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        Glassing with Thermal Binoculars

        Glassing with Thermal Binoculars

        Hunting is a timeless pursuit that has been refined over generations, and now the primal nature of the sport has melded with modern technology. One of the most critical skills a hunter can possess is the ability to spot prey from a distance, and in this endeavor, glassing skills reign supreme. Whether you're stalking game in the rugged mountains or across expansive plains, using the terrain to your advantage and employing the right equipment can make all the difference in your hunting success.

        Ed Beattie, a seasoned hunter and now the general manager of Cabela's, once emphasized the importance of spending ample time behind your optics. When you're positioned atop a tall hill or mountainside, you have a unique vantage point that allows you to scan the surrounding landscape for signs of your quarry. However, patience is the key to successful spotting, just as it is in hunting overall.

        Terrain Advantage

        Imagine being perched on an elevated spot with an unobstructed view of the terrain below. If you don't spot any animals within the first two or three hours, it's tempting to move on to another location. However, this impatience can be a hunter's downfall. The terrain advantage you have should not be squandered. Instead, take your time and observe diligently.

        A good pair of binoculars with high magnification can extend your visual range far beyond what you could see from a ground blind. These optics provide you with the opportunity to survey the landscape in detail, increasing your chances of spotting elusive prey.

        Glassing from an Elevation

        While glassing from an elevated position offers numerous advantages, it's important to remember that the animals you're hunting are not oblivious to their surroundings. Many prey animals possess highly developed survival instincts. Deer, for instance, are naturally wary creatures, always on the lookout for potential threats.

        To avoid detection, hunters should maintain a low profile and avoid exposing themselves over the top of a ridge, mountain, or hill. This is known as "skylining" and should be avoided at all costs. Military personnel are told to avoid silhouetting themselves against the sky for a similar reason. Just as vigilant enemy snipers watch for silhouettes in combat, wildlife is constantly scanning for unusual shapes on the horizon.

        The Merger LRF XP50

        The downside of daytime binoculars is their inadequacy in low light environments. However, with thermal binoculars like the Merger LRF XP50, you have the power of long range detection in both daylight or nighttime. With a detection range of 1,968 yards and a high-definition 640x480 <25mK NETD thermal sensor, the Merger surpasses daytime binoculars in both daytime and nighttime observation. Its impressive 10-hour battery life ensures extended periods of use, perfect for those who require prolonged surveillance in the field.

        What sets thermal binoculars like the Merger apart is their ability to detect heat signatures, making it possible to spot animals regardless of camouflage or time of day. This technology is particularly useful for hunters who want to track game during low-light conditions.

        The Merger LRF XP50's 2.5x – 20x variable magnification makes it a versatile tool for long-range observation. However, to maximize the quality of your observations, it's advisable to use a stable mount or tripod. This steadiness reduces image shake, ensuring that you capture higher-quality images.

        Grid-Based Observation

        When using thermal binoculars for observation, it's essential to have a systematic method. Consider the approach taken by the famous archaeologist Howard Carter when he discovered Tutankhamun's tomb. Carter divided the desert into grids and methodically searched each one until he found the tomb.

        You can apply a similar approach to hunting by mentally dividing the landscape into grids and moving your binoculars slowly from left to right and up and down. This methodical approach ensures that you cover the entire area and increases your chances of spotting wildlife giving off infrared heat in the distance.

        In conclusion, hunting and observing the terrain with thermal binoculars is a skill that combines patience, precision, and the right equipment. Leveraging your terrain advantage, employing high-quality optics like the Merger LRF XP50, and using systematic grid-based observation techniques can significantly enhance your hunting success. Remember that while technology can provide an advantage, it's your knowledge, skill, and respect for the natural world that make you a successful and ethical hunter.

        How to read Pulsar Product Names

        How to read Pulsar Product Names

        The nomenclature of Pulsar products may be slightly confusing for newcomers to the brand. Every Pulsar product has letters and numbers appended to it which indicate the product’s sensor size, objective lens, and thermal resolution.

