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NIGHT VISION – PREDATOR CONTROL or STOCK THEFT

 

 

NO matter how you look at it, the contrast between hunting normally and hunting with night vision is day and night! To be able to own the night gives you so much more of an advantage - after all poachers and predators don’t fight fair, so why should we!



My personal set up with extra IR illuminator fitted; the hand calls give an idea as to size of the unit.

I have hunted and controlled predators ethically since 1984. At first this was a hobby and in those days I think I scared most of the animals away with the sounds I made on a caller, but I did learn and in 1989 I decided to get into it and started to practise the trade professionally.  Those days it was all red lights and hand calls. Today it’s a different story, with modern high-tech Foxpro electronic callers and, yes – NIGHT VISION. I started experimenting with NV in 2007/8, and in this article I will give you all my findings and the final concept I now use, one you can also apply – which works!!! I have tried many ideas, suggestions and these are my findings;

THE CONCEPT

To start off, if you use a red light to hunt predators, some jackal are aware of these lights and know that they are one part of a package, the other part of the package being you the human, They know this, and educated jackal won’t come close; instead you will observe his eyes 300m away with your red light.

With NV if you use it in moonlight it works better as it gathers more light; the less moon the more you need to help it get light so to speak, and this is why they have built in infra-red enhancers / lenses / illuminators, These are general units, but having an extra one helps more. Some of the built-in IR illuminators work all right, but some don’t! The one built in to my Cobra Meteor really works nicely, I can’t complain.

When you see what it is like to hunt with Night Vision you will wonder how you ever hunted any other way before! Jackals and poachers don’t fight fair, so why should we!!!!!!

Using night vision allows you to be on equal ground so to speak, to see what a jackal can see, and once you actually see with these systems you will be amazed, You also will say that now that you have seen what it is like to hunt like this, you will wonder why you ever hunted any other way before! What I learned was NV and getting used to it is like a car: when we learn to drive we need a handbrake on a hill, but soon we can pull away without a hand brake; we must just know at what spot the clutch takes. The same applies here: when you start to play with NV you will at the start struggle with focusing, distance, colouration, and to concentrate, but soon after your third and fourth attempt to focus and scan it becomes quick, just like driving a car. Like they say, “practice makes perfect”.

This article is to give a general idea on NV and I will share the experiences that I have had with my Cobra Meteor. It is a 1st generation unit; the 2nd, 3rd and 4th generations are supposed to be better quality, but this is not always true.

If you are trying to control jackal or stock theft from poachers, NV is the way to go. It is a concept that will, in time, be used by many others. If you hunt like this, just keep a red light on standby on very dim, and then when you want to shoot, put down the binoculars and switch on a dimmed red light. Some guys also use night rifle scopes - then you don’t use any red light at all, and we use this method as well, But I prefer to use a very low dimmed red light when shooting, whereas some guys use dimmed white also, but I feel that red has worked for me over many years so I will just continue.

GENERAL & EXPERIMENTS

The general NV that you can purchase is either MONOVISION (single tube) or BINOCULARS. Rather purchase a binoculars as they are easier on your eyes, causing less strain. When using a single Monovision, you need to keep one eye closed while scanning, This places more stress on the eye and can cause bad headaches.  The binoculars also makes it far easier to judge distance, and generally is a far better option, though more expensive. So you must work out whether the stock loss you are experiencing is worth spending a specific amount to catch the culprits.

I bought a Cobra Meteor PRO, as a friend of mine had one so I knew the quality. Tt is the best binoculars in its class that you can purchase and comes standard with a built-in infra-red lens ( IR), and I will say the built-in one is excellent on moonless nights, I was very impressed when I saw the beam of extra light it provided. My team of predator hunters consists of 4 people, and we each bought a set and to date have NO complaints about the Cobra Meteor as to clarity, quality or performance. The unit now is equal to second generation or even 3rd with the strong illuminator which is discussed later.

When I began to experiment I tried it on a dark night with NO MOON, just the Meteor switched on with the built-in INFRA-RED  also applied, I could see on a pitch-dark night, and could spot animals’ eyes at 140m and actually see the animal I had called in at a distance of 80m. I wanted something better, so looked into getting a COBRA enhancer IR; however, the price tag was pretty steep, so I decided to look at other options.

