My father-in-law had already told me “No,” but he didn’t know what he was saying “no” to. I grabbed his .22-250 bolt action rifle fitted with an inexpensive no-name 3-9×40 scope I ran to the closet in the guest room with the rifle in hand and pulled out the case for the Nitesite Eagle night vision system. There wasn’t much time so I quickly assembled the pieces and attached it to the scope.
I went to the front porch, turned on the system, stared at the screen and grinned. There was no way he was staying home.
I called for him to come to the porch and take a look at what was now mounted on his rifle. You could hear each of his steps as his 6’5” frame moved across the wooden floors of the house until he finally stepped onto the concrete porch. He took the unloaded rifle out of my hand and I watched him as he gazed across the highway at the church using the 3.5 inch LCD screen.
I don’t know for certain, but it was probably the same grin I had just 30 seconds before. We could both see the screen and we were looking at the trees that are west of the church that are just under 200 yards away and we could see EVERYTHING. It was if we were sitting on the porch in the rocking chairs in the middle of the day. Then he said it, “I’ll meet you at the truck.”
See, I had tinkered around with the NiteSite Eagle night vision system the last time I was at the farm and knew that if my father-in-law would just look at the screen, he would be in. It was kind of like the Sirens of Greek Mythology but instead of serenading sailors, the Eagle sang “Go hunting with Jared” to this farmer through the bright screen and he was just as entranced as those sailors.
About a month prior, NiteSite had sent us both an Eagle RTEK and a Wolf RTEK night vision system. Both systems came in identical, tough, water proof cases. Inside the case there are a handful of parts that include the LCD screen and illuminator module, lithium battery with battery charger (big plus), scope clamps with recoil in mind, the camera module and scope sleeves. I probably could have messed around with it and put this thing together, but figured I should read the instructions.
After I glanced over the instructions the assembly began and it was very simple. In no particular order, I used the scope clamps to attach LCD screen to scope, found the right size scope sleeve that fit the scope and then inserted camera module into scope sleeve, attached lithium battery to the rifle buttstock with the battery pouch provided and plugged in the different power and A/V cords. There was also a slot on the camera module where I slid the included mini SD card which allowed us to record the hunts. Boom! We went from day hunting to night hunting in a matter of minutes.
Just like that we were ready to go. That’s one of the things that I really liked about the NiteSite system. It attaches to my current daylight scope, so we didn’t need to go sight in. Not counting the battery, it did add about 1.5 pounds of weight, to the rifle. That’s not a bid deal, but something to keep that in mind. And while the battery pouch fit perfectly on the buttstock of the .22-250 bolt action, it wasn’t the easiest thing to fit onto my AR-15. And yes, I know, the whole system looks a bit goofy on whatever gun you attach it to, but you can’t really argue with results and pricing…
Getting used to the controls proved pretty easy. There were literally a total of 5 buttons or knobs on the system. On the camera module that looks through the scope I found the power button, focus wheel and the record button. On the LCD screen, there were two knobs. The short, fat one on top controlled the intensity of the IR illuminator. The long, skinny one below the screen allowed me to dim the screen if needed. This is great because I’ve used other devices that are similar (you look at a screen mounted to your gun), but they were very bright and difficult to dim. Having the ability to completely dim the screen or turn it up all the way without having to go through a menu or turn the system on or off was a big plus. Now, back to your regularly scheduled program…
As my father-in-law made his way to the truck, I ran back into the guest room and threw the NiteSite Wolf RTEK night vision system on my 1-4 Vortex scope mounted to my AR-15. We got in the truck and drove a mile and half east on the highway, turning on the 2nd country road.
To my right was a field that we hunted Labor Day weekend and we had a feeling there might be a pig or two or ten in the field. We stopped at the tree line which was only a 175 yards from the highway, I powered up the NiteSite Wolf on my rifle and looked out my window. There’s a lone boar right there!
I don’t know how the truck didn’t spook him but I got out and the pig was about 50 yards from me. I had to be quiet as I stepped over the electric fence onto the property. The pig was now about 40 yards away and I was giddy watching the big boar through the screen.
It was like I was playing a video game as I watched my enemy unknowingly walk into the kill zone on my screen. I had a hard time finding my reticle on the screen so I turned on the illuminated reticle to see if it would help. It did, but it made the reticle somewhat fuzzy.
The hog started to get suspicious and I sent a 55 grain .223 round his way and for a hit. He scrambled to my right as I took another shot and score another hit. He ran away from me and I attempted two Texas Heart Shots but failed both times. Somewhere around 100 yards, he turned left behind a hay bale as attempted to get into the trees and this gave me a broadside shot. “Thwack!” Another hit.
