Af­ter a slow start to the har­vest, Deano finds him­self with sev­eral foxes to take care of, and finds Pul­sar’s new en­try-level, hand-held ther­mal im­ager is more than up to the job

Sporting Shooter - - Contents -

In my last ar­ti­cle, I men­tioned that it was very slow at the start of har­vest; af­ter get­ting quite a few vix­ens in the spring, the cubs just weren’t around as in pre­vi­ous years. How­ever, once all the crops had been cut it was a dif­fer­ent story. We went out lamp­ing and spot­ted five, al­though I only man­aged to get one of them. The other four were next to our bound­ary and jumpy as hell. One of them I have seen a few times – you can flash his eyes at 300 yards away and he is off like a shot. He must have trained the oth­ers! It was just one of those nights… two were right next to cover and just popped back in, and the other wasn’t safe.

Even though they were near the bound­ary, it’s still right in the main area of the shoot, with maize cover strips for them to hide in and wait for the par­tridges to be re­leased – so it’s the last place we want any foxes. So, with the knowl­edge gained from the evening’s lamp­ing, it was time to turn to tech­nol­ogy and sit up and wait. Turn­ing up the heat With a new ther­mal spot­ter from Thomas Jacks that I was itch­ing to demo, it was per­fect tim­ing. The spot­ter I’m test­ing is the new, more af­ford­able im­ager by Pul­sar: the Quan­tum Lite XQ30V. My full night vi­sion (NV) set-up is low end as far as cost is con­cerned, but with good field­craft and knowl­edge you can get re­ally good re­sults. I use a .243 with the Winch­ester 58gr VarmintX round – I have found these bang on for foxes.

The scope is a Pho­ton XT 6.5x50 with a Sneaky­beam In­fra Red gun light on top, which ex­tends my shoot­ing range al­though it does vary ac­cord­ing to moon­light.

But get­ting back to the spot­ter, I have used a friend’s Pul­sar XD38S be­fore so I had some­thing to com­pare it with. As we all know, you do get what you pay for, but I was look­ing for­ward to giv­ing the new bud­get one a whirl.

The first few evenings I went out with it were very warm, but the spot­ter still worked well. How­ever, when the air tem­per­a­ture cooled down, it was clear how much sharper the im­age was. I found it very easy to im­me­di­ately tell the dif­fer­ence be­tween rab­bit, hare, deer and, of course, the fox, al­though I have used a spot­ter be­fore so I knew what to look for. I do rec­om­mend that when you first get one you keep check­ing and check­ing un­til you guess right ev­ery time, even when you are used to it. If you are in any doubt it only takes sec­onds to check … and you don’t want a small fox to go by you be­cause you were sure it was a hare.

As for the Pul­sar Quan­tum Lite XQ30V’s per­for­mance, I found it spot on. Pul­sar claims that the spot­ter can de­tect an an­i­mal’s body heat at up to 900m and I have cer­tainly spot­ted large heat souces at re­ally long ranges; I would then want to get closer to make a pos­i­tive ID. That said, I can in­stantly tell what the heat source is up to about

140m – and with deer you can tell much fur­ther out. Hav­ing said that, I watched a doe come out with two kids one night, then about 10 min­utes later I saw what looked like a fox ap­pear. Here we go, I thought, but when I checked with the scope on my ri­fle, I re­alised it was a very small kid that had come out on its own.

Spot­ter in ac­tion

The first night I sat up af­ter see­ing those five foxes was a day later. I was next to a cover strip on the top of a val­ley with a stub­ble field and a cover strip on the other side.

I still had a good 45 min­utes un­til dark but straight away I could see the rab­bits and hares with the spot­ter. Now, I have been a hunter for most of my life and you get tuned in to spot­ting things oth­ers don’t see, but when you pan the area with your bi­nos and then with a spot­ter… wow, what a dif­fer­ence! You spot deer, hares you wouldn’t oth­er­wise no­tice – it makes me won­der how much has slipped by me over the years.

Once the dark closed in I be­gan to get im­pa­tient. I have found that most foxes come out about 20 min­utes af­ter dark, but that said, I have waited for over two hours and then shot them.

It was not long af­ter dark when out came the shape I wanted to see. I could tell straight away it was a fox at about 130 yards, but that’s be­cause of the prac­tice I have had; you just get bet­ter at it the more you use it (as with most things in life). For me, it’s not just about its size but more about the way the shape moves along.

That was the first one of the four I had seen and down it went. It was a young vixen. I had shot a roe buck three days be­fore that and had brought the butchered car­cass with me to lay out as bait, so I picked up my fox and put the deer out in the field. I left it quiet for an evening and re­turned the fol­low­ing day.

I ar­rived about the same time and soon it was pitch black (time just flies when you’re watch­ing na­ture). It had been dark for about 20 min­utes, and I was pan­ning all over the field, when I spot­ted a shape in the dis­tance worth check­ing. Sure enough it was a fox mak­ing his way across the field, but at a fair dis­tance.

I turned on the scope and IR and got it in my sights. I let out a lit­tle squeak… it looked round to­wards me and shot off the other way. Damn! I kept it in my sights and just as it was get­ting hard to see and at the limit of my scope it stopped and of­fered me a broad­side shot, which I took. The bul­let flew through the air un­til I heard the pleas­ing ‘thud’. But in the ex­cite­ment I had lost the mark of where he was when I shot him. I had been able to see the oth­ers ly­ing dead when I checked with the spot­ter, but not this one, at least not from where I was. I drove across the field a good way then looked again with the spot­ter. This time I found him and went and picked him up. He was a cracker, a big dog fox. I reck­oned he must be the one that never stands – even in the dark one lit­tle squeak and he was off. I have sat up a few times for him, but never seen him so I was so pleased to fi­nally get him. Re­turn­ing to the spot­ter, I know some peo­ple are against them and I can re­spect their opin­ion if they are shoot­ing deer and foxes purely for sport, with no shoot or live­stock to pro­tect. In those in­stances, yes, I see why, af­ter all stalk­ing is a sport: spot­ting your quarry then us­ing your field­craft to place your­self into a po­si­tion to take a shot. But for me it’s more than sport – I have a job to do and I have to get them shot, and I’m happy to use what­ever tech­nol­ogy is avail­able to help me. So I will def­i­nitely be treat­ing my­self to a Pul­sar Quan­tum Lite XQ30V, which has brought this tech­nol­ogy into the realms of af­ford­abil­ity with­out com­pro­mis­ing on per­for­mance.

‘With a spot­ter, you see crea­tures you wouldn’t oth­er­wise no­tice. It makes me won­der how much has slipped by me over the years’

As dusk brings the foxes out from cover, you may need to change from bi­nos to a ther­mal spot­ter

Af­ter pick­ing up a heat source with the spot­ter, Deano con­firms the ID through his scope

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