Daytime Use of Thermal

By Mark Butler

Thermal imaging technology has existed for roughly 60 years but has only been available to civilian consumers for the past 20-30 years. Unlike night vision, thermal imaging requires zero light to function. Thermal imaging sees heat signatures that are invisible to the naked eye. Anything that emits heat is visible to thermal imaging technology. While its most popular application is for hunting, the wide variety of uses for thermal imaging ensure that it will be a dominant technology in numerous business sectors for many years. Thermal imaging is brilliant for law enforcement purposes, such as determining if a car has recently been driven, or if a discarded firearm has been fired. Thermal imaging has also proven invaluable for search-and-rescue efforts. It has become a must-have for ranchers and farmers who need to keep track of their livestock herds on large properties. Thermal technology has medical applications; it can be used to detect fevers in animals, including humans, and it may be able to provide an early warning for pregnancy. Thermal imaging can also be used for home and building inspections to locate trapped moisture, water leaks, air flow, insulation and electrical problems.

In short, thermal technology is the wave of the future. Its broad range of applications is expected to grow as these units become more sophisticated, compact and affordable. Out of all the companies in the world that are experimenting and innovating with thermal technology, one stands head and shoulders above the rest – Pulsar.    

The wonders of thermal imaging

Examples of thermal products

Before examining the unique advantages thermal imaging technology brings to daylight hours, let’s examine some of Pulsar’s state-of-the-art products that utilize this technology.

Pulsar Axion XM30S Monocular

A close up of a camera

Description automatically generated
  • 320×240 resolution – 12um pixel pitch core
  • 1,400-yard detection range
  • High optical magnification
  • 4x digital zoom – continuous zoom and 2x / 4x stepped zoom
  • Lightweight and rugged magnesium alloy housing
  • B-pack mini power system
  • Picture in picture digital zoom
  • Video and photo recording
  • HD AMOLED micro-display
  • Stream Vision app supported
  • External power supply adaptable
  • Multiple color viewing modes
  • Stadiametric rangefinder
  • IPX7 waterproof rated

Pulsar Accolade 2 LRF Binoculars

A close up of a toy

Description automatically generated
  • Highly sensitive thermal imaging sensor <40mK
  • 640×480 resolution / 17um pixel pitch core
  • 2000yd detection range
  • Image boost technology
  • Integrated laser rangefinder
  • Built-in photo and video recorder
  • 4 observation modes
  • Variable digital zoom
  • Picture-in-picture
  • 8 color palettes
  • Wi-Fi integration with IOS and Android devices
  • Up to 8 hours operating time
  • Waterproof

Pulsar Trail 2 LRF XP50

A picture containing light, traffic, street

Description automatically generated
  • 640×480 resolution – 17um pixel pitch core
  • Highly sensitive thermal sensor <40mK NETD
  • High definition image
  • Built-in precision laser rangefinder
  • Shockproof magnesium alloy housing
  • Image boost technology
  • Full-color HD AMOLED Display
  • Built-in photo and video recorder
  • 16Gb Internal memory
  • Detection range up to 2000 yd
  • 13 variable electronic reticles
  • Instant 3 second start-up
  • Recoil rated up to .375 H&H / 12-gauge / 9.3×64
  • Zeroing profile management
  • Variable digital zoom
  • Picture-in-picture mode
  • Stream Vision app integrates with IOS and Android devices
  • Waterproof

Daytime use

Thermal imaging provides an amazing advantage to hunters during daylight hours. Night-vision technology is fairly useless during the daytime – the internal Image Intensifier Tubes (IITs) can be damaged if exposed to sunshine – so using night vision during the day is unwise. Even digital night vision riflescopes, which can be used during the day, won’t provide the detection range and heat signature information of a thermal device. So, for people who are willing to spend the extra money and invest in a thermal, what are the benefits of daytime thermal usage?

One spectacular benefit of daytime thermal usage is the ability to see through thick brush and vegetation. Often, hunters lie in wait for hours, hoping to catch a glimpse of their prey – only to see nothing. This is remarkably frustrating. With a thermal device, all those little camouflaged birds, varmint, hogs or anything else that is hiding in the brush will become instantly visible. Also, when a deer’s antlers are engorged with blood, they will show up on a thermal device like fireworks on July 4th. A helpful tip here would be to increase the brightness setting on the thermal optic, because during the daylight hours, the Sun will be putting off heat, so to get clear profiles of prey animal, increase the brightness settings slightly.

Another common frustration is shooting an animal, usually a deer, and then searching miles and miles for the wounded beast because the shot wasn’t a kill-shot. Deer are amazingly strong animals, and unless they are shot in the brain or heart, will run for untold miles, usually over rough, uneven terrain. With a thermal, this problem is instantly solved – a warm blood trail will jump out on a thermal device, instantly obvious and easily trackable.

Specks of a blood trail seen through a Pulsar Axion

Notably, cold-blooded creatures such as reptiles and fish do not emit heat signatures, so they are not instantly visible with a thermal device. However, their outline will be obvious – which is better than nothing, and is what you would get on a night vision device or regular, un-powered optics….which leads to the next point-of-interest for thermal devices: Improved target identification. No hunter wants to shoot their neighbor’s pet dog, nor livestock, or heaven forbid, a human being. With thermal, target identification is quick and accurate and leaves no room for a tragic case of mistaken identity.

As always, check with local laws, game wardens and park authorities before employing the use of thermal devices. Many states and countries do not permit the usage of thermal devices, so it is imperative to receive permission before embarking on a thermal-powered hunt.

Verdict

The benefits of thermal imaging devices are simply astounding. Whether you are hunting during the day or night, thermal will help. During the day, you will have improved visibility through brush and camouflage, be able to follow a blood trail, and have improved target identification, especially of smaller animals and varmint. You will be able to see cold-blooded creatures, albeit just their outline. Overall, the only drawback of thermal imaging is its relatively higher cost than other professional optics – however, this expense is offset by the numerous hunting and scouting advantages that thermal provides. And when you want the best, most affordable thermal optics on the market, there’s only one name that delivers quality every time – Pulsar.