When hunting at night there are a two main things which must always be considered and upheld at all times: safety and the law.
Unless you can attain a special license to cull deer at night, it is illegal to do so one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise. Game birds and hares also cannot be shot at night. Night shooting is generally used for the population control of pests and certain predators such as foxes. You must also only shoot on land which you either own or have permission for; shooting on land without permission is a serious offence and comes with heavy fines and even a custodial sentence.
A Rifle Scope is Essential
Generally I would always recommend using either rifles or air rifles at night time with scopes on so that you can identify both your target and where the shot could go afterwards much easier. You should also never just shoot at a pair of eyes through a scope or otherwise, as what you think could be a pair of rabbit eyes could be a pet, or even someone with binoculars observing animals at night.
It is also strongly recommended that when shooting at night you use a suppressor, as to not make too much noise, which could disturb people in local houses trying to sleep, and scare nearby livestock. At Pellpax we stock a large range of suppressors for air-guns and rifles alike. Click here for more in air rifle silencers. And here for more on Rifle sound moderators.
When shooting foxes you must ensure you are using a calibre of rifle which is legal for you to do so, generally .22 Hornet or larger are favoured, air rifles and rim-fires are not legally permitted.
Using a scope at night can be hard work if your scope hasn’t got an IR (illuminated reticle) which is when your crosshair will clearly light up making your point of aim much clearer. As well as this you will also need a good spotlight or torch to identify your targets; a bright light also temporarily stuns animals such as rabbits which will make for an easier shot. You should also choose a scope with a large light intake which will make for a much clearer and wider field of view. For example, there is the Hawke Vantage 3-9×50 IR Mil dot reticle scope, and more powerful 4-12×50 version.
Three Lamping Colours
There are three most popular colours of bulb which are used when lamping or shooting at night which all have different pros and cons. All of which are down to personal preference – red, green, or white.
The most popular colour for lamping is a red bulb. This can commonly be seen when driving around back roads at night and you see farmers using these red spot lights across their fields looking for rabbits or foxes. It’s a popular favourite because the red light doesn’t affect your personal eye sight night vision as much as the other colours and the animals are less aware of this bright light being put on them and so won’t “get spooked” and run away. The red light can make it quite hard to spot your prey at night if they are in long grass or in the undergrowth as everything will appear as the same colour. This is still the first choice for any fox or rabbit hunters. You can find a red spot light here – the Tracer LEDRay F400 Red .
The green spotlights are quickly becoming more popular because like the red light, it has little effect on your own eyes night vision and with the green light it is much easier to identify different targets because it shows up differently on obstacles unlike the red where everything can blur into the same colour. The green light however is a lot less popular with shooters after predatory animals like foxes because they notice this colour a lot more and have been known to run away as soon as the beam is on them. A great example is this, the Tracer LEDRay F400 in Green.
Finally we have the white spot lights. These offer the greatest distance for you to shoot at and make everything a lot easier to see at night, but it will have the worst effect on your eyes night vision and will scare predatory animals away the most. This is however my personal favourite to use when shooting rabbits as the bright light for a moment “stuns” them allowing for a clear shot and clean kill. One white light to try is the Tracer LEDRay F400 in White.
All of the above spotlights which I have added the links to are for attaching either onto the gun or onto the scope which would be my personal preference when shooting. There are other options available however depending on the environment and style in which you will be shooting, such as from a vehicle or with another shooter..
Night Vision Scopes
Another option for night shooting is the use of night vision. Originally intended for military applications, this is another favourite among hunters as these night sights are becoming ever more affordable to the everyday shooter.