Ther­mal the­ory

The editor con­tin­ues his love af­fair with ther­mal night-vi­sion

Air Gunner - - NIGHT VISION -

Last month, I gave my ini­tial thoughts about the in­cred­i­ble Pul­sar Quan­tum Lite XQ23V ther­mal-imag­ing monoc­u­lar. Those of you who read that ar­ti­cle will re­mem­ber that I was deeply im­pressed with its abil­ity to find quarry, and keen to learn more. Those good peo­ple at Scott Coun­try who have loaned me the unit have al­lowed me to keep it a lit­tle longer to get to grips with all the ben­e­fits that this tech­nol­ogy can of­fer the air­gun hunter.

In essence, a ther­mal-imag­ing scope reads the heat emit­ted by liv­ing crea­tures, and dis­plays that as it con­trasts with the cooler back­ground of the coun­try­side. With all the hot weather we’ve been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing, I won­dered if the differential would be enough, and I’m here to tell you that it most def­i­nitely is! I had no prob­lem at all find­ing all our typ­i­cal quarry species.

Keep it sim­ple

The Quan­tum Lite is their en­try-level model, so Pul­sar have kept the tech­ni­cal fea­tures list short, and for me, that’s a pos­i­tive thing. Some bits of night-vi­sion kit are so com­plex that they put peo­ple off, but this model was sim­ple to un­der­stand and use.

The main con­trols, apart from on and off, are the ro­tary dial at the front that con­trols the bright­ness of the im­age, and the mode but­ton that al­lows you to cus­tomise what you see. These two gave me all the op­tions and con­trol I needed. I ex­per­i­mented with the op­er­at­ing modes; city, for­est and iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, ex­pect­ing the ‘for­est’ mode to be the best for my needs, but I found that the ‘ iden­ti­fi­ca­tion’ mode suited my eye best.

Like many other night-vi­sion units I’ve tried, im­age fo­cus needs to be un­der­stood well to get the best from it. The depth of field, i.e. the area that’s in sharp fo­cus at any given time, is quite shal­low, so it’s nec­es­sary to re­fo­cus for the long­est and short­est dis­tances. Be­cause of this, I leaned to set the eye piece for the mid­dle ground, where I was search­ing most, and then make ad­just­ments for the other ranges. Set like this, I found I was able to search quickly and ef­fi­ciently.

I also learned to use the bright­ness con­trol fre­quently, to max­imise the im­age I viewed. This is the large roller con­trol at the front of the hous­ing that’s well placed for easy and com­fort­able changes.

Ex­pe­ri­ence counts

Talk­ing to our own Jerry Moss about ther­mal imag­ing gave me a use­ful in­sight from a man who has used this tech­nol­ogy for prob­a­bly as long as any­body in the air­gun busi­ness. His work re­quires him to erad­i­cate any grey squir­rel that en­croaches into the area he pro­tects to help our na­tive red squir­rel sur­vive. Be­cause this is lit­er­ally a life and

death sce­nario for the red squir­rels, he uses any equip­ment and tech­nol­ogy that makes him more ef­fi­cient in the field, and he dis­cov­ered long ago that ther­mal imag­ing was quite su­perb in that role.

Jerry has used FLIR ther­mal monoc­u­lars for years and knows all too well just what a huge ad­van­tage they give the air­gun hunter. He’s cur­rently tri­alling the same Pul­sar unit as I am, which made his view­point very use­ful to me. I was fas­ci­nated to learn that we had ended up se­lect­ing the same view­ing op­tions as each other, with­out ever dis­cussing them. Per­haps these re­ally are the best ones for air­gun hunters.

Too much veg­e­ta­tion

As I men­tioned last month, this time of year is frus­trat­ing for the air­gun hunter with the trees full of leaf and the grass and weeds so tall. The ther­mal can still find an­i­mals through this but you can­not shoot. The good news is that the farm­ers where I live are be­gin­ning to take the first cut of hay, open­ing up the fields again and al­low­ing me to see my quarry.

It also al­lows me to search for rab­bits at long dis­tance, some­thing the Quan­tum does very well. Once I lo­cate them, I check the wind di­rec­tion and plan my ap­proach, check­ing at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals that they are still ahead, and that the noise I’m mak­ing with my feet hasn’t alerted them to my ap­proach. With so many deer on our es­tate it can be quite a job to work my way past with­out alarm­ing them into run­ning, which in turn, would alert the rab­bits I’m af­ter.

I also re­mem­ber to work my way for­ward very slowly, scan­ning all around ev­ery 10 yards or so, to spot ad­di­tional rab­bits to the first ones I see. On sev­eral oc­ca­sions, I ac­counted for an ex­tra one here and there that I’d have walked straight past with­out the ther­mal in my hands.

I’ve truly come to love this piece of equip­ment and now have to de­cide whether I’m go­ing to buy one. It’s a su­perb ad­di­tion to the tech­ni­cal ar­se­nal of any night-time hunter and I know from speak­ing to Jerry that my pro­duc­tiv­ity in culling squir­rels in the bare win­ter woods would be hugely im­proved as well. De­ci­sions, de­ci­sions … Con­tact: Scott Coun­try Tel: 01556 503587 Web: www.scottcoun­try.co.uk Man­u­fac­turer: Pul­sar Model: Quan­tum Lite XQ23V Weight: 350 grammes RRP: £1199.95

“a use­ful in­sight from a man who has used this tech­nol­ogy for prob­a­bly as long as any­body in the air­gun busi­ness”

Ther­mal imag­ing works just as well in day­light as at night

My in­dex fin­ger is on the bright­ness con­trol

Re­fo­cus­ing is needed as range changes

It’s wise to spend time to se­lect the im­age style that suits your eye

A built-in front lens cover is a great idea

Com­pact and sim­ple, the Quan­tum Lite is a su­perb tool for the se­ri­ous hunter

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