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Hook & Barrel
A Lifestyle Magazine for Modern Outdoorsmen

Trekking across unfamiliar ground in the dead of night is no small task; of course, my knack for picking out the loudest twigs and leaves on which to step during the walk to my stand doesn’t help either. I was always at risk of getting caught. Honestly, the familiar sounds of does blowing or feral hogs barking and groaning over those many years never ceased. Making my exit often was another consideration, especially if I planned to return after a quick break or the next morning. Bowhunting with thermal may be the answer…


To complicate trekking and hunting, many of the areas I hunt are rife with heavily wooded stands of trees and tangled webs of thick underbrush. As a bowhunter, I am most often in tighter spots with less visibility, and trying to detect movement in the impenetrable layer of shadows darkening the woods around me is an exercise in futility. It is important to watch everything around you but equally important to move as little as possible. What could be worse than getting busted on the way to your hunting setup? Getting caught while you are there.


After the shot, recovery has always made me anxious and hoping for a short, easy tracking job. Recalling the precise location of an animal when it has been shot can be difficult, especially when descending from a treestand. Things have a strange way of looking differently at ground level. Even so, picking up the first sign of blood is often the easiest part of recovery. As it relates to ethics, recovery is often the most critical component of hunting, and employing whatever means necessary (and legal) is an acceptable measure. That said, as hunters, we live in great times! We have help in the form of thermal imaging.


Through decades of walks, waits, and, hopefully, recoveries, technology has improved dramatically. Thermal imaging is now at our fingertips and affordable! Pricing for devices like the Pulsar Axion begin at about $1,200, and heat signature detection are between 900 to 1,800 yards. The LRF model even includes a laser rangefinder, accurate up to 1,000 yards, +/- 1 yard, in zero light. Given improved affordability and the technological benefits for hunters, thermal imaging deserves space in every hunter’s pack. Keep in mind this technology routinely cost $10,000-$20,000 just a decade ago, and the quality of imaging left much to be desired.

Axion thermal imagers are available in Key and XQ models. All Axions include full-color displays—960×720 LCOS for Key models and 1024×760 HD AMOLED for the Axion XQ—with eight color imaging themes and magnification ranging by model from 2x to 24x. The XQ38 (non-LRF) also include onboard video.. IPX7 waterproof-rated Axion thermal monoculars are powered by rechargeable eight-pack lithium batteries (up to four hours) and protected by a rubber-armored housing. To learn more about Pulsar Axion thermal imaging monoculars, visit PulsarNV.com.     

Learn to bow hunt like Jim Shockey. Click here.


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