I decided on the best flashlight money can buy – namely SURE-FIRE. With this model a G2 or 9P throws a clean white beam mighty far and is pure light; there is no black ring in the centre that other torches throw. Also remember to buy a model with a high-tech bulb, NOT a LED! The LED is useless for an illuminator; the Sure-Fire range has excellent models to choose from. THE best would be a TURBO model - it is a massive torch and would throw a terrific IR beam of light, but the 9P or G2 remain excellent choices.

I purchased a bracket on e-bay to hold the torch to a rifle barrel. This bracket is now on my NV Meteor and instead of a rifle barrel, it’s mounted on the built-in IR pipe on my Cobra Meteor. It looks like it was made for it, they sit so well. So, I bought the Sure-fire and wanted to use it as an ENHANCER for my NV - after all, if you want a strong torch with good distance you won’t get better than a Sure-fire; it is the very best tactical torch you can buy.

IR MATERIAL

Now I had another problem, how to get IR material that I could put on the Sure-fire. I was told to put a few red filters on the light, which is supposed to be the same, BUT IS NOT. And I also wanted to get away from using red entirely. I learnt on the internet that an easy way to get infrared material is to use a developed camera spool that was taken with the cover on or taken in the dark without a flash, and then to take that black film and cut the piece needed, This is indeed infra-red and I tested it, and was very surprised as I got good range, However, it still had a slight red tint to it, so I was not happy. It was my aim to get completely away from RED and offer the jackal absolutely no hint at all that I was anywhere near him.

I do a lot of windmill hunting; I call from on top of a windmill, and use night vision, and after a hot day one’s scent rises so jackals don’t smell a ‘foreigner’ so easy and, using this concept without any red lights gets me good results.

After much searching I found a 75mm square piece of IR sheet made by LEE ,; it’s paper-thin and easy to cut. So, after payment and postage, I got it fitted in a holder I made from a plastic pill bottle top. It fits well and can pop on and off easily.  I fitted it to my Sure-Fire G2 and waited for another night of pitch darkness, I needed to have a totally dark night, on which to see the quality of the NV and IR system. When you put this torch on with the IR lens you cannot see any light at all; it is totally invisible to the human eye. But looking through a night vision binoculars and putting this torch on, is like putting on a light in a dark room - amazing to see; it looks like somebody just put a white light on above you.

I went to the same location on the farm, and put on the binoculars with the normal IR, and got familiar with the surroundings, then switched on the Sure-fire with the LEE IR filter – WOW! It was like switching on a light in a room that was in darkness. Looking through the binoculars it is almost as if you can see a massive white flooded light beaming down on the farmlands, but when you take it away from your face and look it, it’s totally dark. It is amazing to witness. I picked up an owl looking my way at a feeding trough, and we later paced the distance out at 210m – I could see his eyes at 210m with no problem at all, as an owl has big eyes which glow like big traffic lights in the IR light.

I called with the Foxpro and got 3 bat-eared foxes coming to the call, I spotted the eyes running in at about 210m away, and followed them in. At about 110m I could see them clearly; they came closer and at 80m they stood still when I shut off the sound. They looked at me for about 25 seconds, and then the one ran slightly left and the others stood still broadside. I put down the NV and turned on a white light - then they hit the afterburners and disappeared pretty fast!

Sure-fire G2 with my home-made
IR lens holder

I take extreme pride in everything I make either for sale or building for personal use, this lens holder is very well made.

It fits over the front of the Sure-Fire like a glove.

The Cobra Meteor with this IR lens is now better than 2nd generation quality.
I looked through a 2nd generation at the farm a year ago, a similar model, and it did not compare to this and the quality of light it gives. This small device gives off amazing light.

NEXT STEP

Infra-red on left (notice the black lens) and normal jackal light on right

My next trial run was to go bigger; I wanted to be able to see even better at night in total darkness, so again I organised a 20cm x 20cm piece of IR material from England from a friend for 20 Pounds. This was a new piece, as there is no way that would you find such a big piece in SA for that money. The lens is 3mm thick and also easy to cut.

I make up red lights for sale in SA for jackal calling, and I decided to use a shell I have with a 1, 5 million candle power rigging, so I fitted that huge lens to the torch and sealed it off. Next I made a second holder on my shooting chair in which the light can rest, and also an area in which I can put the extra-small 12V battery.

So, again we went to the farm location and set up. This time I DID NOT use that small IR with the Sure-fire, only the big 1,5 million blaster!

