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#3227507 - 01/10/20 09:48 AM Need advice on getting into thermal/night vision
SouthTXBowhunter Offline
Seasoned Member

Registered: 04/13/09
Posts: 222
Loc: South Texas
I'm a very experienced predator hunter but I'm ready to step up my game at night and I'm kinda lost when it comes to thermal and NV, despite all the reading I've done. I can see some advantages to either technology depending, in part, on the conditions and terrain. So, I'm looking for advice on what will work best for where I do most of my hunting - South Texas. Down here we're known as "the brush country" and that's no lie - its thick and nasty. That's great for producing dense populations but it makes hunting challenging and most shots are not very far. 50% are inside 60yds. 75% are inside 100yds, 90% are inside 150yds and 99.9% are inside 250yds. One of the biggest challenges is animals sneaking in and being right on top of you before you ever see them - especially at night. They have so much cover to use and, as you know, they have to be looking at you to catch eyes at night. This means a lot of animals (mainly coyotes) figure out what's 'up' and all you see is a flash of eyes as they dart across a single lane ranch road as they're making their exit. We do far better on bobcats and grey fox at night than coyotes and I'd like to change that. Since we're usually pretty arid around here and because of all the brush, I'm leaning towards thermal - at least for scanning. My thought is that the thermal might help me at least identify that I have an animal sneaking in, where NV might be less effective. Even from a truck rack where I night be able to see out 50-70 yds, there will be lots of low and sparse brush that can make an animal difficult to pick out; and while NV would certainly be helpful, without those glowing eyes, I can see where a slinking coyote could be more easily missed than a heat signature. Am I correct in these assumptions? Given my conditions, would you choose thermal of NV for a dedicated scanning device?

Next question is weapon sights... I had a guy point out, recently, that with thermal its often hard to tell if there's some little brush in front of the animal; and that he'd hit brush rather than the animal on the other side, so he preferred NV. Is this true or is he full of you know what? Given my hunting terrain and distances, would you recommend thermal or NV for a rifle scope....and why?

Would you recommend going ALL thermal, all NV or a combination? I've considered something like a thermal monocular for scanning and a NV scope for shooting; but I can find justifications for all sorts of scenarios. Haha!

Question on magnification.... I had a chance to look through some thermal units for the first time the other day - a Pulsar Axion Key XM22, FLIR Scout III 320, FLIR PTS233 and the FLIR PTS536 and the first thing I noticed is that anything within about 30yds takes up a big part (if not most) of the screen on 4 power. Even on 2 power I was kind of shocked by the lack of field of view. It got me to thinking that it'd be hard(er) to locate and shoot close animals with some of those units. The FLIR PTS233 seemed like it'd be more useful at 100yds than the PTS536, for example. Now, this was inside a store and I could only look at 90yds max, but that was my impression. If I'm not worried about shooting past 250yds and will have MOST of my shooting inside 150yds, would I be better off with something that has a base magnification of 2x than 4x? OR, is there another factor/spec I need to consider? My biggest concern is that I'm shopping for things I can't lay my hands on and can't look through myself. I've never spent this kind of money on something I don't have the ability to check out personally and it's freaking me out a bit. Anyone know if there's a good dealer of these items in/around San Antonio, TX? I checked these units out at a Cabelas but they know less about them than I do, lol. So, that's not a good option. If there's anyone in this area that has some good gear I could check out and want's to come hunting - to give me a chance to check out how it actually works in the field - PM me and I'll have you out for a night of calling.

I have a budget of around $5k to get started but I do believe in getting quality. So, would I be better off getting a REALLY good device for scanning and then switching to my usual flashlight once I have something located; then buying a scope down the road, after I built my budget back up? I DO NOT like scanning with a rifle. My boss bought a NV scope about 8 years ago and I tried it on 2 sets and gave it back to him. It's just too heavy and awkward to scan like that, imo. So, if I can only get one item, it sure seems like something to scan with would have the biggest positive effect on my success rate at night. What are your feelings on this?

