Night Hunt Much?
Posted 25 September 2012 - 08:51 AM
Through the years I'd almost always plan my hunts around the new moon, my favorite time to hunt at night. Partial moonlit nights can be okay as well but I prefer dark. Always been that way. When you drive over 500 miles round trip it's nice to be able to get in a lot of hunting. Hunting at night gives you a lot more hunting time. Night hunting is a different deal than daytime, in some cases it's tougher and in others it's easier. Since you usually hunt right from the truck you can make more stands then you would in the day. Eyes stand out, so just about anything you call you are going to see. Most predators hunt at night so quite often you'll see more stuff at night. Also if you’re after Bobcats it's usually more productive since cats are on the move at night...and they’re much easier to spot since their big ol eyes give them away every time. Watching a set of eyes come in at night is really something. Obviously it has potential to be a bit more dangerous as well. Got to make sure of your surroundings, where your gun is pointed and always i.d. your target.
The main tool for night hunting is the light. It's what you are hunting with. Thru the years I've used most of the different brands. Some worked great and gave years of great service while others were a complete waste of money. There was usually something I didn't like with all of them and wished they would be better in a certain area. So...I built my own. It's based on a design that's been used by various clubs in Calif. for years. I’ve never personally seen one, but have read about them.
It utilizes a low amperage flood light that throws a nice wide and even soft light for picking up eyes. It’s also easy on the battery. On a dark night you can pick up eyes approx 250-300 yards out, maybe a bit further? Flip the switch and it turns on the tight focused burn light, usually a 50 - 100 watt spot. You can see and i.d. any animal in realistic range at night with this light. I prefer this design over the flipper style light because of one reason...the flood light. It covers a lot of ground with a nice soft light. A regular spotlight doesn't do that even with it on a dimmer. I like looking for eyes with as little light as I can get away with. With a bright light you get a lot of bounce back from nearby trees, bushes and rocks.
Here's a photo of the light I built. These are pics of the prototype as I was building it.
I wanted to keep the light lightweight. A heavy light gets tiring real quick. The housing was made from thin gauge aircraft aluminum. It holds a couple PAR36 12v bulbs. The handle I used is from an old 5 dollar wrist rocket. I’ve slightly changed the design to utilize a different handle that mount slightly different. The new handle can be bought for about 5 bucks. I'd say just by feel this light weighs pretty close to my Lightforce170 equipped with a rolled aluminum shroud.
It uses a 20a SPDT toggle switch I picked up from Radio Shack. The switch works out okay but I'd like to try a few others. It also uses a Radio Shack power cord.
The light utilizes PAR36 sealed 12v bulbs. These bulbs can be purchased online and are relatively inexpensive. Most bulbs I bought were right about 8-10 bucks.
A nice feature for Calif guys and some of the goofy laws they deal with, you can purchase a couple 6v PAR36 bulbs, a switch and be compliant. Again, bulbs are relatively inexpensive so there is a lot of adjustability available for little money.
One feature I wanted was to be able to quickly change bulbs or make repairs in the field with little effort. This allows a lot of adjustability. Say you are hunting a pretty bright 1/2 moon night and need more light to spot eyes. Or maybe a really dark night that requires very little light...or you just burn out a bulb. With this light it takes me maybe about a couple minutes to change one out if I need to. Pull back the velcro attached sheath, a few thumbscrews (I also swapped the light screws to thumb so no tools needed) swap bulb, attach sheath. done. For now it works but I'm in the stage of making an aluminum clamshell back in place of the vinyl. It will be easily removed as well by a few thumb screws or clips.
Another nice thing using sealed PAR36 "glass" bulbs is if you want to paint it red, go right ahead. If you want to remove the red or apply a new coat spray on some brake cleaner...comes right off and doesn't mar the glass...can't do that with most plastic spotlights. Once it's painted red it's not coming off. If you spray most spotlight plastic lens' (Lightforce, Qbeam) with brake cleaner or anything that will remove Dykem, it will destroy it.
I own a couple Lightforce LF170's and a 240...really nice lights. A nice combo is a LF170 hooked to a dimmer but that’s a pretty big investment as well.
IMO, night hunting done correctly can be more productive than day hunting. In some respects it’s easier since you are hunting from the vehicle or right next to the vehicle, so people with mobility issues can get in a lot more hunting. It’s definitely better for bobcats and beside that it’s just fun.
Posted 25 September 2012 - 11:39 AM
Being in my golden years (almost 65), it is increasingly more difficult to do a lot of physical "stuff", and going without sleep at night only makes it more difficult & miserable / not fun, without that sleep... again, for "me".
While I did a couple of night hunts or so back in my late teens / early twenties(?), & obviously knowing little to nothing about it, I would "guess" it may (or may not) take at least a little more skill than day time hunting. Which is cool, but not something I would want to take on, again, due to age & little sleep. Something about teaching an old dog new tricks I reckon?!
