Best Vehicle Mounted Thermal Camera for Deer

Great Uses of a Thermal Camera for Deer

Before anyone gets too bothered by the phrase “thermal camera for deer”, let’s clear something up. No, this article isn’t about using a thermal camera for hunting deer. That would require a thermal image scope and would be very illegal. When we say thermal camera for deer, we’re talking about other situations where it is helpful to see deer at night. For the purposes of this discussion, we’re also talking about vehicle mounted thermal cameras. Essentially, you quickly and easily mount a camera to your vehicle roof or hood. The video is transmitted to your phone or tablet via a Wi-Fi connection, which you can also mount on your dash.

Thermal Camera Uses for Deer

For deer hunters, it’s easy to think of several uses for a thermal camera (again, within the realm of what’s legal). Hunting is, after all, a game between predator and prey. So when you can see in the dark, like a real predator, it’s a major game changer. We’ll discuss some of those uses briefly here, but there are some much more practical uses to non-hunters too.

  • Deer Protection – one of the most practical uses we can think of for our NightRide cameras is helping you drive safely on back roads or in remote areas. It only takes a few seconds for a deer to run out into the road at the wrong time, and you’re going to have to quickly brush up on your auto insurance policy. Sure, there are a few deer protection measures you can take, such as installing brush guards or slowing down/driving defensively. But if you can spot a deer on the side of the road before it’s too late to react, you can probably avoid an accident. Our cameras can detect that heat signature even when the deer is beyond the range of your headlights or if it’s standing off in the brush. Having a thermal camera for deer installed on your vehicle is a huge advantage.
  • Monitoring – if you have an ag field or food plot you’re interested in observing for deer activity, what better way than to use a thermal camera? When the deer come out at night – especially mature bucks – you would normally have to depend on them walking by your trail camera. But since our thermal cameras can spot body heat from up to ¼ mile away, you can monitor which deer are using it and take an inventory of possible hit-list bucks even on the blackest of nights. All from the comfort of your truck cab.
  • Scouting – when you show up at a farm to hunt in the very early morning hours, you have no idea what’s out on the field watching your every move. As you pull up, you could use a thermal camera for deer spotting so you know where the deer are congregating or if the field is empty. That will help you decide if you can walk straight across the field to your tree stand or if you need to take the long way around to avoid spooking them.
  • Deer Recovery – where legal, a thermal camera can be a huge help to recover deer after you’ve shot one. Since the camera relies on a heat signature, it works best if used as soon after shooting as possible, and it really excels when it is dark or foggy out or if rain has washed away your blood trail. That being said, some states don’t allow you to have a thermal camera for deer if you also have a firearm or bow in your possession, so make sure you know the regulations. 

How Thermal Imaging Works

Exactly how does thermal imaging work? There might be some confusion over night vision vs thermal image cameras. Basically, night vision cameras require the right kind of conditions to work well. There must be some kind of light (i.e., moonlight) and they won’t work well when it’s foggy or help you see through brush. Even in the right conditions, the picture still usually looks grainy and dark. 

A thermal camera for deer, however, is an infrared camera system that relies on heat signatures alone. That means it can “see” through brush, fences, fog, smoke, dust, etc. without requiring any light. Hot things (e.g., deer, pedestrians, etc.) show up as bright white, while cooler things register as darker images. It’s truly amazing how much a deer hidden on the side of the road (invisible to headlights) can suddenly pop out on a thermal camera image so clearly. After driving with a thermal camera for a while, you’ll start to miss it when you don’t use it!

Mounting a Thermal Camera to a Vehicle

Now you know how thermals cameras work and why they’re useful, so let’s move on to how you can mount a thermal camera to your vehicle. Depending on which NightRide product you get, the mounting process will be a little different. But either way, our cameras mount and install in just a few minutes, making it a seamless process for you.

  • SCOUT – our SCOUT camera lineup relies on a magnetic mount, which can quickly and easily attach to your vehicle rooftop. These cameras are powered through a power adaptor, and can be panned and tilted with a remote control from inside the vehicle. It streams the video to your phone or tablet via a Wi-Fi connection.
  • PRO – our PRO thermal camera attaches to your hood with a small, rubberized mounting bracket that won’t scratch or damage your paint. You can also pick up another hood mount to attach to a second vehicle, so you can swap your camera out in seconds. This camera is also compatible with popular GoPro mounts. This camera model is powered by connecting to your vehicle battery terminals.
  • PRO–SL – PRO-SL provides a distinct and discreet advantage – sensing heat signatures 1/4 mile down the road through dust, smoke, rain, snow or fog. Whether engaging in enforcement, search and rescue, firefighting or emergency management, NightRide PRO-SL provides critical seconds to prepare and react in any situation.
  • Sentinel – Sentinel Thermal Camera 384 x 288 – 13mm lens. With 360 degree panning, the Sentinel provides full situational awareness, even in complete darkness and severe weather, making it your all-seeing eye.

If you’re intrigued by the idea of seeing in the dark, the way a snake might spot a mouse in pure blackness, you’re not alone. It’s fascinating to see things that are hidden in the darkness, and a thermal camera for deer will do that to keep you safe.

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