Maybe I’m sadistic or maybe I like the natural confirmation but there are two sounds that I really love. The sound of a hog squealing as they get hit and the “thwack” sound of a round hitting the hog. I felt bad because my father-in-law didn’t get to shoot, but we kept trekking and went to another field.
As we exited the truck at the next field, I saw something but couldn’t really make it out. The figure was about 250 yards away but I couldn’t distinguish what I had on my Wolf screen. My father-in-law fired up the Eagle and had no problem seeing the HUGE BOAR on his screen. The $1350 Eagle is designed for longer range than the $1100 Wolf model.
The wind really wasn’t in our favor so we had to be pretty wary of it. We started our march due west to try to catch this big boy. There was a bunch of waist-high brush on our right as we started our stalk. We walked about 100 yards, checked on the location of the hog and didn’t see him. What??
There’s no way he heard us, maybe he winded us but more than likely he was in the brush. We cautiously pushed forward scanning more regularly and finally found him. We got within 50 yards and decided to let my Father In Law shoot. At 6’5”, he can see over some things that I can’t and his shot hit the beast.
The hog sprinted to the west, seemingly knowing that this is a life and death situation for him. I didn’t see him anymore. My Father In Law scanned the field and he didn’t see anything either. I asked to see his rifle and this is where I was really impressed.
I scanned west across the wheat field towards the direction of the AWOL hog and could see the tree line at the next property, which was 550 yards away from where I stood (ironically, exactly what NiteSite rated the Eagle system at). It’s not like my Father In Law was rocking a Trijicon or Nightforce scope. He has some scope that he either found at the bottom of a crackerjack box or someone paid very little for at some big box store.
My point is that he didn’t have a great scope but with the Nitesite Eagle night vision system, we could see very clearly over a quarter of a mile with that nine power optic.
He retired for the evening but I have to believe that he is a true believer in this system. How do I know? When I came back to the farm a couple of weeks later, he still had the Eagle on his rifle and had been out at night by himself!
The discovery of what these NiteSite systems can do has caused me to return about 10 days after the hunt with my Father In Law. The Eagle was still on the .22-250 so I moved it on my AR-15.
I reached out to a friend that lives nearby, he met me at the house and we headed out. We’re not out for more than 20 minutes when we found our first group of about 20 hogs. Initially they were less than a 100 yards from us, which excited me because this field was a mile across.
I thought we would get out of the truck, quickly but quietly walk about 50-75 yards and we’d shoot our pigs. Unfortunately, this sounder decided that they wanted a nice brisk walk for the night and we ended up chasing them 400 yards before we could get a good shot.
As I looked at the screen on the Eagle, I saw that several of these pigs looked like they have a pattern more like black and whites cows than pigs. We got in position and we both shot. We both hit hogs but they ran around like roaches when the light gets turned on.
My buddy’s gun jammed while I kept shooting. I missed my next two shots but the sow has turned towards us, running fast straight at us. I really concentrated, pulling the trigger again. This hit caused her to turn, still running to the right, which gave me a broadside shot. This time the shot caused her to do what I call the “Farmland Flip” where she was docked points because she did not complete the landing. Her gymnastics coach would have been disappointed.
We scanned the field and the rest of the hogs are long gone. We moved on.
This next group we found were only 25-35 yards from the road. We wanted to move really quickly because the lights of the truck wouldn’t turn off, the wind was not in our favor and they could’ve spooked at any moment. I pulled the truck somewhat off the unoccupied highway into the tall grass and my buddy scanned again with his thermal. “Let’s go!” he whispered.
We were no more than 50 yards from the truck when we got into position. As we shot, I heard my round thump the hog. I shot again and hit, shot again and hit, shot and missed, shot again and hit, but I didn’t see the hog anymore. The hog got away?!? Or so I thought.
We found the hog not far past the point where I lost visibility.
We ended up shutting down about 11 pm because I had a 2.5 hour drive back home and had work in the morning but my mind was now racing with possibilities of what we can do with these systems from NiteSite.
The next day I sent pictures to my Father In Law of the carnage that took place that night. A farmer whose crops and income are routinely ravaged by wild hogs, he was pretty happy. He even sent me a text that said “Thanks for hunting.” In all the years I have hunted his land, that’s a first.
While some people hunt for the meat, others for the thrill, some of us hunt because it impacts our family’s livelihood. These hogs are devastating to the crops and the land where my family lives. Thanks to NiteSite, there are fewer pigs doing that and a farmer that is a big believer in their products. Best of all? My Father In Law likes me even more now!