Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about drones, thermal cameras and hog hunting! If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.
What affordable drone and thermal camera set up would you recommend for a beginner to use for hog hunting?
Welcome to the drone world! While I am vegetarian, I can endorse your efforts for wanting to use a drone for hog hunting!
Wild hogs are an invasive species, wreaking havoc on the environment, especially in the southern portion of the United States. The 200-pound animals are destructive, damaging livestock, hurting the ecosystem and competing with native species. Couple that with their impressive fertility and high adaptability, and wild hogs cost the U.S. $1.5 billion each year.
Using drones to hunt wild hogs is an excellent use case. Add a thermal camera, and they are easier to spot. Using drones to hunt hogs has been a common practice for many years, but it used to be extremely expensive; Hunters in the past have used $15,000+ rigs to make it happen.
Now drones with thermal cameras are cheaper than ever before — and extremely easy to fly.
If you’re looking for value, your best bet is the FLIR Duo camera, which combines a thermal camera vs. a “traditional” visible light camera into one drone. It’s the same size as the GoPro Hero camera, so it will fit on any drone designed to carry a GoPro Hero (which is many of them!).
That camera runs for $999 on B&H Photo. B&H also does not charge sales tax in all states except NJ and NY, and will give you free shipping. Or, purchase FLIR Thermal Imaging Cameras directly from the FLIR site.
The easiest way to fly it is on a drone designed to mount a GoPro. I recommend the DJI Phantom 2, which runs for $500 on Amazon. The drone is incredibly easy to learn how to fly. Another option is the 3D Robotics Solo drone.
One of my favorite YouTube dronies, the Roswell Flight Test Crew, shows how it works:
However, both of those drones are pretty outdated (the DJI Phantom is on their model 4 now), and many users prefer to purchase a newer drone.
This YouTube explains how to fly the FLIR Duo Camera with a DJI Mavic Pro, which is my favorite drone to date. It’s going to be more complicated to mount the camera, but could be worth it if you want to use the drone for other purposes too.
If you have a bigger budget, then without a doubt, you’ll want to buy the DJI Zenmuse XT. The camera on the DJI Zenmuse XT is developed by FLIR, providing high-sensitivity (50mK) thermal imaging at 640/30 fps or 336/30 fps depending on the camera model.
Good luck, and happy flying!