Heat seeking red

The Pulsar Thermal made locating this hind easy

As the sun finally sank close to the horizon after a long hot summer’s day, the deer were starting to move. Unbeknown to them, so was I. Cautiously, I picked my way through the windfall and along a rough farm road. The wind was moving fast and swirling in every direction so I knew the deer would be skittish and hard to get close to. This was definitely the case, as I spooked deer after deer along the track. Despite how slow and quiet I was, they seemed to catch wind of me long before I got a glimpse of one.

I kept trekking and made it to the glassing spot, a big grassy basin with a small stream running through it. With good food, shelter, and water, it was a honey hole for deer.

Just like most times before, I peered into the opening and saw a mob of fallow feeding amongst the vibrant foxgloves. Undetected, I sat and photographed them before a strong wind gust shot passed me towards the deer. They were already on edge so as soon as they got a whiff of me, they were off, gracefully bouncing into the trees.

Fallow hind and Bambi on the feed

Time was running out but all hope was not lost, as Dad came over the radio, alerting me to some deer feeding in the open not far from me. I raced out of sight and down towards the deer, just in time to see them moving towards Dad’s blind, where he sat clueless as to where they had gone (Ed’s note: “Funny, that’s not how I remember it!”). I told him to sit tight and get ready to take a shot when they appeared. At that moment, silence fell over the farm… Bang! The shot echoed up the valley and the deer scattered. After some deliberation, we concluded it was a miss.

Moving quickly, I headed towards Dad to console him when, out of the corner of my eye, I spied a group of skittish red deer exiting the area, 155 metres away. With no time to waste, I rested on the nearest log and placed the crosshairs behind the shoulder of a large red. In the final seconds of shooting light, I squeezed the trigger. The hind kicked out her front legs, an indication of a heart shot, then vanished into the bush.

By the time we arrived to where the deer had been standing, it was dark and we struggled to pick up a blood trail under the light of our head torches.

To save some time, I pulled out my Pulsar AXION XQ38 thermal imager and scanned the area. Usually used for spotting animals, my thermal picked up a path of hot blood on the ground leading me 40 metres into the bush where I spotted a bright heat signature in some scrub.

Upon inspection, I found my red deer dead, victim of a .223 bullet to the top of the heart.

Despite being an older model thermal, I was super impressed with its ability to pick up small patches of blood and it saved me a lot of time blindly stumbling through the bush.

Oh, and to Dad, it’s a good thing one of us knows how to shoot.

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