Sorry for so many questions but I needed answers from guys who actually hunt, rather than guys who want to play "operator" or some end-times scenario. Lol!
_________________________
Sabinal, TX

God Bless our troops - ESPECIALLY our snipers!!!

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#3227530 - 01/10/20 11:07 AM Re: Need advice on getting into thermal/night vision [Re: SouthTXBowhunter]
old cat Offline
Die Hard Member II

Registered: 03/16/14
Posts: 1084
Loc: wv
Nothing beats thermal. I have killed lots of coyotes in the brush out to 300 yards, you could not even see with NV I have both. I would get a good thermal scope & scanner. you won't be sorry. There will be a guy, KIRSCH who will be probably answer your post & point you to some videos he has taken. GOOD LUCK. GO THERMAL.

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#3227539 - 01/10/20 11:57 AM Re: Need advice on getting into thermal/night vision [Re: SouthTXBowhunter]
varminter .223 Online
Die Hard Member III

Registered: 03/01/10
Posts: 2490
Loc: south central Illinois
We've been doing this for 4 seasons. In your situation big field of view rules and thermal for scanning is it must. The fact that you need big field of view is pretty much going to dictate that you need 640 core for scanning or find a used pulsar xd19a or hd19a . The reason I say you need 640 core is because in the 384 stuff they Band-Aid the lesser resolution with the more magnification which always lessen field of view.
If I were you I would be looking very closely at the Thermion xp38 for shooting. For scanning the helion xp28 would have been a very good option for you but it's discontinued and now the xp38 has the next biggest field of view. The hogster r 25 mm might even work well as a scanner but I think it would be just a little less magnification than what you need for your shooting your longer shots.
The hogster r 35 mm would also be a pretty good option and cheaper for gun mounted Optics and would free up a little more for scanning Optics but has no on-board recording and in my opinion needs the add-on battery pack since cr123 are not something I want to deal with.
The third option would be to shoot with night vision and put some money into a good 640 handheld such as the helion xp 28 or 38.
As far as the flir stuff I've never used it.
The thermion xp38 / 640 helion combo would probably put you closer to 7000 bucks and the hogster r 35 mm / 640 helion combo closer to 5600 bucks.
Night vision and 640 core helion would be closer to 3600 to 4000 depending on which digital night vision.
My advice and the advice of almost everyone here who is addicted to this game will tell you to buy once and cry once I don't know anyone that has regretted it.

I will stress once again how crucial big fov will be to you!

The nice thing about starting with digital night vision is that it is cheap enough you can sell it to upgrade to thermal and only lose a couple hundred bucks worst case scenario. I think what most guys do is end up upgrading to Thermal and keeping their digital night vision for a loner or backup.

In my opinion 2x or less base mag like the xp thermion or trail have is way plenty. The Glorious thing about the pulsar and the hogster r they have picture in picture.
Pip is a huge deal!

One would be hard-pressed to find another sport where the buy once cry once policy hope so true.


Edited by varminter .223 (01/10/20 12:22 PM)

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#3227554 - 01/10/20 01:31 PM Re: Need advice on getting into thermal/night vision [Re: SouthTXBowhunter]
6mm06 Online
PM senior

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 8004
Loc: USA

SouthTX, my experience with thermal is limited to looking through a Pulsar HD19a scanner and an Apex XQ38 rifle scope, both now discontinued. I have the XQ38 and the first thing I realized when I first went calling with it was the need for a little more field of view. Even on the 2.2x base magnification, there are places in the woods and small clearings where I needed more. At 40 yards in close quarters, the fov is too tight if you have to scan much. If an animalís line of approach is predictible (which we know it isnít) then it would work OK. Out in the hay field it was not bad, and I have been able to shoot small targets like possums and skunks easily at 60 yards with magnification set at 2.2x. So, as Varminter mentioned, field of view will be important to you, given the area you hunt, so consider that with any purchase you make. You may actually do quite well with a base mag of less than 2x.

