I totally understand the desire to make a prompt recovery, and I’m all for it... in principle. But the easier it becomes to recover a poorly hit animal, the lower the incentive (for some people, at least) to limit themselves only to their highest-probability shot opportunities.
The Grouchy Old Guy POV is that first You Damn Kids want to use technology (trail-cams, compounds, laser rangefinders, mechanical broadheads, scent-elimination tech) as a substitute for having the woodsmanship SKILLS to get into honest bow range (honest being highly subjective, naturally!) and THEN you damn kids want to use some other gizmo to ensure that you find an animal after you’ve hit it, even though the fact is that it did not just levitate out of sight after the hit; it walked or ran, leaving sign everywhere its feet touched the ground, and was most likely bleeding some as well (though that is not always the case, as we know).
Anyway, a true COG (Crusty Old Guy) would tell you to het too close to possimiss in the first place and then get down on your hands and knees and just TRACK that sucker the way God intended.
From a practical standpoint, my biggest concern would be that people might take up the trail sooner, hoping for that heat signature to remain strong… And then would run a higher risk of bumping an animal which probably would’ve stayed put and died where it was if they had just given it more time.
So I can see how it might help, and I can see how it might actually lead a person to make a bad decision that would lead to a sub-optimal outcome.
And let’s face it… If you are looking for a live animal, it’s going to be looking AT you, so once it starts getting dark, a regular light will pick up the eye-shine probably just as effectively (if not more so) than the thermal imaging would pick up the heat signature.
Secondly..... there IS a yuge jump in performance depending on the cost/technology. There are thermal imaging rifle scopes that are amazing. Truly amazing. But cost several thousands of dollars. I think I paid a bit less than $200 for the phone attachment and app. I picked mine up off ebay for one specific hunt, we needed to cross a pasture to get to an area on the other side. If animals were in the pasture and you bumped them you were done for the morning. Axis deer bark. Loudly. Everything for a half mile will stop moving and lay low. If you knew where they were you could move around them and be set up for when it got light. Ethics? Deer and pigs here are considered invasive species. No season. No limit. Not really many rules for hunting them. Dogs. Snares, etc. Personally I justify it by using it to avoid them, not to hunt them. =D
IMO.... the boss ticket to recovering animals that were hit.... would be one of the drones fitted with a thermal imaging camera.... heheheheeee..... Might want to check the Leatherwall on this, they likely even have some models to try and possibly equipment reviews....
It works, and it can be very effective given certain conditions and less effective during other conditions. For example, I used it in Kansas in a tree belt where I had hit and wounded a buck. In late afternoon, every blowdown was lit up from the radiant heat and I couldn't see the buck that was still alive and laying there. But on a cold morning the deer will POP but only the deer. If you try and find blood it will only work for a few minutes before the blood hits ambient temperature and then it won't show a thermal signature. Understand two key points. You have to have line of sight. It can't show you a deer (or a campfire even) if it's behind a rock. Also, these devices are displaying temperature variations. If the environment is 25 degrees and a deer walks through it, the deer will be obvious. In September, when it's 80 degrees, you may not see the deer at all. In fact, I used it last winter to find a coyote I killed with night vision in NY. The fur on that dog was so thick I had a hard time finding it even when it was 15 degrees. When I climbed a hill, which changed the direction, the nose and eyeballs were glowing and I recovered the coyote. The fur insulated him amazingly well.