridges for a .416 Rigby that went for 100 bucks. That's 5 dollars per pop. I wonder what they go for now, 10 bucks maybe?

I went to price a Ford F-350 Super Duty, and it was the price of my first house.

My jackknife costs 425 dollars.

Is my AR-15 really worth 2,500 dollars?

Is a Starbuck's latte' worth the 5 dollar tariff? (I think so, yum!)

When I buy 123A batteries from Surefire, I buy on-line for their box of 12 per pack. And I'm thinking about buying the 72 pack. Heck, the shelf life is 10 years, and everyone in my family has a SureFire, I have two.

Art Eatman
October 27, 2007, 10:45 PM
Does anybody know how to compare lumens and candlepower?

:), Art

October 27, 2007, 11:18 PM
Candlepower isn't used as a true measure in industry any longer.
It wasn't, and isn't, an accurate measure of light intensity.
Any company's light source, listing candlepower, is using it as a generic reference, to sell its lights.

Here, read wikipedia's out-take on light measures...

Notice in the formula chart, that a lumen and candela are two different measures.
Its kinda like comparing volume(size) with mass(weight) of differing objects.
Light of differing wavelengths will have differing values/ratios, respectively.

In laymans terms....
Its kinda like compareing mass and volume of lead to the mass and volume of balsa wood.
Lumens vs. Candelas of light will be different for white light compared to blue light.

Art Eatman
October 28, 2007, 10:04 AM
I did the Wikipedia thing, but they don't talk about what I'm interested in. I know what my 20,000 candlepower Streamlight will do; I like it. I wouldn't want to spend equivalent money for something with lesser performance.

IOW, if it won't light up a critter at a couple of hundred yards, I might as well be using an El Cheapo 2-cell.


October 28, 2007, 10:26 AM
Whatever light you use, make sure it doesn't have THESE batteries in it!


October 28, 2007, 12:03 PM
I'd love to have someone who knows how to build me a couple of red led headlights, maybe 3 W if possible, to try on the gators but I lack the knowledge to do it myself.

Go to your local bunny huggin hiking store like REI or EMS...they have them

WildihaveablackdiamondAlaska TM

The Tourist
October 28, 2007, 12:06 PM
Wouldn't a red filter over an existing LED flashlight accomplish the same thing?

Does a filter "change" the emitted beam like a magnifying glass, or does it simply redefine the color?

October 28, 2007, 12:11 PM
We've used red filters over regular beams but the heat captured is serious. Actually melted the housing on a couple of hand held spotlights. Have not tried a red filter on any of my 1 wat white LEDs but I am betting, based on how the filter worked on the standard spotlight, that the output would be reduced to the point that it would be useless.

Will try what Wild.......... suggests..........give that a look.

The Man
October 28, 2007, 07:03 PM
The Surefire A Great,But Batteries.For The Other Way Are The Rechargeable Mag-Lite,These Are A Little Big,Compared With Surefire,Streamlite And Other,But The Battery Stick Last A Long Time And You Can Buy Another For Some Dollars.

October 28, 2007, 07:59 PM
I hear ya Art...
What I meant was to get the same candela out put of a light depends on what wavelength you want to use.
A green or red light will need more lumens to reach the same or similar candelas of your white spotlight.

As far as filters, don't use them unless you have no resort.
Adding a filter doesn't change the lightwave output of a bulb.
It literally absorbs all lightwaves but the one it lets thru.
So, a pure red lense will absorb all light of all other wavelengths/colors.
That is why the lense gets hot, and eventualy melts.
It has to do something with the energy it is absorbing. It stores it as heat.

So, the question of filters working well, just depends on how much of that specific wavelength light the original bulb was putting out.
If it doesn't generate much red light, it won't shine very far or bright.
And you will melt the lense.
Same with green or blue.

If shopping for LEDs, the best brightness they can come up with, vs power expended, is "cool white".
Blue isn't very good, red gets a bit better, Cyan is good, and green is very good.
Something to do with the chemical makeup of the LEDs.
A good reference is the LUXEON Rebel...
Just click "expand all" in the "Products" table.


The human eye has trouble with blue light.
That is the reason why the "Royal Blue' is rated not in lumens but power output.

October 28, 2007, 11:05 PM
Every other cop and game warden in the states and me and every power plant operator in the states use a streamlight stinger.

I like it and it likes showing me the blood trail.
Just my 2 Cents.

October 29, 2007, 11:20 PM
Streamlight would get my vote - get one with thr green/blue LEDs and a flashlight combo - rechargeable too. As far as tracking a wounded/downed deer a good old Coleman lantern works best. Seems to put out a yellow light which makes the blood stand out better - and if you are tracking 3 hours, no battery worries. Also keeps you warm in Dec- Jan. :D

October 31, 2007, 03:29 PM
I am still using an old AA Maglite but recently added one of those LED conversion bulbs. Not the most modern, but it sure does work.

November 1, 2007, 01:06 AM
This should work for close range.


Not too sure about the quality though.


November 1, 2007, 06:06 AM
in my opinion as an avid hunter, a hunting light must be hands free, bright and good on batteries. 95% of the lights mentioned above are only 1 of the 3 necessary qualities a good hunting light must have. high dollar stream lights and such are good tactical lights but have no place in my hunting gear, imo.

November 1, 2007, 07:11 AM
As a cop I have three different brands of "working" flashlights that I might take deer searching. My primary is the Scorpion, small light that is good and bright, I also have two stingers and one Pelican M6. All three are very bright, rugged, and compact. The scorpion is my favorite deer light because it is smaller and the others, Pelican is on the duty belt, one Stinger in my Tac vest and the other Stinger is on the night stand. With flashlight as with firearms you get what you pay for. More money, brighter and compact/rugged lights.

Art Eatman
November 1, 2007, 10:33 AM
CamoCop, I grant that I have fairly large hands, but I found long ago that I can hold my Streamlight and the rifle's forearm together, quite easily. Detrimental to Ol' Wily. :)

November 2, 2007, 02:51 AM
i thought this was "best light for hunting"? i dunno about your state but in mine you better not be in the woods with a light and a gun. also i carry a scorpion on my duty belt, it compact and very bright but eat's batteries like you would not believe.

November 2, 2007, 07:56 AM
Thanks for all the suggestions. I looked at a few Surefire, Pelican and others, but found the Streamlight, Strion with a charger fit my needs best.

Art Eatman
November 2, 2007, 09:03 AM
CamoCop, Texas has few restrictions on hunting equipment for nighttime varmint hunting. It's best to make a courtesy call to a deputy or a game warden, just to save hassle if somebody hears shots at night and jumps at the telephone.

For actual hunting with a flashlight, a lesser brightness can be better than the Streamlight or equivalent. Regardless, lighting up a critter's eyes with the edge of the beam disturbs them less, while direct shining with a bright light will or can discourage them.

My common calling procedure is to use a Q-Beam with a red lens cover to pick up eyes at a distance. Then no more Q-Beam. Keep calling, and use the edge of the Streamlight's beam very briefly to just spot where the eyes have moved to. Up close and personal, a regular old D-cell flashlight is plenty for seeing through the scope.

I haven't had a chance to try one, but one of these new-type lights folks have mentioned, with a red lens or whatever, oughta work. Critters are much less bothered by a red light.


November 7, 2007, 02:50 AM
i apologize, i must have read his post wrong. i though he was looking for a light just to get him to and back from his stand and the occaisional blood track. i did not know he was inquiring on actually shooting with the light.