By Daryk Ganske
That time between the end of turkey or spring bear season and the first elk bugle of the fall can feel like a lifetime. So I need something to help with that off-season withdrawal.
I just like being out in the woods. If I could do it every day I probably would. But like so many hunters life tends to get in the way, so I can’t be out there as much as I’d like. So when I do make it out there, hunting is what I want to do.
Scouting and land prep only seems to do so much. Hunting is really the only way I’m going to scratch that itch. So naturally, here in Texas, it’s been hogs a lot of ’em.
The Lone Star State is basically under siege by rooting, stinking, disease-ridden feral hogs. Every day more acreage is destroyed, turkey nests get raided, and fawns or even pets are harassed, if not killed, by the pigs. Like most hunters down here, I turned to semi-automatic rifles to help take care of the issue as best I could on my lease in West Texas. But I knew I needed to take one more step to make the most out of it.
I needed to start using thermal imaging.
It was the new FLIR PTS223 ThermoSight Pro that helped me break through.
I ran this scope on my custom AR I’ve started to call “The Hog Hammer.” It’s a 7.62×39 platform built by The Heart of Texas Armory in Bryan, Texas. I’m proud of it, and mounting the PTS223 sight not only makes it look a hell of a lot cooler, it got me super excited to get out there and send more piggies to hog heaven.
I used a box blind for my first time out with the sight and was instantly pleased with the huge difference in hunting in daytime versus nighttime temperatures. Anyone who’s spent some time in Texas between June and October knows the state boils during the summer, and having the ability to hunt after dark when the hogs are active and the temperatures are reasonable is a huge plus.
During this time of year all kinds of animals choose to go nocturnal due to the intensity of the heat, and pigs are no exception. That’s why I was so stoked to try out the FLIR PTS223.
The FLIR PTS223 didn’t just do its job at night, but helped me find my target at lightning speeds. When I was in “outdoor alert” mode, the animals basically lit up the screen. It almost seemed too easy to pick them out. The adjustable contrast allowed me to roll through the ranch and scan multiple areas quickly, trying to pick out anything that might be lurking in the shadows.
These deer were easy to identify.
Adapting to Thermal Technology
I’ll admit, getting used to using a thermal scope has taken a little time and effort. The difference between looking at a screen’s digital display versus a magnified optic caught me off guard at first, or at least more so than I anticipated.
In retrospect, there wasn’t much I had to change, though. I still needed to align the crosshairs on the target and pull the trigger. It was more a matter of training my eye to become comfortable with the contrasted images I was peering at.
I loved the fact that you could pick out almost every observable object, not just large hogs. While we were riding through the property in pitch darkness on side-by-side, I was able to see a jackrabbit at about 100 yards out, giving me a good sense of the scope’s overall range.
I could watch the trees fill up with heat during the day, and even observe the warm power lines overhead. A piece of equipment like this thermal sight really shouldn’t have taken so long to find its place atop The Hog Hammer.
It’s just too easy to use. The first time you see a big orange illuminated pig run into the screen’s field of view, you’ll get what I’m talking about.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that thermal hunting made going after hogs 10 times more fun. I knew I needed to find something to curb my offseason need for the woods, and this is going to really help maintain the dosage.
It was almost funny at first; I was either chuckling quietly to myself or literally laughing out loud each time I was able to point out any animal with a heat signature.
There’s almost no good reason not to start hunting hogs at night, as long as your local wildlife agency allows it.
Heck, Texas doesn’t even require a license to hunt hogs anymore. Granted, there’s a financial hurdle to navigate for a sight like this, but if you live in a hog-rich environment like I do, you’ll have no trouble getting plenty of use out of it. Now that I’ve addressed the yearning to get out and hunt in a more comfortable and strategic way, I’m a full-on believer and dedicated thermal scope user.