At last the editor has a thermal monocular in his hands
The editor reviews an incredible thermal monocular from Scott Country
I’ve been itching to try out a thermalimaging viewer properly for a very long time. I’ve seen many of them at shows, but the prices were so high I didn’t believe that airgunners would buy them, but now our friends at Scott Country have the incredible new Pulsar Quantum Lite thermal monocular on sale at just £1199.95. Now, I know many of you will laugh at the word ‘ just’ being used in front of that price, but others will see it as truly amazing value for money. Like all technological devices, prices are coming down and performance is going up at an incredible rate.
I’ve tried lots of ‘affordable’ night-vision kit over the years and to be honest, most of it didn’t work for me because the picture quality was so poor, so I’ve preferred to stick with traditional lamping techniques. The Quantum Lite appeals because it doesn’t try to enhance whatever light is available at night. Instead, it sees the heat that you, me, and every other mammal emits, so it works in any conditions, from daylight to the very darkest night, and any part of our quarry showing behind grass or other vegetation will glow brightly through the eyepiece.
I was extremely happy to see that this model doesn’t have too many set-up options; in fact, I simply put the batteries in and used it in its default mode. The seven colour modes, though, are well worth experimentation to see which suits your eye, and the conditions in which you find yourself hunting. I liked the ‘white hot’ and ‘red hot’ options best.
To get used to it before going hunting, I took it on dog walks where I knew that there would be plenty of rabbits around in daylight. This allowed me to get a feel of how they looked at known distances through the eyepiece. You focus the image with a rotating eyepiece just like you would a rifle scope, until the graphics at the bottom of the screen are sharp. The system defaults to 1.8 mag as you turn it on, and you can select 3.6x and 7.2x as you go. I found the lowest mag’ best because it offered the clearest image.
Just an ear
Just as I’d hoped, I was instantly seeing plenty of rabbits in places where I hadn’t seen them with the naked eye, which is what this technology is all about. A rabbit sitting behind some nettles was given away by a hot ear, and I saw another through the bottom of a hedge. This extra information about how many animals are around allows us to plan our approach much more successfully. It also means that we’re less likely to stumble upon an unseen rabbit and startle it away before we can get a shot.
What I needed next was the chance to get out hunting. With all the rain and warm weather we’d been having, the cereal crops and grass had grown long enough to hide rabbits,
and with full leaf on the trees, my chance of going after squirrels was limited, too.
The night was warm and sticky as I set off around the estate, which was a shame because thermal imagers work on the temperature difference between the background and the animal, but to my great surprise, every deer, fox, badger and rabbit stood out brightly in the viewer. I was shocked! As I made my way along, I searched ahead and instantly spotted a heat source – and this was when I learned an interesting lesson. With a rabbit located and unaware of my presence, I stalked in, rested my rifle on the shooting sticks and flicked the lamp on. What? I couldn’t see anything. The lamp lit up the grass between me and my target, which obscured my view. I suddenly laughed out loud.
A magic trick
The thermal saw straight through the vegetation, almost like a magic trick. Lesson learned, I moved on. On an open patch of land easily 200 yards ahead, a quick scan showed three rabbits out feeding. After checking the wind, I closed the distance to what I thought was 30 yards and scanned again. Sure enough, there were the rabbits, completely unaware of me, so again I put the rifle on the sticks and flicked the lamp on. The first rabbit dropped instantly to a brain-stem shot, and the second hesitated one second too long and joined its warren mate. The third wasn’t so silly and took off like a rocket.
I feel that I’m at the beginning of a fantastic journey into a new world of night vision. Scott Country are selling these things as fast as they can get them, and I can certainly see why. In an act of huge kindness, they’ve told me that I can keep my test unit a little longer, which I hope will include harvest time. When the cover comes down, I’ll be able to see my quarry at huge distances and plan my approach precisely – and I have to say that I absolutely cannot wait!
This tiny monocular is opening up a new world of hunting for me
The focus ring is around the eye piece
4 x AA batteries are carried in this cartridge
Even on a warm night the the rabbits stood out beautifully