Anyway, I guess eating and sleeping are the 2 things I do best, and night hunting sorta gets in the way of that. LOL
Posted 25 September 2012 - 12:18 PM
A great post there Ed. I certainly don't have the night hunting experience you have, but in the ten years I've been doing it I have seen some of the same things. I've used all the same lights you have (Optronics, Qbeam, Light Force). I also have the 170 and 240, and I really like the 240 white light rigged with a dimmer reostat. I have found that when reaching for that reostat knob to burn the animal, there can be a fair amount of fumbling that can occur trying to locate the knob, but for the most part it's a great calling rig.
Having the switch on your light right there is a huge advantage. Having hunted under the light several times now, I can say it is a better rig than the 240 reostat. I think you have a winner there.
Having nighted a fair piece, here's a few things I've noticed.
If you kill an animal, take a minute and figure out where you dropped it. Light up the terrain around it and take some land marks. I use the position of the truck as a clock. The hood is twelve and the tailgate is six. Get a general idea of where the animal is and make a note of it before you continue calling.
I agree with Ed. Cats are far easier to hunt at night than during the day. They are easier to spot and can often just show up close. Their big old eyes are like headlights and it's beyond a thrill to watch them bounce on in.
I feel that coyotes are tougher to hunt at night than during the day, just a bit. During the day they can be spotted racing in from hundreds of yards out and you can stay on them. That all changes at night. You may spot them way out there, but frequently you lose the eye shine as they circle your wind. They may only give you a split second shot when they do reappear. Regardless of it's difficulty, it is also a blast when you so those eyes floating over the terrain.
Lastly, if you've never hunted at night under a red light and want to, do yourself a favor and look through the scope while a red light is shining. It is very different than day hunting. The red color washes everything out and makes animals super tough to see. Lots of times you won't see eye shine if they aren't looking right at you. That means you have to pick out the red colored animal, in and amongst the other red colored objects, and it is a lot harder than it sounds. It takes practice and to be honest, I prefer hunting under a white light.
Anyway, my two cents.
Posted 25 September 2012 - 12:25 PM
The nice thing about night hunting is, if you plan on camping or spending the night and hunt again the next day you can head out and make a few stands once the sun goes down. My dad is 12 years older than you...but he'll still go out and make a few stands with us on a camping trip as long as it's not too much trouble.
Posted 25 September 2012 - 12:53 PM
Tim (Switch) hit on a couple good points. Marking animals. Depending on the terrain, sometimes it can be tough to find the downed critter. It's the light guys job to direct the shooter to the spot. Most of the time we'll keep calling after one is down. Just like daytime it's real common to call in multiples. If I had an animal drop in a tough to remember spot I'd usually just go get em, but sometimes I'd use a magnetic based flashlight, stick it to the truck and aim it to the spot, then turn it off and keep calling. It worked. I've heard of guys using laser pointers to mark downed critters so they could keep calling. Good idea.
Another one. Red light. I've shot a bunch of stuff under a red light. Sometimes it's no problem, but other times like if the critter isn't looking at you and showing it's eyes it can be tough to orient yourself for a shot...everything looks red. The toughest part for me is if you are running the light. A bobcat comes in and sits down 75 yards out. That is usually a dead cat. But it starts wandering off without looking at the light. Unless the cat is standing on featureless ground you will have a tough time lighting it up unless it gives you it's eyes again. With a bright burn light that is usually not a problem.
Coyotes usually require a bit more work. A couple guys that know what they are doing will get more at night usually...but it takes a bit more skill cause as Tim said, they usually head downwind. You usually don't have as much time on coyotes as you do other critters.
Posted 25 September 2012 - 01:06 PM
Posted 25 September 2012 - 01:22 PM
Frank all you need is a few 5 hour energys and you will be good to go, even for an old guy.
Posted 25 September 2012 - 04:27 PM
Posted 25 September 2012 - 05:39 PM
Posted 25 September 2012 - 08:35 PM
Posted 25 September 2012 - 09:35 PM
Posted 26 September 2012 - 07:52 AM
Posted 26 September 2012 - 08:31 AM
The whole 9v thing is a convoluted mess IMO. There are county ordinances and other laws you need to know before just pulling out a 6v light and thinking you are good to go. To be honest, in regard to private property, I think if you read the regs if you have written permission from the land owner light size doesn't matter. Anyway, as I said...one of the nice things about my light is I can swap it to 6v for about 25 bucks and be compliant for most areas.
I've done plenty of solo night hunting. It doesn't require two people although having a good partner can make it more productive. Calling and lighting is a one man deal...it's once the shooting begins and finding downed critters where a partner really helps. I've had nights that I did pretty well solo but it is quite a bit easier with a partner.
Yeah, the whole dark to midnight then 3 to sunrise has been floating around for awhile. The thing about it is...you never know when they are moving. If it's hot a lot of times all night is good...especially the latter half. I think other things have more an effect then the time of night. I will say that sometimes you don't see anything...just like daytime. After a long night calling all you have to show for it are bloodshot eyeballs lol.
Posted 26 September 2012 - 06:43 PM
Posted 26 September 2012 - 08:36 PM
"Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress.. But I repeat myself."--Mark Twain
Posted 26 September 2012 - 10:10 PM
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