The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Hide > The Hunt

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old October 22, 2022, 10:39 PM   #1
reynolds357
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 10, 2012
Posts: 6,122
Thermal optics for deer hunting?

Any of you, where legal, use thermal optics (rifle scope to be more precise) to hunt whitetails? On a bad weather day, in deep woods, you can hunt 10 to 20 minutes past "dark" and still be in legal hours.
Is it ethical?
reynolds357 is offline  
Old October 23, 2022, 01:26 PM   #2
44 AMP
Staff
 
Join Date: March 11, 2006
Location: Upper US
Posts: 26,554
A) not legal where I live.

B) ethical perhaps, for FINDING a live body, but inadequate for identifying enough to ethically shoot.

My experience is that under ideal conditions, you get a animal/human shaped blob, and movement, thick cover, or any other less than ideal conditions, you get a blob in your sight.

Can you id the blob to BE SURE its a deer, not a pig, a cow, a dog, or a person?? Does that thermal sight let you see its a buck, and not a doe?? I never found a thermal sight that precise.

So, thumbs down on the use of thermal image sights for hunting, even if it is legal, which, in many places, its not.
__________________
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
44 AMP is offline  
Old October 23, 2022, 02:14 PM   #3
taylorce1
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 18, 2005
Location: On the Santa Fe Trail
Posts: 7,872
I don't know anywhere it's legal to "hunt past dark" for deer in the lower 48. Most regulations I've read have been 30 min before sunrise and 30 min after sunset. That isn't past dark by any stretch.

To add to 44 AMP's post, good thermal scopes are not cheap. If you want to identify animals correcly, you're not going to want to use bottom rung thermal optics in inclimate conditions. Also thermal rifle scopes are a highly specialized for night hunting. Will they work during daylight, sure but not as well as in full dark situations.

To me it's a lot of money to spend for a highly specialized equipment for less than 1% of the hunting situations I'll find myself in. So in this case the benifits don't outweigh costs. I don't know legality everywhere, but I bet most thermal optics have a processor in them and that makes them illegal for hunting big game in Colorado where I live.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CO Big Game brochure
NOTE: SMART RIFLES are prohibited, including any firearm equipped with a target tracking system, electronically controlled, assisted or computer-linked trigger or a ballistics computer. Any firearm equipped with a scope containing a computer processor is considered to be a smart rifle.
__________________
NRA Life Member
taylorce1 is offline  
Old October 23, 2022, 05:32 PM   #4
Hawg
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 8, 2007
Location: Mississippi
Posts: 15,981
I never needed one before. I don't need one now. They're not legal here anyway.
Hawg is offline  
Old October 23, 2022, 06:50 PM   #5
reynolds357
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 10, 2012
Posts: 6,122
Quote:
Originally Posted by 44 AMP View Post
A) not legal where I live.

B) ethical perhaps, for FINDING a live body, but inadequate for identifying enough to ethically shoot.

My experience is that under ideal conditions, you get a animal/human shaped blob, and movement, thick cover, or any other less than ideal conditions, you get a blob in your sight.

Can you id the blob to BE SURE its a deer, not a pig, a cow, a dog, or a person?? Does that thermal sight let you see its a buck, and not a doe?? I never found a thermal sight that precise.

So, thumbs down on the use of thermal image sights for hunting, even if it is legal, which, in many places, its not.
We use them all the time for hogs and yotes. Can tell a hog from a yote from a cow from a fox from a coon.can tell a buck from doe. Can count the points on the rack to 400 yds ideal and 250 poor conditions.
Ga has an odd law. Night vision is illegal for deer hunting, but Case law says thermal is not night vision.
reynolds357 is offline  
Old October 23, 2022, 06:52 PM   #6
reynolds357
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 10, 2012
Posts: 6,122
Quote:
Originally Posted by taylorce1 View Post
I don't know anywhere it's legal to "hunt past dark" for deer in the lower 48. Most regulations I've read have been 30 min before sunrise and 30 min after sunset. That isn't past dark by any stretch.

