Last month, South Carolina became the latest state to give tactical hog hunters another option, when South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signed into law a bill that now allows the night hunting of wild hogs (and coyotes).
But when hunters hear the terms “night hunting” and “tactical,” a lot of them assume it’s a $10,000 Night Vision scope a Navy SEAL might use on a dangerous night op—or nothing.
Not true! Actually, as I discovered in Texas earlier this year, a tactical hog hunter can do very well with a LED light that attaches onto a rifle’s rail, and costs under $200.
This past April, I was in East Texas hunting hogs in Shelby and San Augustine Counties in conjunction with the Wild Hog Roundup sponsored by Wulf Outdoors Sports of Center, Texas. Temperatures were in the mid-80’s and it was very muggy. If I was going to up my chances on putting some pigs on the ground, I soon realized, I was going to have to add some tactical night hunting to my repertoire.
The good folks at Wulf Outdoors came to my assistance, suggesting I try out a Nite Hunter Varmint rifle-mounted lighting system, Model NHV-001, a 160-lumens green LED light that mounts onto your optic or your rifle. Using two different AR-style rifles, I mounted the light on the Picatinny rail beneath the barrel.
I was surprised at how well the Nite Hunter Varmint worked. Out to 125 yards or better, I had no problem picking up wildlife, from rabbits and armadillos to hogs. Hog eyes were reflected at a much larger range–200 yards or better. It’s lightweight, attaches easily, and is ready at the flick of a switch.
On the second night using the Nite Hunter Varmint, I took a 200-pound boar while hiking back to camp. The boar was feeding alongside the logging road, and I caught the gleam of his eyes in the green light. Initially, he faced me, head down as he foraged some 70 yards ahead, unaffected by the green light shining in his eyes. Then he turned broadside and I fired, taking him down with a single shot from my ArmaLite AR-10(T) in .308 Winchester.
This was my first time using a green night light. The most important thing I took away from the experience was this: use a top-quality scope. That first night, for example, I hunted with a red/green dot optic mounted on my rifle. It worked fine during the day, as I proved on the shooting range. But something about the green night light created an opaque reflection in this optic that limited my vision to maybe 40 yards.
The next night, I topped my rifle with what has since become my favorite optic for tactical hog hunting optics, a Leupold VX-R Hog 1.5-4x20mm scope. The difference was night and day. My vision had been cloudy to non-existent with the red/green dot. With the Nite hunter and the VX-R Hog, I now saw individual bushes, the edges of trails, and the head and body of that black boar feeding on the road.
The only problem I had with the Nite Hunter was a reflection caused by some vegetation. I started each night’s hunt from a deer stand, and some pine boughs that stood well below the shooting window reflected back enough green light to create a glare off my scope. Once I cut back the boughs, I saw just fine.
But Ernie Wynn, owner of Nite Hunter Illumination Systems, was already at work on this potential problem. I contacted him after my hunt, and Wynn had not only heard of similar problems—he had a solution.
“We just recently added an extender tube on that screws onto the front of the light head in place of the striker bezel,” Wynn explains. “This helps to eliminate the close range obstructions you mention, as well as helping get past large front ramps on certain rifle configurations when mounted on a scope.”
He adds, “We work very hard to listen to our customers and improve the product, while still making it affordable to the average hunter.”
The Nite Hunter Varmint comes with an on/off tail cap clicker, a pressure switch, a rechargeable battery and charger, and a 1″ scope mount, a 30mm scope mount and a Picatinny rail mount, plus the necessary Allen wrenches to attach the mounts. The battery life is rated at seven-plus hours with a full charge. Because the light is an LED, it works well in cold weather, too.
For tactical crossbow hunters, there’s also a Nite Hunter Archery Lighting System available.
Says Wynn, “The big challenge we have at this moment with the crossbow industry is that there is little standardization on the riser of a crossbow. Our bracket will work with some crossbows if mounted on the quiver mount location–again, dependent on the configuration and orientation of the quiver. Also, some of the crossbows have a rail on them, and that makes it very easy as our archery system includes a rail mount.”
The Nite Hunter is a great product for tactical hog hunters, one that can extend our time afield, and make life really hard on those nocturnal hogs.
On the Web:
Nite Hunter Illumination Systems:
Leupold VX-R Hog:
Wulf Outdoor Sports: