Are Thermal Devices Ethical For Predawn Scouting and Hiking?

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Jardo

Jardo

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I hope this isn’t something people abuse until it is banned.

I‘ve just recently gotten into night vision and have been researching thermal for hog and predator hunting.

Where I think it increases ethics is recovery after the shot, in terms of a thermal monocular. I primarily hunt a 3,600 acre swamp, where it’s hard to see more than 50 yards and you aren’t going to be able to blood trail.

During archery season, I regularly climb down several minutes before sunset, when there is still plenty of shooting light, due to the fact that I don’t know that I’d be able to find the animal after giving it time to die.

I’m considering buying a thermal monocular only for recovering game, especially as my kids are getting closer to hunting age. Like I said, hopefully people don’t screw it up and make it illegal.

Doubt they will help much. Thermals don’t see through brush, trees, etc and won’t pick up a blood trail.

Funny how people who aren’t familiar and have never looked through a thermal
Device have strong opinions about their use.

Game does not automatically pop out when you use them. In some instances, thermals are more of a hindering technology than helpful. I appreciate peoples opinions, but it’s not like in the movies or in a video game. The enemy doesn’t just die because you deploy them.


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Cowbell

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Doubt they will help much. Thermals don’t see through brush, trees, etc and won’t pick up a blood trail.

Funny how people who aren’t familiar and have never looked through a thermal
Device have strong opinions about their use.

Game does not automatically pop out when you use them. In some instances, thermals are more of a hindering technology than helpful. I appreciate peoples opinions, but it’s not like in the movies or in a video game. The enemy doesn’t just die because you deploy them.


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I can't count my cows at well over a mile with mine....the only issue I have is rocks that absorb heat during the day.
 

GotDraw?

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When the use of technology puts a hunter in such a superior position that an animal's amazing defenses of natural camouflage, superior hearing, amazing eyesight and sense of smell have absolutely ZERO chance of defending them, then it's no longer fair chase. Some people may still call it 'hunting", well that's their ethics and their decision and I respect it, but it's certainly not fair chase hunting.

Yes, IR may not see through thick or scrub, but it DOES allow the user to instantly "see" out over hundreds of yards of range and scan hundreds of acres field in complete darkness, immediately spotting heat signature images. Then it's just a simple decision to stalk in using that night vision, or move to another area to scan hundreds more acres in a few minutes to find other animals. No way that's fair chase, not a prayer. Is it really, really cool tech? Hell yeah. Is it "hunting", well that again depends on your individual definition of hunting. Same for rifles at 1000-1500 yds. Once you push the limit that far with any tech, then each person has to decide if their own ethics and definition of hunting requires "fair chase". When you can lean over the hood of your Ford Raptor that is idling to keep you warm, or walk in full-profile along a ridge line, scanning the valley below while sipping that hot Starbucks, double Frappuccino coffee with a lemon twist and not spooking animals, then I think the fair chase answer is obvious.

Not saying you can't or shouldn't do it. Is as tempting as Delilah? Hell yes.

I/R for pigs, varmints, fur? Yessir! All night long!

JL
 

cbeck36

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What about primitive weapons that are scoped and good past 400?
 
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Jardo

Jardo

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Hibernation, Laws controlling bag limits and seasons make sense to ensure the resource is maintained. Laws that control methods of take are meaningless except to appeal to someone’s moral sensibilities if the laws did rating bag limits and seasons are enforced.

now stop making sense. we don’t need any of that around here.


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OP
Jardo

Jardo

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When the use of technology puts a hunter in such a superior position that an animal's amazing defenses of natural camouflage, superior hearing, amazing eyesight and sense of smell have absolutely ZERO chance of defending them, then it's no longer fair chase. Some people may still call it 'hunting", well that's their ethics and their decision and I respect it, but it's certainly not fair chase hunting.

Yes, IR may not see through thick or scrub, but it DOES allow the user to instantly "see" out over hundreds of yards of range and scan hundreds of acres field in complete darkness, immediately spotting heat signature images. Then it's just a simple decision to stalk in using that night vision, or move to another area to scan hundreds more acres in a few minutes to find other animals. No way that's fair chase, not a prayer. Is it really, really cool tech? Hell yeah. Is it "hunting", well that again depends on your individual definition of hunting. Same for rifles at 1000-1500 yds. Once you push the limit that far with any tech, then each person has to decide if their own ethics and definition of hunting requires "fair chase". When you can lean over the hood of your Ford Raptor that is idling to keep you warm, or walk in full-profile along a ridge line, scanning the valley below while sipping that hot Starbucks, double Frappuccino coffee with a lemon twist and not spooking animals, then I think the fair chase answer is obvious.

Not saying you can't or shouldn't do it. Is as tempting as Delilah? Hell yes.

I/R for pigs, varmints, fur? Yessir! All night long!

JL

interesting how people draw lines. fair chase went out the door when humans made tools.


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GotDraw?

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interesting how people draw lines. fair chase went out the door when humans made tools.


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You're right-- but but be honest with yourself rather than stretching a thin argument.

For tens of thousands of years, animals had a very reasonable chance of sensing hunters. All of it fair chase. Through the evolution of stick bows to compound bows, flint locks to older muzzleloaders, rifles during the historical typical rifle range (before 750, 1000, 3500yd+ range finders, spin drift and Coriolis effect became a thing)-- animals could still detect your movement, sound or scent and run away.

It's the recent ability to totally and completely eliminate an animal's ability to defend itself that is the differentiator creating a bright line in an otherwise fuzzy area. Social media humble-bragging and competition about shot distance, rack size... Hunting advertising dollars and sponsorships... these are not helping in this ever increasing world of instant gratification and getting paid for something that until the last 20 years was done primarily for family meat/food.

When you can see animals in the deepest pitch black darkness and they can't see you -even with their vastly superior night vision capability. When the challenge is no longer the needing the skill to stalk, nor the need to take the stalking risk of getting busted stalking in closer, when you can shoot them from 1000-1800 yds, after setting up your 12lb gun (after slamming your truck door, after talking with your buddy in full voice about wind dope); well, that kinda kills the spirit of fair chase. At least for me.

It's still hunting since you need a hunting license. And if it's not illegal, then it's legal: rifles at 1500yds, 500 yd "primitive" muzzleloaders, infrared spotting. But is it fair chase? Differs for everyone, but at some distance, it is unequivocal that animals cannot see you or perceive a threat. And that, my friend, is not Fair Chase.

JL
 
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Laramie

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I'd normally agree with you, but not with emerging technology. Drones were pretty much legal for hunting, until they weren't. It took enough people seeing them as an issue and creating new laws to deal with it. The law had to catch up with the ethics. I'm just glad they did this before it became better established.

Thermal might be a different situation, but it's certainly new tech in terms of availability to the average hunter. I think it's worth considering if it belongs in the hunting toolkit, especially in western states where our tags are already limited.
I'm not saying I agree in any way with them being used. However, I think we use the term ethical pretty loosely in todays society. If it is legal, there is absolutely nothing unethical about an individual using one. However, I do believe people should pursue issues like this with game agencies if they do not feel they should be allowed.

I guarantee every person on here does something that is questionable to some other human being. My point is, attack the rules, not the individuals who are just staying inside the letter of the law.
 

mfllood3800

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The biggest issue with continuing using improved technology is the increased amount of game that would likely be harvested as compared to the amounts without it.
Were more animals harvested with the advent of tech improvement equipment like compound bows, longer range scopes, farther shooting rifles & muzzle loaders, automatic range finders, hunting gear and shelters that allow you to stay deeper into the woods over night rather than hiking in an out?
You have to answer this with a yes.
Yes technology allows the success rates to escalate.

In the end this means less animals survive, fewer tags can be sold next year, and longer wait times between hunts.
Part of me says , "I would rather hunt, every other year and have a less crowded hunt."
But currently I am already having to wait 3 years in Utah just to get a deer archery permit. Just a few years ago, I could draw a tag every year.

The LE Elk is basically now a once in a life time hunt. I have 5 points for antelope and likely won't draw for a couple more years.
The herd numbers are so screwed up in Utah, and tag allotment already, severely hindered, I can't help but see "some" technology improvements as a "greater" hinderance to "opportunity to hunt scenarios" than others.

Some technology helps a hunter be more ethical, while being more lethal.
Some technologies, just helps you be more lethal.

I bought a cheap IR night vision set up off Amazon. I hike in bear / lion country and wanted to Try one out. Yes it does improve my ability to see what I couldn't see before. No it doesn't help me more ethical. Yes it would help me be more lethal though.
For me, this is the question I would ask and the answer I get is how I would vote for improved tech items used in hunting......
"Does it help me be more ethical, or more lethal"

To me, bringing up the argument of all the past improvements to justify new ones doesn't validate the argument for new improvements. At some point we will need to stop the improvements due to diminished herd numbers and unsustainable growth for the future of the herds to survive. It's not just us out there pursing these animals, Natural predators the tree huggers want protected are decreasing herds. Winter kills, drought, humans invading the wilderness area to homestead, the never ending battle for winter feeding grounds with ranchers for their cattle. There is so much more out there affecting the strength of wildlife herds. It's not just the hunter. Yet it's the hunter who pays with their permit purchases the bulk of the bills for conservation. You start diminishing the hunters opportunity to draw a tag, you begin to lose the bulk of the money to sustain conservation efforts.