To add to 44 AMP's post, good thermal scopes are not cheap. If you want to identify animals correcly, you're not going to want to use bottom rung thermal optics in inclimate conditions. Also thermal rifle scopes are a highly specialized for night hunting. Will they work during daylight, sure but not as well as in full dark situations.

To me it's a lot of money to spend for a highly specialized equipment for less than 1% of the hunting situations I'll find myself in. So in this case the benifits don't outweigh costs. I don't know legality everywhere, but I bet most thermal optics have a processor in them and that makes them illegal for hunting big game in Colorado where I live.
The legal hours are past the hours you can see deer at any distance. On an ideal day in open fields, at legal hunting ending time, all I can see is silhouettes out to about 50 yds. In the heavy woods, shooting light is gone 20 min plus before end of legal hours. Thermals detect those bucks standing 10 feet in the woods just waiting for dark to come out in the food plot.

Last edited by reynolds357; October 23, 2022 at 07:02 PM.
reynolds357 is offline  
Old October 23, 2022, 06:54 PM   #7
reynolds357
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 10, 2012
Posts: 6,122
I thought they were illegal here until I asked a game warden who begrudgingly said they were not illegal.
reynolds357 is offline  
Old October 23, 2022, 08:17 PM   #8
taylorce1
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 18, 2005
Location: On the Santa Fe Trail
Posts: 7,872
If they're legal, let us know how it works for you. Seems like you have the legality portion worked out. I agree about Thermal sights being good enough to distinguish game. The ones I've been behind outside of the military have all been more than I'm willing to spend for my limited use.
__________________
NRA Life Member
taylorce1 is offline  
Old October 24, 2022, 08:57 AM   #9
Double Naught Spy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 8, 2001
Location: Forestburg, Montague Cnty, TX
Posts: 12,635
I have known several people to take deer with a thermally sighted rifle. It is legal here in Texas, so long as you shoot during legal hunting hours.

HOWEVER, most of the deer hunters that I know that use thermal, just handheld spotters for the purpose of locating live deer before hunting in the morning (no need to hike through the middle of bedded deer in your pasture if you can walk around them on the way to the stand), or use them to locate downed deer, usually, but not always after dark.

Quote:
Can you id the blob to BE SURE its a deer, not a pig, a cow, a dog, or a person?? Does that thermal sight let you see its a buck, and not a doe?? I never found a thermal sight that precise.
I take it that you haven't spent time with quality thermal recently. I have never mis-shot a hog thinking it was a deer, cow, dog, or person. The same rules apply when using thermal as apply when using daylight optics, night optics, or no optics. You still have to ID the target before you pull the trigger (if you want to be certain of your kill).

Whether or not you can ID buck from doe will depend on the environmentals. Antlers are not vascularized AFTER the velvet comes off and so while you can count points readily when they are in velvet, it can be difficult to do so when they lose the velvet (loss of heat supply), particularly if it is high humidity, misty, rainy, etc. However, that is mostly after dark. At times, the antler can become virtually invisible, much like the wires and t-post on a barbed wire fence in misty conditions. Of course, this is when you are approaching thermal gray-out where everything in the environment no generating heat is based homogenized to the same temperature by the moisture and lack of thermal radiance from sunshine.

In the day time during hunting hours, on a good, sunny day, with a decent thermal, you can count points certainly within typical hunting distances.

Now reynolds, you asked if it was ethical. Well, that is between you and your hunting partner. The law defines the rules and ethics you are legally obligated to follow (and yes, we put laws in place to maintain ethical standards and several states point this out in their descriptions of their game laws). Those are the only ethics you have to maintain. Beyond that, it is up to you. What you consider ethical versus what I consider ethical (in this case, I think it is fine), and what anyone else considers ethical may not overlap on this issue and that is fine, so long as you obey the law.

Ideally, people will scan for animals NOT using a rifle scope, but using a handheld. This isn't so much ethics or legality, but just safety.