        The numbers on a unit refer to the size of its objective lens and determine its focal length. For example, an XG35 has a 35mm objective lens, while an XP50 has a 50mm lens and so on. The “Pro” tag indicates extra thermal sensitivity, capable of finding minute details in heat signatures. The Thermion 2 LRF XG50 has a NETD of <40mK while the Thermion 2 XQ35, even though its objective lens is smaller, has a more sensitive <25mK thermal sensor.

        The letter conventions are tied to specific sensor resolutions, while the numbers stand for the size of a unit’s objective lens.

        A quick reference chart follows:

        Why is the size of a thermal sensor important?

        The size of a thermal sensor affects the level of detail in the image it produces. Just like a high-resolution monitor, a larger sensor with more pixels will give you a clearer and more detailed picture.

        Pixel pitch is another determinant factor of a product’s quality. Defined as the distance between two pixels, pixel pitch is measured in microns (µm). The smaller the unit, the closer the pixels are packed, and thus the better the image quality will be.

        Why does the size of the objective lens matter in a thermal scope?

        The size of the objective lens determines the magnification you can achieve and affects unit’s focal length and display resolution. The focal length of an optical system is a measure of how strongly the system converges or diverges light. An optic with low focal length will display very wide images, while an optic with a high focal length will display single objects in greater detail.

         A larger objective lens and display size also result in higher magnification. Additionally, a larger sensor size and a smaller objective lens focal length provide a wider field of view.

        The detection range of a thermal scope also depends on the focal length of the objective lens. A longer focal length allows for a greater detection range, assuming the thermal sensor remains the same. However, high focal lengths lead to higher magnification and a decrease in the field of view.

        The resolution of a thermal scope is influenced by the resolution of both the objective lens and the eyepiece. If the objective lens is small, it limits the potential improvement in resolution and image quality of the unit.

        Thermal Resolution

        Measured in millikelvin (mK), thermal resolution measures the ability of a device to detect even the smallest temperature differences. The smaller the number, the more sensitive the device will be. More sensitive devices result in clearer images.

        Thermal resolution compares the signal from the object you're trying to see to the background signal and takes into account any noise from the thermal sensor. A thermal imager with good resolution can clearly show an object that has a temperature very similar to the background, like a pig covered in cool mud against cool, dry earth. The higher the thermal resolution, the smaller the temperature difference between the object and background that can be displayed.

        Understanding the importance of certain factors in thermal imaging technology can greatly enhance the hunting experience. The size of the thermal sensor affects the level of detail in the image, with larger sensors producing clearer and more detailed pictures. Similarly, the size of the objective lens plays a role in magnification, field of view, and detection range. A larger objective lens can provide higher magnification and a wider field of view, but it may limit the detection range. The resolution of the thermal scope depends on the resolution of the objective lens and eyepiece, with larger lenses contributing to improved image quality. By considering these factors, hunters can make informed decisions when selecting thermal imaging equipment to optimize their hunting performance.

        An Unforgettable Wild Hog Hunt with the Thermion 2 LRF XG50

        An Unforgettable Wild Hog Hunt with the Thermion 2 LRF XG50

        It was one of those humid east Texas nights. Even if the sun wasn’t blazing above and only the moon and stars provided any kind of light at all, the night air still seemed to hold on to the stickiness of the afternoon. T-shirt weather.

        On a patch of farmland near Paris surrounded by thick woods, a farmer had complained that a sounder of feral hogs had been ripping up his property. Since hog hunting season in Texas is year-round, much like the hogs’ mating season, it was a problem that had to be taken care of quickly.

        Mitchell Graf, writer for GunsAmerica Digest by day and thermal hunter by night, stood in a field alongside several other men from Black Sheep Outdoors. The men had been called to negotiate the removal of the intruders.

        The hunters on their firing line. Photo courtesy: Mitchell Graf


        The wild hog of Texas is a cunning, elusive animal. Long ago, they learned that the warmth of the sun also brought death in the form of the two-legs and their loud sticks. Now, most hogs favor the cool of the night. However, that means nothing to thermal hunters.

        Graf’s POF Rogue AR-10 .308 was sporting a Pulsar Thermion 2 LRF XG50 digital thermal riflescope, and even in the near pitch-darkness its highly sensitive <40mK NETD thermal sensor was able to pick up the heat signatures of even the smallest creatures at 1900 yards.


