Technology not always the enabler

Peter Osborne sets out into the field with a thermal imager. Find out how he got on.

Deer Stalking Thermal Image

Above: Otherwise unseen - a Muntjac buck clearly visible through the thermal Imaging equipment

Stalking over the late summer months meant a series of very early starts in order to beat the sunrise and an absolute focus on the males of the Fallow, Roe and Muntjac varietals! It is amazing at this time of year how many doe’s, Kids and fawns that you see during these warmer months and yet, the moment the 1st of November arrives, they immediately seem to disappear, only to be superseded by frequent appearances of the bucks!

As a member of the Capreolus club Plus scheme - deer-stalking-and-shooting-syndicate, I am able to get out deer stalking as often as I like and the drive to the clubs Basingstoke ground, takes me a little over a half-hour in the early morning traffic – a benefit of no longer living in the ‘Big Smoke’ and having made the move to leafy Surrey.

Anyway, I digress.

Deer Hunting Thermal imageAfter an enjoyable drive in the dark, with no-one driving in the middle lane on the M3! I arrived in good time, with twilight still a good 20-30 minutes away. This allowed me time to prepare my kit and after attaching the binoculars to the harness, further time to switch on my newly acquired thermal imager, which had been tested extensively on the dog the night before!

Left: Fallow deer visible through the equipment. 

Before climbing the gate into my allocated zone-3, I decided to cross the little stone- bridge just to scan zone-1 and the small part of zone-2 that was visible. There were no visible heat signatures, so I continued into my allocated zone for the morning and after the gate, checked the wind direction, which was perfect, so I started the stalk, aiming to get to the edge of the nearby wood a good 20 minutes before first light.

Every few metres, I know over the top - but it was a new toy, and I had the time, I scanned the land and the wood. As I neared the wood, I came 'face (thermaly speaking) to face' with a Muntjac buck and a couple of does seemingly within touching distance.

Excitedly I quietly opened the shooting sticks, set the rifle and opened the scope caps, only to discover it was infinitely darker than I had originally thought – the thermal gave the illusion the buck was there for all to see, yet, I saw nothing through the rifle scope and despite waiting for what seemed like an age and repeatedly scanning with the thermal, the visibility did not improve, leaving me with no safe shot. So, like all good stalkers I dithered, and after a couple of minutes, there was a bark, and the opportunity was lost as a quick scan revealed the Muntjac scampering away into the field next door, leaving me to wonder if technology was in fact the enabler I had imagined, or if indeed, if it had just got my hopes up unnecessarily.

My overriding thought was there would be a next time, but on another day.

P Osborne 2 1

Above: Having spotted it through the thermal imager, success with the thermal equipment results in a Fallow Prickett

Indeed, there was. Very soon after, during a follow up visit to the club grounds, I was able to put the thermal to better use, and on this occasion, my thermal device was just the enabler that I needed to ensure a successful shot on a Fallow Prickett.

Now we wait for November 01st, more sociable hours and the opening of the season for females.

If you have your own rifle and would like to get out deer stalking, then the Capreolus Club Plus scheme could be for you. Please follow this link to learn more about the benefits of club membership: membership-benefits

To learn more about thermal equipment and night vision, click here: night-vision-vs-thermal

To read more from Peter and his experience of the PDS1 Deer Stalking Certificate, click here: teaching-an-old-dog-new-tricks

If you’d like to book deer stalking, or would like to learn how to hunt, contact County Deer Stalking, on 0203 981 0159 or email; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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