Here is a little thermal handheld I have been testing, though this isn't my video. I have a couple of hunt videos out with it, but the focus is not on distinguishing species or features, but identification of hogs at distance (primarily). Anyway, this guy does a pretty good job showing what the little thermal can see. This is a small thermal, similar to a FLIR Scout like I had years ago, same resolution (384x288) which is not high end, better thermal sensitivity (able to detect more subtle changes in thermal), but has a tiny 19mm lens.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mk1vsjiK_r0

Here is where I use the same optic and discuss the issue of observation versus recognition versus identification...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bq39PaPO6hs
__________________
"If you look through your scope and see your shoe, aim higher." -- said to me by my 11 year old daughter before going out for hogs 8/13/2011
My Hunting Videos https://www.youtube.com/user/HornHillRange
Double Naught Spy is offline  
Old October 24, 2022, 10:01 AM   #10
Pahoo
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 16, 2006
Location: IOWA
Posts: 8,659
If I could, I would not !!!

Quote:
Any of you, where legal, use thermal optics (rifle scope to be more precise) to hunt whitetails?
Do you know of a state that allows for this? I doubt that there is one but for sure, by my measure, it's unethical. I liken this to spot-lighting. .....

Be Ethical as well and;
Be Safe !!!
__________________
'Fundamental truths' are easy to recognize because they are verified daily through simple observation and thus, require no testing.

Last edited by Pahoo; October 27, 2022 at 12:55 PM.
Pahoo is offline  
Old October 24, 2022, 03:01 PM   #11
Double Naught Spy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 8, 2001
Location: Forestburg, Montague Cnty, TX
Posts: 12,635
Why is it unethical or like spotlighting if you are hunting in the day time?
__________________
"If you look through your scope and see your shoe, aim higher." -- said to me by my 11 year old daughter before going out for hogs 8/13/2011
My Hunting Videos https://www.youtube.com/user/HornHillRange
Double Naught Spy is offline  
Old October 24, 2022, 07:27 PM   #12
reynolds357
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 10, 2012
Posts: 6,122
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pahoo View Post
Do you know of a state that allows for this? I doubt that there is one but for sure, by my measure, it's unethical. I liken this to spot-lighting. .....

Be Ethical as well as;
Be Safe !!!
Georgia. "Night vision" is illegal for deer hunting, but courts defined Thermal imaging as not being night vision.
reynolds357 is offline  
Old October 24, 2022, 08:45 PM   #13
Double Naught Spy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 8, 2001
Location: Forestburg, Montague Cnty, TX
Posts: 12,635
Well, and as noted, Texas allows for it just fine so long as it is during normal hunting hours.
__________________
"If you look through your scope and see your shoe, aim higher." -- said to me by my 11 year old daughter before going out for hogs 8/13/2011
My Hunting Videos https://www.youtube.com/user/HornHillRange
Double Naught Spy is offline  
Old October 26, 2022, 08:45 AM   #14
buck460XVR
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 28, 2006
Posts: 4,330
Quote:
Originally Posted by Double Naught Spy View Post
Why is it unethical or like spotlighting if you are hunting in the day time?
I think the thing here is ethics with a legal parameter. Laser sights are not legal here for hunting. Why? Because of the ease of how they can be used after legal hunting hours. I see the same with Thermals. 90% of folks will stay within the parameter of legal hunting hours. It's that other 10 % that most hunting regulations are made for.
buck460XVR is offline  
Old October 26, 2022, 12:50 PM   #15
MarkCO
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 21, 1998
Location: Colorado, USA
Posts: 3,809
While it is illegal to use lasers, and to hunt big game at night. The use of thermals to hunt big game during the day is actually legal in most states. If it is cold enough, they work well during the day. As their price comes down and their use increases, I suspect more and more states are going to outlaw them unilaterally. Same thing has happened with drones.
__________________
Good Shooting, MarkCO
www.CarbonArms.us
MarkCO is offline  
Old October 26, 2022, 09:42 PM   #16
Double Naught Spy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 8, 2001
Location: Forestburg, Montague Cnty, TX
Posts: 12,635
Quote:
As their price comes down and their use increases, I suspect more and more states are going to outlaw them unilaterally.
I don't see this happening in hog infested states.
__________________
"If you look through your scope and see your shoe, aim higher." -- said to me by my 11 year old daughter before going out for hogs 8/13/2011
My Hunting Videos https://www.youtube.com/user/HornHillRange
Double Naught Spy is offline  
Old October 26, 2022, 11:19 PM   #17
Pathfinder45
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 7, 2008
Posts: 3,185
I feel like the increasing availability of ever advancing technologies puts the notion of fair chase in jeopardy. Sure, feral hogs and Varmint control may perhaps be legitimate as in anything goes. But I think that big game should be protected from excessive use of technology. Also there's the thing about unequal access; stacking the odds in favor of those who can afford the most and latest tech. Night-vision, fish-finders, trail-cams, drones, etc., it just doesn't stop. Go big or go home, right? Wrong. How much more advantage do you think you should have?
Pathfinder45 is offline  
Old October 27, 2022, 09:18 AM   #18
taylorce1
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 18, 2005
Location: On the Santa Fe Trail
Posts: 7,872
Quote:
Originally Posted by Double Naught Spy
I don't see this happening in hog infested states.
They could easily be made illegal for big game hunting even in those states. They don't have to be illegal for hogs and other vermin.
__________________
NRA Life Member
taylorce1 is offline  
Old October 27, 2022, 09:31 AM   #19
Double Naught Spy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 8, 2001
Location: Forestburg, Montague Cnty, TX
Posts: 12,635
Quote:
How much more advantage do you think you should have?
Right. We already have too much and we use tactics that are completely unfair as well. There are so many people in this country that can't afford hunting in general. They use gear so powerful that they can kill animals at distances well beyond the ability of most human hunters to see well enough with the unaided eye and we have been doing that for over 100 years. Funny what technology we are more than comfortable with using to exploit animals and we do it in the name of being able to make kills that are more ethical, not less ethical.