Before making the purchase of the XQ38, I had considered the XQ50 that has more magnification, maybe 2.8x or something like that. DoubleUp uses that one in the wide open expanses where he hunts, and with great success. At the time my thinking was that 2.2x of the XQ38 is not much magnification, based on my experience with traditional daytime rifle scopes. After some thinking, I made the decision to go with the XQ38 and in hindsight, I am so glad I did. I could easily use a base mag here of 1.5 or similar, and it sounds like your area / close quarter hunting is somewhat similar to mine.

Good luck with your choice. Looking forward to hearing how it works for you.

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#3227559 - 01/10/20 01:51 PM Re: Need advice on getting into thermal/night vision [Re: SouthTXBowhunter]
varminter .223 Online
Die Hard Member III

Registered: 03/01/10
Posts: 2490
Loc: south central Illinois
In my previous post I should have also included the thermion xp50 as a viable option but with your what I would consider very short range shooting I think I would opt for the extra field of view of the xp38. I just thought I should add that in there. Despite what my wife may tell you buying to little thermal is way worse than buying too much! Too little isnt practical enough to work well. About 20 minutes on stand with quality thermal and you will know that you made the right choice by stepping up.


Edited by varminter .223 (01/10/20 01:55 PM)

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#3227584 - 01/10/20 04:52 PM Re: Need advice on getting into thermal/night vision [Re: varminter .223]
old cat Offline
Die Hard Member II

Registered: 03/16/14
Posts: 1084
Loc: wv
If the brush is thick you won't find targets with NV. You can buy Hogster 25mm or 35mm use one on the gun & one to scan. I do not need a 5000 dollar scanner, but I do need a 5000 dollar scope. JMO


Edited by old cat (01/10/20 04:59 PM)

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#3227587 - 01/10/20 05:11 PM Re: Need advice on getting into thermal/night vision [Re: SouthTXBowhunter]
Kirsch Online
Die Hard Member II

Registered: 10/13/09
Posts: 1408
Loc: North Dakota
Originally Posted By: SouthTXBowhunter
Am I correct in these assumptions? Given my conditions, would you choose thermal of NV for a dedicated scanning device?
Thermal pretty much always wins as a scanner. About the only time this does not apply is when a person is scanning from inside a vehicle and needs to see through glass.

Originally Posted By: SouthTXBowhunter
Given my hunting terrain and distances, would you recommend thermal or NV for a rifle scope....and why?[/b]
I would still say thermal for 2 reasons. First, many NV scopes have even more base mag than thermal with the exception of clip-ons. The second reason is you didn't say anything about not being able to shoot fox. If you have to be 100% sure the animal is not a large fox vs a small coyote, then NV might be a great option.

Originally Posted By: SouthTXBowhunter
I have a budget of around $5k to get started.
This is a lot of money, but thermal does take a lot.

I have owned a Flir PTS233 and 536. The 536 is a hands-down better optic but not great for what you describe as close quarter "brush country". The 4x mag of the 536 is too much magnification for the environment you described. The PTS233 will be OK as long as you don't have much humidity. If you get above 80% at nights, you will struggle.

Varminter233 and 6mm06 both had great posts with lots of information. I would recommend a Bering Optics Hogster-R 25mm most likely. Honestly, in your terrain, it could be the scanner or scope. The run $2145. For the ranges you are talking about, it will serve you well.

Scanner: Hogster-25mm Gun: Hogster-35mm or 25mm. You really could use a 25mm for both, and save some money as the 35mm is $500 higher

Here is a comparison on FOV:
Hogster 25mm 14.5 x 11.2 ($2,145)
Flir PTS 233 12 x 9.5 ($2,199)
Hogster 35mm 10.7 x 8 ($2,645)
Helion XP38 16.3 x 12.3 ($3,799)
Thermion XP38 16.3 x 12.3 ($4,499) Scope option only

The Hogsters will have a better image (in my opinion) in comparison to the 233, but the Flir PTS233, records. If recording is key, you could go with the Hogster 25mm for the scanner and the Flir PTS233 for the scope as well. You are still within your budget.

You can go to a 640 scanner such as a Helion XP28(discontinued I believe) or XP38. You gain a little clarity in image and a little more FOV. My hunting partner who has used both extensively, says it doesn't justify the $1,500+ price difference from the 25mm or the $1K+ of the 35mm. I would tend to agree, but I love the Pulsar Helion XP38.



