A special bond is forged between hunter and hunting dog. There’s a mutual trust in which the dog becomes an extension of you. He is your right hand that can reach further than your own mere mortal arm. Sometimes a little too far.
Though your hunting dog is no doubt trained and loyal, once he catches the scent of the hunt, he may be a little too good at his job. Whether it’s a beagle on the tail of a rabbit, a pointer gaining ground on quail or a setter in search of grouse, once the prey is in his sight, he’s gone, meaning the only thing you’ll be hunting for a good while is your own dog.
Luckily, technology has again come to the rescue with GPS devices made specifically for tracking elusive hunting dogs. So, how do these high-tech hunting tools work? The functionality relies on the equipment’s two main parts: the collar and the receiver.
The collar houses a radio transmitter that transmits information from the collar to the receiver, which you hold. The latest e-collar devices with GPS, like the Garmin Tri-Tronics Pro 550 Bundle, are capable of a lot more than simply locating a wayward hound. They integrate terrain and weather readings while simultaneously tracking the dog’s movements and behaviors. These units can be used for training dogs at home and in the field. For training purposes the collar comes equipped with vibration and horn features. The vibration settings are used to condition your dog to commands while the horn is used to help locate the animal when he runs out of sight.
Models like the 550 also have a momentary stimulation feature that allows you to initiate a “nick,” or a pulse that draws the dog’s attention back to the task at hand. The pulse is short, humane and effective. Momentary stimulation is useful in circumstances when you need a bird dog to hold fast on point or if you need a retriever to hold steady in order to wing and shot. The momentary stimulation is mild, unlike continuous stimulation, which can cause the dog to surge or jump. Instead, it enforces the dog’s staunchness from a distance of up to a full mile without causing the dog to break on the bird. The intensity of the stimulation is also adjustable.
Normally when the dog is let off the cable, he is on his own. He either remembers his training or he doesn’t. A stern “whoa” when he’s well out of earshot has no effect on your pooch. The beeper horn is built into the receiver, unlike older models that placed the beeper on top of the canine’s head. The beeper has a range of 400 yards and a three level volume adjustment for run mode, point mode and a simple locate mode. It’s also fully waterproof in case you are chasing an overzealous bird dog, and it has 127 levels of momentary stimulation. The LCD window displays the intensity level and also has a battery life indicator with three bars.
The GPS tracker is embedded in the collar and reports back to the receiver’s LCD display screen. The data the GPS collects and reports is astounding. Not only are you informed of the location of the dog, but also of the terrain your dog is traveling through, landmarks or unusual structures present and adverse weather conditions.
GPS works through communicating with various satellites orbiting the earth. GPS receivers collect this information and then use trilateration, a form of geometry which uses spheres, triangles or circles to calculate and pinpoint a user’s exact location. Basically, your receiver compares when a signal was transmitted by a satellite to the time in which the signal was received, and the difference in times indicates the distance of the signal’s origin from the satellite. Add the data from at least two more orbiting satellites and the location of the signal can be triangulated and displayed on the receiver’s LCD screen.