As for stacking the odds, in many parts of the country, lots of people don't have access or can't afford hunting in general. We should probably subsidize them.

I had a guy making the same argument to me last year about being able to afford technology from behind the wheel of his $18k UTV. He can't afford thermal, but he can afford an UTV, LOL. Of course, he didn't think that being able to drive in several miles on his UTV was any sort of unfair advantage to have access to game over those of us that don't have UTVs. We should probably make it a law that you aren't allowed to kill the animal if you can't hike yourself in and then pack it out without vehicular conveyances.

It is only an unfair advantage if you are the one who doesn't have something, right?

As defined by the Boone and Crockett Club, is the ethical, sportsmanlike, and lawful pursuit and taking of any free-ranging wild game animal in a manner that does not give the hunter an improper or unfair advantage over the game animals. I personally don't see where using a daylight scoped rifle is nothing but unfair chase to the animals involved. We have people shooting deer from distances that the deer don't even know that people are there or that they are so far away, the deer has no reason to believe they are unsafe from the hunters because there is nothing in a deer's evolutionary makeup for it to be able to comprehend a 2800 fps tiny little projectile in flight any more than humans in the 1500s understood bacteria. There is literally nothing a deer can do to avoid, or protect itself from an incoming bullet.

Fair chase went out the window a long time ago from the animal's perspective. We rationalize it as being better for the animals, all these unfair advantages we have, but is it really?

You are right. The animals should be protected from too much technology if you want to talk about fair chase, and that would include bows, rifles, optics etc. You are right that all hunters should have equal access to the same technology but since we aren't going to be giving needy hunters stimulus packages so that they can buy comparable gear to have access to and to kill animals, we should lower the standards to more communistic levels. Anything less would actually be hypocritical, right?
__________________
"If you look through your scope and see your shoe, aim higher." -- said to me by my 11 year old daughter before going out for hogs 8/13/2011
My Hunting Videos https://www.youtube.com/user/HornHillRange
Double Naught Spy is offline  
Old October 27, 2022, 11:36 AM   #20
jackstrawIII
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 20, 2016
Location: Upstate NY.
Posts: 863
Quote:
We use them all the time for hogs and yotes. Can tell a hog from a yote from a cow from a fox from a coon.can tell a buck from doe. Can count the points on the rack to 400 yds ideal and 250 poor conditions.
Ga has an odd law. Night vision is illegal for deer hunting, but Case law says thermal is not night vision.
Sounds like you answered your own questions.
- Effective: yes
- Legal for you: yes

Then go for it. I have no problem with it "ethically". The goal is to fill your tags. That's best for the hunter and best for the deer herds. Win/win. Sounds like these thermal optics will help you do that, so do it.