        They first saw the hogs standing in the middle of a clearing, just begging to be shot. Looking through the Thermion 2 LRF’s 1024x768 HD viewfinder, Graf counted 25 feral hogs milling around the open pasture. The creatures were of various sizes, with the large boars and sows leading the smaller juveniles to the patches of soft earth where they would turn up the soil in search of roots and grubs.

        That wasn’t going to happen tonight.

        The hogs were about 500 yards away from the hunters’ firing line. Well within the Thermion 2’s viewing range, but too far for a comfortable shot. As the men hurried to set up a wide firing line and mounted their rifles on Kopfjäger tripods, the hogs decided the pickings were too slim and vanished back into the wood line.

        The hunting party wasn’t about to let this opportunity go to waste. Using a Convergent Bullet Caller loaded with hog noises, they attempted to lure the beasts back into the pasture. For a moment, nothing happened, and the hunters heard nothing but the sound of synthetic hog calls and crickets in the distance. Then Graf heard a faint rumbling of hooves in the distance getting closer by the second, accompanied by the rustling of leaves and the snapping of branches in the thicket to the left of the firing line. The men heard a great cacophony of frenzied grunting and squealing growing louder and louder, and it wasn’t coming from the Bullet caller.

        Suddenly, the entire sounder burst out of the thicket at a full run, a mere seven yards from the hunting party. The hunters, just as surprised to see the hogs as the animals were to see them, swung their rifles to their left flank in a panic. The men on the leftmost side of the firing line scrambled to pick up their tripods, making a mad dash to get out of the line of fire. Gunshots drowned out the sound of screaming hogs as the hunters poured down a withering fusillade of large caliber semiautomatic fire on the confused beasts. By the time the dust had settled, and the last surviving animal had scampered back into the thicket, the men found two of the animals dead at their feet, while an untold number of wounded and dying retreated into the woods.

        In that adrenaline-charged moment, under the cover of darkness and armed with their rifles and the power of innovative thermal vision technology, the hunters experienced a wild hog hunt unlike any other.

        This encounter was a testament to the unpredictable nature of wild hog hunting, where preparation, skill, and quick reflexes determine the outcome. Pulsar’s Thermion 2 LRF XG50 not only bridged the gap between night and day but also allowed the hunters to confront the darkness and the great beasts who lived in it head on.

        In the vast expanse of Texas, where the feral hog problem persists, stories like these serve as a testament to the ongoing battle between man and beast. This close encounter of the squealing kind underscores the primal nature of the hunt itself. It was a night forever etched in their memories, and one of the many experiences that fuels the same passion for adventure that lives in the hearts of all outdoorsmen.

        Scopes and Tools Needed for Hunting at Night

        Scopes and Tools Needed for Hunting at Night

        Night hunting can be both a thrilling and rewarding experience. Animals normally asleep or invisible during the day come out after the sun goes down to forage for food or hunt, unaware they are being hunted themselves by an apex predator aided by the latest technological advancements.

        While hunting deer at night is illegal nationwide, there are other hunting opportunities for fur bearing animals such as coyotes, raccoons, rabbits, and foxes or larger animals like pigs, bobcats, and non-indigenous wildlife in places like Texas. Before you set out on your expedition, it’s your responsibility to educate yourself on what kind of animals are legal to hunt at night.

        Once you are absolutely sure that you’ve dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s researching your state’s hunting regulations, it’s time to prepare for the hunt itself. Like any outdoor activity, nighttime hunting requires one to be prepared with a checklist of items specific to the occasion. For the best nighttime hunting experience, you will need the following:

        1. Rifle capable of mounting a thermal scope.

        Rifles are the weapon of choice for the large caliber, long-range hunter. Your rifle should have rails or at least mounted scope rings on it compatible with your optic of choice. Hunters who take night hunting seriously utilize digital devices like the Pulsar Thermion Duo DXP50, the world’s first multispectral hunting riflescope, which has the unique capability to see both in daytime mode and in thermal mode. With a detection range of 1,800 yards, no prey is too far for this magnificent thermal unit.

