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GameKeepers’ Guns: Thermal Technology

Leupold Tracker

Bobby Cole | Originally published in GameKeepers: Farming for Wildlife Magazine. To subscribe, click here.

I’m an old school kind of guy. I prefer the old way of doing things. I would rather watch the wind than use cover-up scents. Sometimes I don’t want to know every deer in the area because it would depress me to know if I don’t have a shooter. I like being surprised like I was in the good old days. 

With that said, I have been noticing thermal technology for years, some appear as if it were straight out of a Terminator movie. It’s very modern and I have wanted to try it. I’ve seen high-end thermal scopes that were thousands of dollars and no way I could justify purchasing. However, I have always been fascinated by their ability to see in the dark. Where I live we have a huge wild pig problem and this would be so useful. 

Then along comes Leupold with a hand-held unit for under $500. The VERY first time I hunted with one I quietly walked into the edge of a swampy area and climbed up a ladder stand in the dark. I couldn’t see to shoot when I started scanning the area with the Leupold unit. I immediately had a “red image” appear at about 125 yards. That surprised me…first scan! There it was. 

As dawn slowly broke I continued to see the red image slowly moving and as more daylight filtered in, I realized I was looking at a black pig that had fed in and bedded in a brush top prior to daylight. I probably would not have noticed this pig unless it moved, but there was no denying the thermal unit exposed his presence. He couldn’t hide from technology. 

The uses these units have are incredible. I think I tested a first generation unit and I’m told the LTO-Tracker 2 is even more impressive with many features. If you have read my column, you know that I have long trusted Leupold scopes. This isn’t a paid sponsorship. I am just trying to pass along information on products that I think gamekeepers would appreciate. We certainly aren’t advocating hunting in the dark, unless it’s for problems like pigs/varmints and it’s legal, but knowing what’s out there, that’s so beneficial. 

I would think a deer hunter could use this to scan a field before they walk across in the dark and spook everything. What about that poacher you suspect is crossing the property line in the darkness? Its biggest help may be in retrieving downed game. There is no doubt it will show you everything including the warm blood. This unit is a useful tool in the gamekeeper’s bag. I’d highly encourage you to check it out. 

Here is some pertinent information on the LTO-Tracker 2 (the latest unit).

The Leupold LTO-Tracker 2 is a powerful handheld thermal device.

  • Display Resolution: 240x204
  • Thermal Sensor: 206x156
  • Digital Zoom: 7x
  • Field of View: 14 degrees
  • Operating Temperature: -40 to 572
  • Weight: 7 ounces
  • Frame Rate: 30Hz
  • Detection Distance: 600 Yards
  • Color Palettes: 6
  • Battery Life: 10 Hours continuous use

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