... early in my hunting career, this would have been my answer to the question whether I could imagine hunting wild boar at night. “If I can’t see anything, let alone sight in, I don’t go hunting. I’m just causing unnecessary disturbance in the forest,” was my explanation. I wanted to hunt deer and hunting wild boar at night was a non-issue for me.
It was a non-issue until November in my second year of hunting, when a keen boar hunter took me along to his hunting ground. On nights when the moon was full, he gradually introduced me to boar hunting in woods and fields and taught me everything he knew about managing and hunting wild boar. He taught me when and where to find wild boar, what they graze on and where, how to get to the hide quietly without disturbing them, and how to approach a foraging herd.
So lernte ich die Nachtjagd nach und nach schätzen und konnte noch im selben Winter meine erste Wildsau in einer Bilderbuchnacht mit Vollmond und geschlossener Schneedecke im Feld aus einer Rotte erlegen.
Since this great experience, I have developed a real passion for night hunting, something I never imagined would happen. I didn’t only want to hunt when the moon was full, but also when the light was less good, when the crafty old boars emerge. The ones who avoid the moonlight in open spaces. I went night hunting more often and had more and more success.
Then one night I reached my limits. Although I was able to get within 30 meters (100 feet) of a herd foraging in a meadow, I couldn’t get a clear view through my rifle scope and there was no chance of sighting-in. It was simply too dark. At the same time, there was a lot of pressure to reduce the damage to agricultural land caused by the wild boars. This pressure was too high to return to hunting only during the full moon.
In 2022 I began using the tM 35 thermal imaging device from SWAROVSKI OPTIK, and now I enjoy my nights out hunting wild boar more than ever. The tM 35 has made night hunting easier for me again. Not because it’s easier to have a successful hunt, that’s not actually the case. But because it has made hunting more authentic for me. It has stripped it back to the essentials without any loss of effectiveness.
I am particularly impressed by the simple, minimalist operation of the device, as well as its versatility. All the important settings, such as brightness, color modes, and display size, can be operated at the touch of a button. By eliminating any unnecessary functions, the product is very easy to use, because nearly every function has its own button on the device. These are arranged so conveniently that they are right under your fingers when holding it.
For hunting at night, this intuitive handling is important, because I often need to be able to operate the device very quickly in the dark. On top of this, the display always shows a sharp image. It is mounted on the rifle scope and shows the same sharp image.
So, nowadays for night hunting, I only have to carry one device. I can use it handheld to observe game and mounted on the rifle scope with a single motion so that I can get a clean shot at the right animal in line with hunting regulations. The tM 35 – both as an observation device and as a thermal imaging clip-on device – is ideal for me when night hunting.
Overall, this allowed me to cut down the number of devices in my hunting backpack. Now I just have my rifle with a Z8i 2-16x50 P scope, a strong stalking stick, my EL Range 8x42 binoculars, a sharp hunting knife, and a wind checker with baby powder.
At night, I often hunt for hours at a time, so having a thermal imaging device with plenty of battery power is vital. With the tM 35 I can take spare batteries with me on the hunt, but the energy-saving SWAROLIGHT system also switches off the device as soon as I place the rifle with the mounted device in the holder or lay it on the rail of the hunting stand. Likewise, the SWAROLIGHT function automatically turns the device back on as soon as I change the angle of the device, such as by taking aim. This feature is extremely effective and energy efficient, allowing me to have a great night’s hunting with just one or two batteries.
Overall, the tM 35 has been a real asset for me for night hunting. It allows me to hunt effectively and ethically and reduces the technical equipment I need for night hunting to a single, handy piece of equipment.
The image quality makes it possible to see an incredible amount of detail on the game and it is a pleasure to use the device to check every rustle, no matter how small, at the edge of the forest by simply looking into the darkness. Hunting with this combined device finally allows me to be the night hunter that I never thought I wanted to be.
Tobias Westen is a professional photographer and videographer who runs a media company in Aargau, Switzerland. His job involves hunting with his camera for the perfect shot and telling fascinating stories for company features and advertising films. In his private life he is a passionate night hunter and dog handler. He enjoys driven hunts with his Schwyz hound Hugo. The pair hunt wild boar together, either accompanied or from the hide.