The wife and I are wanting to start going night hunting in Gonzales and we have looked at night vision and thermal and really not sure what we should buy. The setup you're using sounds like what we need but if you have any suggestions or recommendations it would be greatly appreciated
Night vision is much cheaper to get into than thermal, and seemingly less likely to give problems. I have tried a Sightmark Photon and a Wraith in NV, and a PTS536 FLIR thermal scope. The rifles, can, scope, illuminator, ammo, hard case, etc. for the NV setup still was less than the FLIR 536.
That being said, thermal is a whole different dimension. I absolutely love the thermal hunting, and I rarely do "spot and stalk" since my place is relatively small - 130 acres. So I tend to set my feeders to after dark after deer season goes out, then I slip to a blind before dusk and sit for several hours.
When my FLIR went in for service (under warranty and back good as new), I went back to the night vision and killed quite a few hogs during the "thermal-free" time.
That being said, with the night vision you can't see nearly as well into any kind of cover - the night vision washes out. Conversely, on a really humid (think misting rainy) night the thermal is almost useless but the night vision works.
Both have their place, but thermal is a whole higher level of fun (and expense). I would recommend contacting Jason at Outdoor Legacy Gear- he spent lots of time with me helping me tailor my purchases to my style of hunting and budget.
Video, audio, external battery packs, all that is something to consider too. The video is nice.
This is a good forum for helpful advice, and there are other dealers who frequent here too.
Best recommendation is to see if you can tag along with someone and try some out.