Augmenting Hunting NVDs with Infrared|
In the past, hunting was traditionally reserved for daylight hours when hunters could be reasonably assured of finding their quarry without too much worry about visibility. With the setting of the sun though usually came an end to the hunt. Modern technology, however, has turned this conventional wisdom on its head and now many hunters are finding a whole new aspect of hunting that was once closed to them.
First gaining serious recognition with the military, night vision technology quickly became popular with the public. This popularity was tempered however by the expensive nature of night vision equipment and its limited availability. Unless you had access to suppliers and a large expense account, night vision was relegated to the stuff of wish lists and movies. This popularity with the public however encouraged manufacturers to begin expanding their markets and night vision equipment soon began declining in price and increasing in availability.
For the layman and uninitiated, night vision is made up of two main types of technology. Image Enhancing Technology works by using the available light, especially the infrared end of the light spectrum, and amplifying it. This is the form of night vision usually seen in the movies and on military news footage that so quickly grabbed the public’s attention. Thermal Imaging on the other hand uses the heat given off by objects to form an image that is then displayed on a screen or lens. While both make it possible to view objects in near total darkness, Image Enhancing Technology produces the most realistic and clear images and that is what we are going to consider here.
Night Vision Devices, or NVD’s for short, consist of devices that are categorized by generations. This first NVD’s are considered first generation NVD’s and were used by the U.S. military in the 1940’s and 50’s and usually used a viewer in conjunction with an infrared light source to illuminate objects in the dark. Since the infrared spectrum is invisible to the naked eye, military personnel were able to illuminate the enemy under the cover of night without giving away their position. It wasn’t long however before this NVD technology was put into use by other nations and so this form of night vision quickly lost much of the advantage it presented. With the enemy gaining the ability to also view the infrared light source when it was in use, this technology was no longer as stealthy as it once was.
The next round of NVD technology became known as generation two and greatly reduced the need for a separate infrared light source. Second generation NVD’s are much better at amplifying the existing light and so produce a clearer image. Third generation NVD’s use improved materials in the construction of their light amplifying components that increased their amplification power and produced still better resolution. Fourth generation NVD’s represent the best in NVD technology and are capable of viewing objects at great distances in low light conditions.
Needless to say, with each successive generation of NVD comes an increase in price, which has resulted in first generation NVD’s becoming the most commonly used type in civilian applications such as hunting. Although not as effective or powerful as later generation NVD’s, first generation equipment is still quite effective for less critical applications and certainly of great benefit for hunters seeking a cost effective way to implement NVD technology into their hunting excursions. Of particular note is the fact that all forms of NVD’s can still benefit from the addition of an external infrared light source. It is here that first or second generation night vision technology truly becomes practical for the avid outdoorsmen.
Since there is no need for concern over whether or not an external infrared light source may be visible to others with similar equipment in hunting applications, hunters can find themselves equipped with effective first and second generation NVD technology at a reasonable price. Remember, infrared light sources are invisible to the naked eye both human and non human, and that all NVD’s can benefit from an infrared light source. This means hunters are able to easily improve the effectiveness of first generation NVDs with portable light sources that emit light in the infrared spectrum.
Even better, producing light in the infrared spectrum can be as simple as adding a lens like Larson Electronics’s Infrared Lens Filter for their RL-11 HID Rechargeable Light. By simply adding a lens, the light from a spotlight or flashlight that normally produces light in the visible spectrum is shifted down into the infrared. This makes the light invisible to the naked eye, but very effective at improving the usefulness of first generation NVDs. This means that a hunter can use the more affordable first generation NVD equipment, even in very low light conditions, and get all the benefits that come from being able to exploit the nocturnal habits of many game animals.
NVDs are particularly well suited in many cases because they fit well with existing game laws that prohibit the use of lights and night vision. Most of these laws are geared towards more common game species that typically are less active at night. Game such as wild or feral hogs and coyotes however are commonly exempt from many of the laws prohibiting the use of lights and night vision. Because of this they are an excellent opportunity for hunters to not only expand their hours of hunting opportunity, but the variety of game they can seek as well. Of course it goes without saying that anyone considering taking up hunting with NVD technology should first check with their local laws, but for many localities the opportunities are quite varied.
It should be noted that hunters can benefit from just about every generation of NVD technology if they are willing to make the expense of using the latest generations available, but even the best NVD technology can benefit from an external infrared light source, particularly in extreme low light conditions. By using the more affordable first and second generation equipment however in combination with an external infrared light source, hunters can reap all the benefits without the added expense.