Night Vision Preparation - 5 Top Tips

Realtree Pro staff hunting expert and night vision specialist Paul Hodson takes us through his Top 5 Tips for Night Vision Preparation.

Before you even think about going shooting with night vision, you’ll need to do your homework. It’s not about going into a field, scanning the land and simply shooting a fox. If you’re lucky enough to have been given permission to shoot over a farmer’s field, who’s the best person to tell you where the foxes are?

Top Tip 1: Communicate with the farmer.

The farmer is the person in the know.  He is around his land at all hours. He can tell you where the foxes’ earths are situated. Don’t be afraid to get as much information as possible from the farmer – he is your ally. 

Know the lie of the land. The farmer has told you where he has seen the foxes, but you’re going to be shooting at night.

Get to know the land you will be shooting on – ideally in the day light

Top Tip 2: Visit the land in the daytime.

Walk it, know your backstops. Safety is paramount. You need to be aware of potential issues  such as roads and other public rights of way, buildings, livestock (how many times have you seen a pair of eyes at night, and it turns out to be a sheep?), domestic pets (especially cats), or the farmer himself checking his stock at night. 

Look for tell-tale signs of fox activity. Well-used pathways, holes in fences, fox scent (that musky sweet smell), fox scat, or even feathers and bones from the fox’s unlucky victims.

When you’ve worked out where the foxes are, and the pathways they are using, think about the positioning of your truck. Using night vision is different from lamping. We’re not searching for foxes, we’re ambushing them.

Keep a look out for paths and tracks regularly used by foxes.

Top Tip 3: Think about vehicle position.

Make sure that all angles are covered with the way you’ve parked your truck. Try to park close to hedgerows, trees, or a feature in the field. You will be surprised how your truck blends in at night.  Even vehicles with bright paintwork or chrome bumpers and mirrors blend in and disappear at night.  When retrieving a shot fox, you will be surprised how many times you will need your torch to locate your vehicle. 

The use of a laser range finder is an asset to the night vision shooter. If you haven’t got access to a range finder, refer to Tip 2, and walk your distances.  At night, it is very difficult, especially through night vision, to estimate distance.  Use geographical features to measure the relative distances and from this you’ll be able to work out what is a possible shot with the limitation of the shooting equipment that you are using.

Finding the ideal location for your vehicle is also a bonus.

Top Tip 4: Know your distances.

If you’re not experienced at estimating distance, don’t be afraid to pace out various distances in your day to day activities – play a game with yourself, estimate the distance between, for instance, parked cars or lamp posts, and then pace them out (an adult stride is approximately one yard).  You may be surprised by your original estimates.  Distances can be deceptive. 

With night vision, foxes do not know your positioning. The only hint they get that you are there is the dull red glow of the infrared illuminator, but you’re more likely to give yourself away in ways you might not expect.

Additional equipment, such as the Laser Rangefinder Scout DX 1000 ARC and the Eschenbach Bison 8x42 binoculars are perfect for the job in hand.   

Eschenbach Bison binoculars and Bushnell laser range finder.

Top Tip 5: Think like a fox’s prey.

Imagine you don’t want to be caught. At night, it’s not about the visual.

Foxes have good eyesight, but their sense of smell is even better. Don’t go foxing smothered in aftershave (you’re unlikely to meet any tottie while you’re out in the middle of a field!).  Avoid spicy foods (garlic is potent stuff – let’s face it, they use it to ward off vampires). The artificial scent from car air-fresheners on warm still summer nights can travel long distances.

Rabbits are just one victim that fall into a foxes diet.

The other superior sense the fox has in its armoury is its hearing. Think about what you’re wearing – avoid squeaky footwear, or clothing materials which rustle. Some waxed jackets can produce a noise which seems amplified at night, when the sleeves move against the coat. (Deerhunter clothing is ideal.) Ensure the platform from which you are shooting is sturdy and sound-proofed (use rubber matting or similar on touching surfaces), and everything you need is to hand so that you don’t have to clunk around opening vehicle doors, or ask your shooting partner to search for some important item.

The Results of good preparation…

Having followed all of the above, you’ll now be in a position to consider other aspects of your preparation.  These will be discussed in future articles.

To view some additional night vision atricles from Nite Site check out the links below: 

Night Vision Hunting - Three Foxes One Night!

Night Vision Pest Control.

Realtree Partner With Nite Site.