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Technology On the Hunt

FLIR BosonTM Thermal Core is the power behind the remarkable performance of FLIR’s latest generation of thermal handheld imagers and scopes for hunters

Manufacturers of hunting gear are constantly releasing new products, often marketed with references to new technologies that will outperform everything else in their category. Sometimes these marketing claims are true. Other times, they fail to deliver on the hype.

As a series, Technology On the Hunt highlights unique new technologies that offer real benefits for hunters in the field.

Thermal Applications for Hunters

Hunters and outdoors enthusiasts have been seeing and hearing a lot about thermal-imaging monoculars and weapon sights lately – especially over the past two years. These unique optics use heat instead of light to create detailed live images in any lighting conditions. They even “see” through mist, light fog and other environmental obscurants.

Of particular interest to predator hunters, varmint hunters and hog eradication enthusiasts who may lawfully hunt at night (check your local hunting regulations), thermal optics – be they handheld models or weapon-mounted targeting systems – give hunters an advantage by allowing them to spot incoming animals in complete darkness. But thermal handheld devices provide additional benefits to all manner of hunters.

Hunters routinely travel to and from their hunting locations in the dark. Depending on where they’re at and what they’re hunting, this travel can present a variety of challenges, even threats. Carrying a handheld thermal imager creates an increased situational awareness that helps hunters overcome these challenges and threats by allowing them to navigate without artificial illumination that can spook game. It allows deer hunters to see animals that may be out feeding in the fields, and provides the opportunity to take an alternate route to their stand that avoids alerting or bumping those animals. In areas where concentrations of dangerous predators exist, a handheld thermal imager dramatically increases a hunter’s safety by allowing them to spot and avoid bears, cougars, coyotes, wolves and hogs before they are detected.

Thermal imagers provide critical conservation benefits as well. Every experienced hunter has at least one personal story about an animal they were never able to recover. Game animals are often harvested during the waning minutes of legal shooting light, which requires tracking in the dark. Rain showers pop up at inopportune times, eliminating blood trails. Handheld thermal imagers have proven themselves as effective tools that help hunters find and recover downed game faster and easier.

Increasing Capability and Falling Prices

While hunters have become increasingly educated about the various benefits of thermal imaging in the field, many have foregone the purchase of thermal equipment due to the expense. The Germanium used in the objective lenses of thermal-imaging optics is, indeed, expensive. Like almost any technology, however, thermal-imaging performance capabilities have increased over time, while costs have trended down. Now is the time to purchase a thermal handheld imager or riflescope, but not all such products are created equal.

Small Size, Big Performance

FLIR Systems, Inc. has been a global leader in thermal-imaging technology since the late 1970’s. Offering one the most complete lines of thermal imaging products across multiple consumer, professional and government markets, FLIR also makes its technology available to original equipment manufacturers (OEM).

FLIR’s latest BosonTM longwave infrared (LWIR) thermal camera core sets a new standard for size, weight, power and performance. It is used in numerous industrial, professional and consumer-grade thermal imaging products, and is the brain – if not the very soul – of FLIR’s newest ThermoSight Pro thermal weapon sights and its new Breach multifunctional thermal-imaging monocular.

Its remarkable imaging performance begins with Boson’s 12µm pitch vanadium oxide (VOx) uncooled 320x256-resolution detector. FLIR’s expandable infrared video processing architecture gives Boson advanced image processing, video analytics, peripheral sensor drivers, and several industry-standard communication interfaces that make it easy to integrate while keeping power consumption low. The ultimate result is smaller, lighter optics that do not compromise image performance or range.

Best of all for hunters and outdoor enthusiasts, these unprecedented levels of performance and functionality come at a remarkably low price. Available in 19 mm, 50 mm and 75 mm models, FLIR’s new ThermoSight Pro PTS Series weapon sights start at $2,199, while the incredibly compact and versatile Breach handheld thermal monocular has an MSRP of just $2,495.

Each Boson-based product family offers digital zoom, multiple lens options (ThermoSight Pro), and features vivid, high-definition 1080p color displays. Additional common features for all models include user controlled imaging palettes and image enhancement filters, onboard recording of video and JPEG images, digital compass, digital inclinometer and patent-pending high-visibility iconology and graphic overlays. Breach and ThermoSight Pro models also offer USB-C connectivity.

Whether you hunt predators or hogs, the technology behind today’s thermal riflescopes has never been better or more affordable. The same is true of thermal handhelds. These versatile devices offer anyone who spends time in the outdoors with powerful situational awareness that can save lives, save hunts and help hunters find their downed game.

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