        1. Gutting knife

        A good gut knife and bone saw will be absolutely necessary for field dressing your kill, since it would be illogical to drag a 300-pound carcass all the way to the cooler in your vehicle, especially considering its guts are just dead weight.

        1. Bait/caller

        Callers, whether electronic or mouth-blown, can attract hogs or coyotes. Novice hunters are better off using the former over the latter, since a badly blown caller can sound like an alien creature to a hog, which might scare the animal away. An electronic call will last as long as batteries allow, and many of them play specific sounds such as distress calls, mating calls and others to attract specific types of animals.

        1. Flashlight/headlamp

        If you shoot an animal at night and fail to kill it with a single shot, the creature will run off into the woods and it will be your misfortune to track it. Finding a blood trail while the sun is out can be difficult enough but following it in the dark is both difficult and dangerous, which is why you need a flashlight.

        1. Thermal Monocular

        Whether you’re searching for prey to shoot or tracking your fresh kill, a light, compact monocular like the Axion 2 LRF XG35 would be easier to scout with than your digital thermal riflescope. A Pulsar thermal monocular is also capable of defeating any kind of natural camouflage and works in day or night, making it a viable option even when the sun is out.

        1. Toilet paper, flags, glow sticks

        As previously mentioned, blood tracking is one of the many unique challenges of the nighttime hunt. When one wants to both track his game and not get lost in the process, it’s advisable for the nocturnal hunter to get something bright like a piece of toilet paper, small bright orange flags, or glow sticks to mark blood trails, creating a visible path in the dark to backtrack on.

        1. First Aid Kit

        You are statistically more likely to get injured out in the wilderness than you are lounging about at home. Pack the essentials like bandages, alcohol, cotton swabs, and scissors while augmenting them with caladryl lotion for poison ivy and a tourniquet for any unfortunate firearms-related accidents.


        What about you? What kind of gear do you pack in your hunting kit? Tell us in the comments below!

        A Beginner’s Guide to Coyote Hunting

        A Beginner’s Guide to Coyote Hunting

        The illusive song dogs of the American south are opportunistic predators who use their cunning and heightened senses to track their prey, which is what makes them so hard to hunt. The coyote (canis latrans) is many things to many people. To some, especially shepherds and ranchers, it is nothing more than a dangerous pest wreaking havoc on livestock. Professional trappers see them as walking investments, and while the art of the furrier isn’t what it once was thanks to environmental activism, a high-quality coyote pelt can still sell for about $30-$40. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Navajo revere the coyote as the amoral trickster god, existing from the beginning of time along with the First Man and First Woman, and somewhere in the middle, the casual hunter just thinks they’re fun to shoot. 

        Hunting coyotes is not the same as hunting deer. While both creatures have heightened senses of smell and can run faster than an Olympic athlete on a good day, Wile E. and his kin have much better night vision than Bambi and are much more cunning. 

        A coyote has 20/75 vision, while a deer has 20/100. This means if a human with perfect vision can see an object clearly at 75 feet, a coyote would need to be 20 feet away to see the same object clearly. A human with either of these acuities would need prescription glasses, but just because we humans can see further does not necessarily mean we’ll notice them before they notice us.


        Thanks to the way their eyes sit in their sockets, a coyote has wider cones of vision. As predators with long snouts, they have a 260° cone of vision compared to a human’s 180°, meaning that they have better peripheral vision than we do. 

        It is often stated that most huntable animals like deer, hogs, and coyotes are colorblind, but this is not exactly the case. Their spectrum of colors is more limited than ours, but they should technically still see color. Red, orange, and green are beyond the visible spectrum of a coyote, however they can detect ultraviolet light, which is normally invisible to humans. This is important to remember if you hunt with freshly laundered clothes, since detergents that use fluorescent brightening agents like diamino stilbene disulfonic acid, fluorescent brighteners, fluorescent white dyes, or any detergent with the word “fluorescent” in the ingredients make your clothes stand out to a coyote, even they look perfectly camouflaged to you. 

        On a related note, the same fluorescent dyes also make you glow when being viewed through night vision equipment. If you still want your camo to work but don’t want to be given away by your awful, unnatural smell, consider using activewear detergent which works without any fluorescent brightening agents. 