I think we over-romanticize hunting these days. The truth is, humans need to kill a certain number of deer in order for the herds to be healthy and strong. Deer also taste good and their heads look great on a wall. If you can kill deer with a spear in a loincloth, go for it... the rest of do better with a gun, optics, cover scent, decoys, etc. Why would you NOT use the best tech you can legally use?
__________________
In God we trust.
jackstrawIII is offline  
Old October 27, 2022, 01:16 PM   #21
Hawg
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 8, 2007
Location: Mississippi
Posts: 15,981
Are y'all really that bad at hunting to want to use thermal?
Hawg is offline  
Old October 28, 2022, 08:05 AM   #22
jackstrawIII
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 20, 2016
Location: Upstate NY.
Posts: 863
Quote:
Are y'all really that bad at hunting to want to use thermal?
This question is flawed. Just because you don’t want to use thermal, don’t assume that anyone who does is inferior to you.

An archery-only hunter could say, “Are y’all really that bad at hunting that you want to use a gun?”
A longbow purist could say, “Are y’all really that bad at hunting that you want to use a compound bow?”
Someone who only shoots bucks could say, “Are y’all really that bad at hunting that you want to shoot does?”

It’s all nonsense. Is anyone who does things differently than you really inferior to you?

Ps. I’ve never used thermal. If I could, would I? I have no idea. But please let’s not condescend people just because they do things differently.
__________________
In God we trust.
jackstrawIII is offline  
Old October 28, 2022, 10:43 AM   #23
Pahoo
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 16, 2006
Location: IOWA
Posts: 8,659
Poachers are not "Hunters"

Quote:
It’s all nonsense. Is anyone who does things differently than you really inferior to you?
That is not the point as it really comes down to Hunter Ethics. There are written laws and then there are one's Personal Hunting code. I do question someones hunter ethics, for the most part, they are poachers. I have personal experience for in my younger years, If it ran, flew or swam, it was fair game. Today, there are times when I don't adhere to the DNR laws, Like not being allowed to dispatch a Road-Hit deer. ....

Be Ethical and;
Be Safe !!!!
__________________
'Fundamental truths' are easy to recognize because they are verified daily through simple observation and thus, require no testing.
Pahoo is offline  
Old October 28, 2022, 12:44 PM   #24
MarkCO
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 21, 1998
Location: Colorado, USA
Posts: 3,809
Quote:
Ps. I’ve never used thermal. If I could, would I? I have no idea. But please let’s not condescend people just because they do things differently.
Bravo. The "gun", "2A", "Hunting" communities are often our own worst enemies. I have a code of ethics for hunting that is consistent with the law, but more in line with my personal ethics and the Constitution.

I've shot game animals that were wounded, without a license, then called the game warden and told them the story. What I did was technically illegal, but moral. The game warden agreed.

I've called the game warden on absolute poachers/slob hunters as well.

But if it is legal, even if I don't like it personally, okay. Not going to go after any of those things in an open forum at all.
__________________
Good Shooting, MarkCO
www.CarbonArms.us
MarkCO is offline  
Old October 28, 2022, 01:27 PM   #25
Nodak1858
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 7, 2009
Location: N. Dakota
Posts: 417
Not sure if they are or are not legal in ND, but honesty I'd be too cheap to buy one. A good 3x9 scope is usually more than enough, assuming I point the rifle correctly
__________________
We've all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters will eventually reproduce the entire works of Shakespeare. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true.
Nodak1858 is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 03:48 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2023, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2021 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Page generated in 0.13560 seconds with 8 queries