Is Thermal Imaging Hunting’s Latest Game-Changer?

A few products in history have truly changed how we hunt. Could thermal devices be the next technology to change the game for the better?

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Is Thermal Imaging Hunting’s Latest Game-Changer?

Throughout hunting’s history, innovations in technology have come along to update and improve our abilities in the field. Some are even game-changing. Gunpowder, repeating rifles, compound bows, treestands, trail cameras — the list is long and distinguished, with each innovation allowing hunters to do more than ever before. Although the goal is still the same — quickly and humanely taking animals — the methods have changed.

One of the most recent innovations that’s changing hunting before our very eyes is the use of thermal imaging. The ability to “see heat” is proving useful in all sorts of hunting applications, but it boils down to one basic concept: What was once hidden is hidden no more.

No, thermal devices can’t see through everything (it’s not Superman’s X-ray vision, after all), but they can detect heat through fog, brush, darkness and all sorts of other obstructions that have always kept animals from hunters’ vision. The ability to see what’s going on in the darkness is a game-changer by itself, especially for night hunters pursuing hogs, coyotes and other predators. It’s not an exaggeration to say that hunting as we know it will cease to exist if those populations aren’t controlled. For its role in hog eradication alone, thermal might be the best thing that’s happened to hunting in decades.

“The fact that thermal prices have come down and are now more affordable than ever before is due in part to innovations and continued technological advances from companies like ATN,” said Marc Vayn, CMO and Chairman of ATN. He continued, “We constantly push the envelope to bring to market advanced systems with great features, while keeping the price point at levels that every outdoorsman or women can have access to.”

Any hunter worth his salt knows that scouting is key to a successful season, and thermal excels in this regard. Pre-hunt or pre-season scouting with a thermal device like ATN’s OTS XLT — day or night — gives hunters an edge, enabling them to find game and determine movement patterns more quickly. Thermal lets you see things on your property that you never knew were there.

And then there’s the hunt itself, of course. Because thermal works as well during the day as it does at night hunters don’t have to change optics or purchase add-ons to make a thermal scope like ATN’s ThOR4 useful 24 hours a day. It’s good to go no matter the lighting conditions, and it brings the woods and fields alive with game that just isn’t visible with traditional optics. For nighttime use, thermal is an absolute game-changer, enabling you to better identify what critter is coming in to the call and make better, safer shoot-or-don’t-shoot decisions.

Consider the safety factor, too. You’re not always as alone in the woods as you think you are. Thermal allows you to see if there are other hunters in the immediate vicinity — a safety measure you might not have considered before, but if you hunt crowded public land, it’s worth thinking about.

One area that hasn’t see a lot of innovation in decades (maybe centuries) is tracking wounded game. It’s always been a matter of finding blood and following it until it leads you to a downed animal or until the trail fades out — and when that happens, the search turns into a frustrating  needle-in-a-haystack situation and the odds of recovering the animal plummet. It’s an unfortunate fact that’s been accepted as “just part of hunting” since the beginning of time — until the introduction of thermal imaging. Hunters are now using thermal scanning devices such as ATN’s top-of-the-line OTS 4T to search for wounded or downed game, swinging those needle-in-a-haystack odds dramatically into their favor. Yes, they still have to cover ground to find the animal, but as long as the search starts before the animal has a chance to cool off, finding downed game is a much simpler matter of scanning the landscape for heat signatures. It’s amazing how much time this can shave off recovery efforts and how many animals can be found this way that might otherwise have gone unrecovered.

With prices coming down to everyman levels and the advantages it provides in scouting, safety, day- and nighttime hunting and game recovery and tracking, could thermal be the next big game changer that alters and improves the way we hunt? All indications say it already has!


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