        Where the coyote’s vision truly shines – literally – is at night. Multiple sets of glowing eyes in the darkness are usually the telltale signs of a pack of coyotes. This eerie phenomenon is caused by a layer of natural reflective tissue over a coyote’s eyes called the tapetum lucidum. Absent in humans, this membrane allows the eyes of nocturnal animals to collect more light, acting as a form of natural night vision lenses. 

        However, like dogs, coyotes tend to rely more on their sense of smell than their sight. A completely blind coyote can still smell blood from about a mile away, and the average “effective range” for a coyote’s sense of smell is 350 yards. If you are upwind of a coyote and inside that 350-yard radius, the coyote will very likely bolt. With 26 square inches of an olfactory zone and 220 million olfactory sensors compared to a human’s 400, the coyote’s sense of smell acts as an omnidirectional radar constantly searching for threats and targets of opportunity. 

        Hunting the Coyote 

        So then, it falls to the hunter to engage this animal when the wind is in favor, at long range. Since coyotes are active at night, the use of thermal imaging is not only recommended but required for engaging targets at the distances required for nighttime coyote hunting. While there are some flashlights capable of beaming down on a yote from several hundred feet away, their sheer brightness would make it seem like an alien counter to the coyote, and using high quality thermal imaging would allow hunters to see further and shoot with better accuracy. 

        The Talion XQ38 has an effective range of 1475 yards, but unless you’re blasting coyotes with a precision rifle capable of long-range shooting, it would be better for you to engage at ranges of 300 yards or less to ensure an ethical shot to the coyote’s vitals. 

        Now, a .223 with a ballistic tip is a good choice if you want rapid expansion, but unless the round hits bone on the other side, you’ll have an enormous exit wound that’ll ruin your pelt, if that concerns you. If not, all center-fire rounds with flat trajectories are suitable for coyote hunting. 

        However, if you want to preserve your pelt to sell, or if you’re interested in taxidermy, a .17HMR will do the job. This small, fast round will leave a small entry wound, and its exit wound – if any – will be far less gruesome than a larger centerfire round like a .223. 

        Scouting and Optics 

        Before you can kill any coyotes, you’ll have to know they’re even in the area. Be on the lookout for paw prints (generally 2.5 to 3.5 inches long) and droppings. Dark coyote dung means an abundance of meat in the area, and coyotes who are eating well have no reason to forage frequently, so there is less chance of seeing them. Lighter dung indicates slim pickings for the coyote, which means they’re more likely to respond to calls. 

        Using a mapping system like onXmaps, you can determine elevation points in your hunting area and hike to them to scout from a higher vantage point. Using a Merger LRF XP50 and its 1800-meter (2,000 yard) detection range, you’ll be sure to see any coyotes out in the open, even in pitch darkness. 

        If you do happen to find coyotes after the sun goes down – and you likely will, since they are more active at night – Use the Talion XQ38 for your riflescope. This powerful thermal riflescope has 9 hours of battery life for a full night of hunting, a 1,475-yard detection range, 2.5x base magnification for a wide field of view, and 10x magnification for closer shots. 

        Luring is the most effective way to hunt them. If you are down wind of the coyote and well-camouflaged enough, it is possible to get a shot in at 50 yards. 

        At this range, No. 4 buckshot with copper plated BBs, tightly patterned, would do the trick. 

        When calling, your scope – especially if you’re using thermal – should be kept on its lowest possible magnification setting to increase your peripheral vision. If possible, use the Merger to scan your surroundings before looking through your Pulsar optic of choice to deliver the kill. Avoid going closer than 4x until you are sure you have your target. 

        Coyotes are mostly active at night in search of game animals like mice and vermin. They prefer cooler temperatures for movement, 20° to 50° is what they consider comfortable. 

        Since most of their prey comes out at night, coyotes are mostly nocturnal. For the longest time, this limited coyote hunting to daytime hours alone, but with the latest developments in hunting technology such as digital thermal vision, more and more hunters are becoming adept at long range night hunting. This is especially important for farmers and ranchers who wish to keep their animals safe from coyote attacks. 

        What about you? How do you scout and hunt coyotes? What kind of optics do you use? Tell us in the comments below. 



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