With this set up, I could see clearly and was able to identify bat-eared foxes out to 170m and see an open field like daylight at 250m; this was easy to do after the focus was set. I could spot eyes at far distances with this set up and it was an absolute pleasure to own the night using this system, I am a perfectionist and like all my equipment to be correct and 100% functional, and having a big IR set up, with a spare small IR on my binoculars is just like I want it to be.

The one bat-eared fox was standing at a section of the land where two paths met, so I was able to walk out afterwards to the exact position - it was a paced out at 143m exactly. At that range I could see him as clear as day, again those big traffic lights looking at you are very easy and fast to pick up on.

I would just like to comment why I used these animals as a trial and error for tests: bat-eared foxes are plentiful in the Cape and I have a nice place near the farm that I know has many – they are very willing to approach just about any distressed sound, are easy to call and come on in, often more than 3 at a time - and the main reason I call them for tests is that after you have called them in they will stand around for a long long time, just looking. So this gives me ample time to test NV equipment, see eyes running in, take photos, and generally just practise and focus NV equipment. When you are finished and turn on a white light, they will be gone; they are curious little critters. We have no jackal close to this area only bat ears, so it works out well for tests. It is good to practise on live animals, and these cute critters offer you the chance. A friend of mine many years ago had a few living under the porch of his farmhouse, and he would feed them and they would throw out all his rubbish from the bins, they were really fun to have around, and his farm house area was insect and mouse free!

CONCLUSION

To close, simply buy good NV binoculars, fit an extra IR lens and go calling. You can hunt without red lights, and educated jackals will have no idea that you are nearby. Just make sure to place your caller a little away from you in an open area, so that you can watch it heading to it. Then when it is close, put off the call, kiss with your lips, stop the creature and do the deed if it’s the target animal you want.

For watching poachers this also offers huge potential: you can observe people over 250m away without their knowing. One of my funny stands was in Sutherland. I was waiting for total darkness and, just as I was about to start calling, a person on a bicycle came past the road we sat close to, about 60 m from us. I watched him with the NV, and as he passed, I put on a male lion roar on the Foxpro, and that guy shouted with fright!

REMEMBER that in all the years you have called jackal, and waited for darkness, in those years how many predators walked past you or saw you and you will never know! This way you can observe before you start calling. Calling has many plus factors; calling with night vision compared to using red lights is like day and night! (Excuse the pun.)  It opens up a totally new angle in predator control, and being part of the darkness certainly does help!

Here is my Meteor WITHOUT the extra IR illuminator as example.




If you need more information on this model, feel free to drop me a line, the stock number of this Cobra Meteor I can give you – but keep in mind that this type of technology changes all the time like computers, you buy a new model today and tomorrow its already out of fashion and new ones are out, same with this, they are always improving, but if you can buy one of these models.

WARNING

DO NOT BUY A NIGHT VISION SECOND HAND, UNLESS you know the seller very well, it is very risky, and if the unit has been exposed to daylight with lenses off and the unit switched ON, it can get damaged, so DON’T buy second hand, its very risky! RATHER BUY NEW!

Here are a few pictures of the IR enhancer / illuminator cover I made up that fits the Sure-fire, I have two different covers, and the one is but just an emergency one, in case I damage the one on the Sure-fire. I always believe in a back up, even when hunting with red lights I keep one in a box as a back up IN CASE one breaks or a bulb blows.

This photo shows an INFRA RED lens that pops on and off the cover, this one I cut out the bottom of a GRAND PA HEADACHE tablet plastic bottle, and it fits over the Sure-Fire perfectly. The plastic bottle is very strong and is a good platform to mount the round lens to it.





This photo shows the Sure-Fire with the funnel and lens attached, it fits perfectly,

If you choose to go call or observe an area for either poachers, or for jackals at a place where they have killed stock, sit quietly over a moonlit night, a little way away, and observe. The moonlight helps hugely and you will see like daylight as long as you have a good quality product – jackals and poachers don’t fight fair, so why should we!

SEE MY UPDATED ARTICLE ON TWO EXTRA ITEMS I NOW USE;

CLEAR INFRA RED LENS

PRESSURE SWITCH FOR SUREFIRE.

SEE IT SOON UNDER PREDATOR CALLING INFO ON MY WEBSITE!

If you need more info see my website www.africanpredator.com  or call me on 0824853885.

 

All contents copyright 2008. African Predator.