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Hunting in the dark

SEPTEMBER 2021

More and more hunters are turning to nighttime hunting, either in a high seat or stalking. This type of hunting is challenging in multiple ways and requires not only training but also the right equipment.

There is a vast and growing population of crop-raiding wildlife– mainly wild boars - worldwide. On top of that, it is becoming increasingly important to control the numbers of invasive predator species - like raccoons and raccoon dogs in Europe. This situation has created a need for night-hunting equipment, enabling us to hunt these nocturnal animals more efficiently.

However, the human ability to see in low light is inferior when compared to most of the animals we hunt. Until a few decades ago, our only option to hunt at night was to use high-end traditional optics on nights with sufficient moonlight to identify our targets. It is challenging to hunt in the moonlight. The window of opportunity is merely a few nights a month, depending on the moon phase and cloud cover.

That has changed dramatically in recent years thanks to modern night-vision technology. One of the brands leading this technical revolution is Pulsar.

“The very first glimpses you get of nature at night through a modern night vision device is a revelation. It is comparable to seeing life underwater through scuba diving goggles for the first time.”

Up until the early 1990s, night vision technology was reserved for the military. Since then, the development of night vision equipment for hunters has developed at lightning speed.

// BLACK MAGIC //

Night vision technology is so advanced that it almost seems magical. Night becomes day at the push of a button. The very first glimpses you get of nature at night through a modern night vision device is a revelation. It is comparable to seeing life underwater through scuba diving goggles for the first time. Human beings are not naturally able to experience the view of neither fish nor creatures of the night. And yet, our ability to improve our senses with modern technology has overcome these obstacles. Seeing in the dark is merely one of the latest improvements of our inferior human senses.

Unlike most of the equipment we use on our hunt, the history behind night vision devices is condensed and very recent. The first steps towards modern night vision technology were taken during The Second World War by various military developers in Germany, Great Britain, Russia, and the USA.

For about half a century, the technology was more or less exclusively used by military and law enforcement agencies. It was not until the early 1990s that night vision became broadly available to hunters. Since then, things have developed at lightning speed. Pulsar is at the forefront of night vision technology for hunters. The company has held that position since the introduction of the brand in 1998.

Night vision equipment has gone through several technological phases in a short time. The first useable civilian models were based on electronic image intensifier tubes of military origin. Now the predominant technology is based on light-sensitive digital sensors and works as a digital video camera. Both these technologies benefit from the use of external IR lamps to illuminate what you are looking at. In later years so-called thermal units have become more and more popular. These devices detect IR radiation (heat) and transmit that to the eye of the observer.

A key feature of many night vision scopes is that you can film the shot, as you take it. That gives you a much better idea of where you hit the animal. In addition, thermal devices can be used to follow a fresh blood trail in the dark.

// IMPROVING THE HUNT //

During the main European hunting season in our fall and winter months, it is dark most of the time. Therefore, modern night vision devices almost double the time we can spend in our hunting areas looking for wild boars. When hunting at night, the most significant challenges are detecting the game, identifying the individual animals to hunt, and placing the shot accurately. Pulsar’s equipment makes these tasks much more straightforward and safer, allowing the night hunter to focus on the hunt.

Digital night vision gives the user an image as if you were using a powerful lamp on a conventional day scope – but without any visible light to disturb the game. It is even possible to see through a little bit of undergrowth, rain, and fog with thermal imaging. Piglets following a leading sow in high grass can easily be identified. This prevents a lot of mistakes in the field.

The units also simplify finding the game you shoot at as you can film the shot, which gives an unmistakable idea of where you hit the animal. Furthermore, the hunter can use the thermal device to follow a fresh (warm) blood trail in the dark. All these features make night hunting safer, more ethical, and enjoyable.

Why more enjoyable? Because you will never again be staring into the darkness, unaware of what is happening. You become an active hunter rather than a person merely waiting for a boar to walk into the available light. And – on top of that – you will learn a lot about your quarry through simple observation.

During the main European hunting season in our fall and winter months, it is dark most of the time. Therefore, modern night vision devices almost double the time we can spend in our hunting areas looking for wild boars. When hunting at night, the most significant challenges are detecting the game, identifying the individual animals to hunt, and placing the shot accurately. Pulsar’s equipment makes these tasks much more straightforward and safer, allowing the night hunter to focus on the hunt.

Digital night vision gives the user an image as if you were using a powerful lamp on a conventional day scope – but without any visible light to disturb the game. It is even possible to see through a little bit of undergrowth, rain, and fog with thermal imaging. Piglets following a leading sow in high grass can easily be identified. This prevents a lot of mistakes in the field.

The units also simplify finding the game you shoot at as you can film the shot, which gives an unmistakable idea of where you hit the animal. Furthermore, the hunter can use the thermal device to follow a fresh (warm) blood trail in the dark. All these features make night hunting safer, more ethical, and enjoyable.

Why more enjoyable? Because you will never again be staring into the darkness, unaware of what is happening. You become an active hunter rather than a person merely waiting for a boar to walk into the available light. And – on top of that – you will learn a lot about your quarry through simple observation.

// OPTIMIZED FOR HUNTING //

The latest Pulsar models offer the user advanced image enhancement, which improves the details of the image.  You can easily access the size and shape of horns, judge the sex of an animal with confidence and see branches and twigs in the bullet path.

Until very recently, the best night vision rifle sights all looked a bit like spare parts for nuclear powerplants. However, the latest models look more like traditional hunting scopes. They can be mounted on the rifle with standard ring mounts. These products are becoming more and more adapted to hunting.

However, due to the extreme pace of product evolution, various makers have much night vision equipment on the market. The difference in performance, price, quality, and service is

enormous. Pulsar is, without a doubt, the leading high-end brand on the market. Their top-shelve products are usually a generation or two ahead of mid-range competitors – a fact that becomes very clear when using the products in the field. The difference in image quality between current top models and the technology developed ten years ago is astonishing.

Thanks to innovative companies like Pulsar, progress in the field of practical night vision equipment for hunters will not stop here. It is just getting started! The products will become even more advanced and more accessible in terms of price. Keep an eye on Pulsar – they are spearheading the technical revolution that already opened the night for passionate hunters. Who (besides the engineers at Pulsar) knows what the future will bring?

//  Photos: Pulsar  //

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