In the end, I foresee getting to hunt less and less. This is not good for the hunting industry.
 

MuleyFever

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Doubt they will help much. Thermals don’t see through brush, trees, etc and won’t pick up a blood trail.
I disagree to a point about not seeing through brush. If there is any part of the animal visible the thermal will pick up the heat signature. When I say visible I mean small windows, very small, that the thermal will see heat through. A person looking in the same spot will not be able to recognize an animal do to the small amount of the animal actually visible.

Every time I use my thermal to look for deer in oak brush I see deer with the thermal that I cannot find in the spotting scope for an extended time. Eventually I see them because they move but, had I not seen their heat signature I would have had no idea I needed to stare at that spot for 5 min to see them. On several quick scans I spotted a heat signature about 1000 yards or more in burn areas. With my binos there was absolutely no indication of a deer there. With the spotting scope I had to sit fixated on the spot for minutes before I noticed the deer mostly obscured by dead trees.

While you are correct that the thermal will not see through a tree it will absolutely see through the clutter that makes it extremely difficult to see an animal. If you put 2 guys on a ridge glassing into thick brush and dead trees the guy with the thermal will locate every animal in 90 seconds and the guy with binos will sit there for an hour and still miss deer. By the time the guy with binos thinks he has sufficiently glassed the area the guy with the thermal will have already scanned 2 more areas. That is one of the main advantages the thermal gives you. Like one poster said in most cases you cannot see antlers in a thermal, unless they are in velvet. The thermal just shows you exactly where to look so can quickly identify every animal and move on.
 

Newtosavage

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Is using a thermal monocular while hiking into your hunting area before the sun is up ethical or should we shun this technology and behavior. I am not asking if shooting before it’s light is ethical. most agree it is not. I am asking for comments about using thermals before it’s light while hiking before the sun is up.

I had an experience this year that made me realize hunters are not always ready for new technology and i want to see what others think about the advancements in optics and weapon technology that is changing the way we hunt.

let’s hear some thoughts!


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Ethics questions on hunting forums are imo pointless because they only ethics that matter are yours. So long as it's legal, YOU get to decide how you feel about it.

Questioning technology while carrying a modern rifle with a scope seems a bit odd to me. Even while carrying a bow and even while carrying a modern laminated recurve and carbon arrows.

Don't overthink this stuff. We're supposed to be enjoying ourselves.
 

CHAD PEZZLE

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Simple possession of a thermal scope in California will get you locked up. Know the laws when traveling with em.

This is absolutely false. Possession and use of thermal in California is completely legal for target shooting. It may even be legal for depredation, but I'd have to look back at the regs.

There are certain definitions of night vision scopes with IR illuminators that are illegal all together, the regs are little confusing on that one. But there are still combinations of night vision and whether it's weapon mounted or handheld that can be legally used as well.

Thermal and night vision are definitely illegal to use for any big game hunting in CA.
 

Where's Bruce?

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This is absolutely false. Possession and use of thermal in California is completely legal for target shooting. It may even be legal for depredation, but I'd have to look back at the regs.

There are certain definitions of night vision scopes with IR illuminators that are illegal all together, the regs are little confusing on that one. But there are still combinations of night vision and whether it's weapon mounted or handheld that can be legally used as well.

Thermal and night vision are definitely illegal to use for any big game hunting in CA.

Try and buy one in CA...I did. https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-468.html
 

MattB

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With trail cameras, scopes that provide instant ballistic information, how would this been any different?
Trail camera don’t help you locate animals, but inform you what is in the area. Instant ballistics don’t help hunters find animals but rather helps one shoot more quickly at animals you have already found.

With thermal you can essentially make it so no animal can use its instincts or habitat to elude hunters in some places. Very different.
 

CoStick

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Trail camera don’t help you locate animals, but inform you what is in the area. Instant ballistics don’t help hunters find animals but rather helps one shoot more quickly at animals you have already found.

With thermal you can essentially make it so no animal can use its instincts or habitat to elude hunters in some places. Very different.
Trail cameras don’t help you locate animals?
 

MattB

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now stop making sense. we don’t need any of that around here.


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It doesn’t make sense if you think more broadly about how the increased use of technology increased success rates can impact opportunity to a hunt a limited resource.
 

Jason__G

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Colorado Revised Statutes Title 33. Parks and Wildlife § 33-6-127. Hunting with artificial light, night vision, or thermal imaging devices​

"...it is unlawful for a person to utilize electronic night vision equipment, electronically enhanced light-gathering optics, or thermal imaging devices as an aid in hunting..."

Oregon is there as well, but slightly diffferent:

Prohibited Methods​

It is unlawful to:
  • Hunt, locate, or scout for the purpose of hunting any wildlife with infrared or other night vision sight or equipment except trail cameras.
 

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