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Post Info TOPIC: Field testing the Leupold LTO Tracker.


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Field testing the Leupold LTO Tracker.
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I had the pleasure of testing Gadget Bob's Leupold LTO Tracker thermal device this past weekend.  I shared my experience with Skip, who suggested I also share it with all of you gentlemen, in case any of you are considering purchasing one of these devices.  My field report is below, enjoy!



Bob graciously loaned me his Leupold LTO thermal device a couple of weeks ago, for testing and shakedown.  While in East Texas, I conducted a field operation that was quite exhilarating.  At the chime of midnight on Friday evening, I struck out on a foot patrol that lasted about 90 minutes, and covered just over a mile.  I carried the LTO, my SBR with bipod, my foxpro, a headlamp, and a high powered flashlight.  What I didn't carry, and should have, was a gun mounted light.  I have 4 of these, so I have no excuse for not deploying one on this mission.  

 

On my walk, I used white light as sparingly as possible.  There was no moon, so I couldn't see much, but knew the terrain well enough to safely walk without artificial light.  But, had there been a water moccasin on the ground, I would have stepped on him.   Every couple of minutes, I would stop and scan with the LTO,  then wait 20 or so seconds for my eyes to re-adjust to darkness, and proceed.  The LCD screen on the LTO was very bright, so as I walked, I held it flat against my chest to conceal the light it was emitting.  

 

Pigs had been doing significant damage around my dads house, so I was actively looking for them.  On my walk however, I mostly saw deer and rabbits.  I spotted 2 coyotes as well, and possibly a fox or bobcat, all I could tell was that it was a smaller sneakier predator than a coyote.  

 

Eventually, I did find a large pack of pigs, 30-40 I estimate.  I first detected them from about 350 yards, which gave me plenty of time to flank, and get down wind of them.  I spent 15-20 minutes, tip toeing into their midst, and got close enough to hear all the teeth snapping and squealing. When I got close enough that I could see dark spots ahead with my naked eye, I flipped on my head lamp, thinking I was within 30-40 yards.  But that was not the case, the distance was more like 50-60 yards, and the headlamp barely provided the required illumination at that distance.  I could see one pig clearly, and quickly popped her.  That created mass pandemonium, as that pig started squealing like crazy, and the others went running in all directions.  It sounded like a heard of elephants, as they crashed through brush and into barbed wire fences as they bolted away.  'My' pig flopped around for 15-20 seconds and then got up and hobbled away, trailing the others by 100 yards or more.    

 

I did not fire any follow up shots, because 1) it was after 1AM, 2) I was less than 100 yards from my Aunt Pauline's bedroom window, 3) I had a hard time seeing targets clearly through the scope, and 4) any follow up shots would have been in the general direction of my Dad's house, so I was content to watch them run.  A gun mounted light might have allowed another shot or two.    I watched 'my' pig for a while with the LTO, but lost heat signature due to terrain features.  

 

I returned to base, having gathered the following knowledge about the LTO:

 

Pro's

  • I believe I saw more animals that I would have had I been sweeping the area with visible light.  
  • It is very good at finding large animals, such as deer, pigs and coyotes, I could see them from hundreds of yards away.  
  • For rabbits, not as good, but still possible. 5" tall grass would completely obscure them at 40 yards.
  • For raccoons, not bad, but tree trunks are almost as warm as furry mammals, even on a cool night, (temp in upper 50s).
  • I found a mouse at 15 yards, and an opossum in the open at 20 yards looked neat.  

Cons

  • LCD screen is far too bright for this type of operation.  I felt like my face was a beacon in the night every time I looked into the device.  
  • Resolution leaves a lot to be desired.  Any creature beyond 30 or so yards was just a blob.  I was only able to identity by their behavior, or lighting them up with visible light.  The pigs were the exception, as I could see big blobs being trailed by trains of little blobs, and on this quiet night, I could hear them.  This resolution problem could pose a real risk when there is livestock in the vicinity. 
  • It doesn't see through tall grass at all.  That possum at 20 yards disappeared completely when he entered foot tall grass.  
  • Field of view is lacking 

 

Overall, I think this is neat device, it will add body's to the count, but it is not a miracle device to revolutionize the way we hunt.  I think it would be well suited for sitting in a blind at night, and scanning for critters that are beyond the feeder lights.  A red tinted cover for the LCD screen would be beneficial for all night activities.  I look forward to seeing how we can put this thing to use in West Texas later this year.  

 

This thing is not intended to be gun mountable, but it does have a cross hair, so maybe it could be, with an adjustable mount for elevation and windage.  

 

I must say that standing alone in a field with a couple dozen pigs gives one a tinge of uneasiness, but hearing bullet slapping meat, followed by squealing warmed the ****les of my heart.  


 



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Texas Matt

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That was a good read Matt. Enjoyed it.

Always impressed with the TCPs efforts to stay on the leading edge of hunting technology.

BH

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