Nighttime Tactics: Strategies for Successful Nocturnal Hunting

Some animals just don’t like the daylight. For these animals, there’s just no two ways about it. You’re going to have to hunt at night. That might sound as simple as hunting during the day but without light… but nothing could be further from the truth. There’s a whole slew of techniques and tactics that you will have to apply when hunting after the sun goes down that you just haven’t learned if you’ve only ever hunted during the day. 

Even knowing whether or not to go out in the day or the night can be tricky for some animals… and that’s just the first decision to make. If you feel the call of the wild pulling at you to hunt by the light of the silvery moon, here are some tips to help you get started hunting after the sun goes down. 

Safety First!

Engaging in night hunting demands a heightened level of safety and overall vigilance. Venturing alone into the nighttime wilderness poses not only the risk of encountering dangerous wildlife but also the potential for injuries due to navigating challenging terrain. The darkness increases the likelihood of tripping if one isn’t attentive to their surroundings.

Maintaining considerations for noise discipline, light discipline, wind direction, and other factors can be overwhelming. Amidst these concerns, it is crucial to avoid getting carried away and prioritize positively identifying your targets before discharging any rounds. Unless equipped with quality infra-red sights or the latest-generation night vision goggles (NVGs), errors can easily occur. Additionally, even when hunting predators or invasive species, it is essential to strive for ethical shooting practices.

Choosing Your Weapon

Hunters have the flexibility to employ a wide range of weapons for night hunting, provided there are no legal constraints. However, among dedicated night hunters, AR-style assault rifles stand out as a popular choice. These tactical weapons have gained favor for several reasons, with their adaptability to accommodate accessories being a primary attraction, especially in light of the challenges posed by darkness.

Key accessories that enhance night hunting effectiveness include flashlight attachments and laser sights. For the most committed night hunters, the option to install a suppressor (commonly known as a “silencer”) is available, significantly reducing the firearm’s sound when used with appropriate ammunition.

Efficiency is another compelling factor driving the popularity of AR-style assault rifles. In scenarios like hunting wild hogs, where multiple shots may be desired, the semiautomatic nature of these rifles allows hunters to fire successive rounds by simply releasing and pulling the trigger. Renowned for their generous magazine capacity, these rifles are designed to enable hunters to shoot multiple times while maintaining control over the weapon. For those hunters focused on eliminating as many targets as possible, assault rifles prove to be highly effective and difficult to surpass.

Enhancing Night Vision for Effective Hunting: A Guide

To be effective at night, hunters face the crucial challenge of overcoming limited visibility. Shooting safely requires the ability to see, and there are two primary methods to address this inherent issue. The more costly approach involves utilizing night vision or thermal devices, which, while highly effective and enjoyable, can be prohibitively expensive. On the other hand, a more budget-friendly alternative is simply relying on lights.

It may seem counterintuitive for a hunter to achieve success by shining a light around at night. One might expect that animals would notice the light and either avoid the line of sight or flee as soon as the light is turned on. 

However, the intersection of science and hunting reveals a unique advantage for humans in maintaining their position at the top of the food chain. Research has shown that many animals perceive light and colors differently than humans. This insight has led to the proliferation of products such as red and green lights with various intensities. 

Using Bait To Catch Prey At Night

The age-old technique of utilizing bait and natural food sources remains a staple in the hunter’s playbook. However, regulatory restrictions on hunting over bait exist in many jurisdictions, necessitating a thorough check of applicable laws before setting up any bait for a particular species. When transitioning from day to night hunting over bait or natural food sources, familiar tactics can be applied, but the challenges of night hunting introduce additional considerations.

In contrast, hunting over natural food sources, such as open fields, adds complexity to the use of light. While a high-quality lighting system may suffice for feeder hunting, night vision or thermal devices prove more effective when the animal’s precise location is uncertain. Recognizing the importance of lights in any night hunting scenario, this article details five types of lights essential for every night hunter.

Calling Predators At Night

Using a predator caller at night introduces another effective method for hunting coyotes, foxes, bobcats, and hogs. However, the challenge of limited vision persists, especially in open areas where visibility is crucial. Animals approaching a predator call exhibit heightened alertness, creating an intense and fast-paced environment. Incorporating a light attachment on the rifle for accurate shots and a handheld light for scanning the area enhances the hunter’s ability to navigate this heightened intensity.

While night vision and thermal devices offer substantial advantages for hunting with a caller, often surpassing their effectiveness in hunting over a food source, they remain valuable tools for maximizing success in the darkness of the night.


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