_________________________
Korey Kirschenmann
Night Goggles - Pro Staff

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#3227588 - 01/10/20 05:16 PM Re: Need advice on getting into thermal/night vision [Re: SouthTXBowhunter]
varminter .223 Online
Die Hard Member III

Registered: 03/01/10
Posts: 2490
Loc: south central Illinois
Kirsch I've done some looking and and haven't had much luck finding what the hogster has for warranty which as we know is kind of a big deal in this game. These hogsters have me really intrigued. It sounds like there are a lot of scope for the money. For people who are wanting to get in as cheap as they can with quality thermal and who might be hunting with a buddy who is already scanning or has a spare scanner this might be an option that's awful hard to beat given the trail xq38 is now discontinued and when you have to buy the range finder model it gets pricey again.


Edited by varminter .223 (01/10/20 05:37 PM)

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#3227593 - 01/10/20 06:12 PM Re: Need advice on getting into thermal/night vision [Re: SouthTXBowhunter]
Vance Offline
Seasoned Member

Registered: 12/30/03
Posts: 284
Loc: Southern Utah
I understand that the Hogster comes with a 4 year warranty now!

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#3227605 - 01/10/20 07:21 PM Re: Need advice on getting into thermal/night vision [Re: SouthTXBowhunter]
weekender Offline
Die Hard Member III

Registered: 01/01/13
Posts: 3747
Loc: NC
I have thermal for a scanner and NV for a scope. NV sux in brush. You have to use an IR light with the lower end NV and you get white out bad in thick brush. You also get white out from the smoke of the shot with NV similar to shooting a muzzle loader in the daytime. Quick follow up shots are not easy and next to impossible if there is very little wind to clear the smoke. Go thermal for both scanner and scope in the terrain you described.


Edited by weekender (01/10/20 07:24 PM)

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#3227608 - 01/10/20 07:33 PM Re: Need advice on getting into thermal/night vision [Re: Vance]
Kirsch Online
Die Hard Member II

Registered: 10/13/09
Posts: 1408
Loc: North Dakota
Originally Posted By: Vance
I understand that the Hogster comes with a 4 year warranty now!
yes it does.

Weekender Really nailed it as far as additional cons of night vision.
_________________________
Korey Kirschenmann
Night Goggles - Pro Staff

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#3227685 - 01/11/20 02:55 PM Re: Need advice on getting into thermal/night vision [Re: SouthTXBowhunter]
doggit Online
Seasoned Member

Registered: 12/17/07
Posts: 173
Loc: TX
Sent you a pm

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#3227701 - 01/11/20 05:01 PM Re: Need advice on getting into thermal/night vision [Re: SouthTXBowhunter]
willy1947 Offline
Die Hard Member III

Registered: 11/20/11
Posts: 3099
Loc: Ohio, Ohio
_________________________
Writing in this blog is like guessing, the color of a pig in a poke. You are wrong a lot more than you are right.
"No one plans to fail; we only fail to plan!"
NRA Life Member

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#3227717 - 01/11/20 07:52 PM Re: Need advice on getting into thermal/night vision [Re: varminter .223]
Kirsch Online
Die Hard Member II

Registered: 10/13/09
Posts: 1408
Loc: North Dakota
Originally Posted By: varminter .223
Kirsch I've done some looking and and haven't had much luck finding what the hogster has for warranty which as we know is kind of a big deal in this game.
Their website has always indicated a 2 year warranty. However, the director of Bering Optics has indicated they will be moving the Hogster to a 4 year warranty. It will be announced at Shot Show but will apply to users who purchased before Shot Show also.
_________________________
Korey Kirschenmann
Night Goggles - Pro Staff

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#3227735 - 01/11/20 09:16 PM Re: Need advice on getting into thermal/night vision [Re: SouthTXBowhunter]
6mm06 Online
PM senior

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 8004
Loc: USA

Kirsch, I canít remember, does the Hogster 25mm have an external jack for attaching a dvr?

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