One of the most impressive things to be introduced into dog training has been the ability to track your dogs by either radio frequency equipment or by the newest GPS. When I was training, and this will probably put a date on me, the only way you had to train a big running dog was by putting spotters at different places along a section of land or by using horses and scouts. Well, for various reasons the horseback idea wasn’t really viable so therefore you had to have some really great friends with enormous senses of humor. Now with the introduction of tracking equipment you are able to spend a lot more time actually training your dog not hunting for them. Almost all Field Trialers know what I’m talking about and a lot of the everyday hunters who hunt heavy cover.
My Brother In-Law had a little Springer Spaniel, and I mean little. That dog could not have weighed in at 25 lbs. if you hung a bucket of rocks from her collar. Well there was just no way you were going to hunt her and keep her out of the cover. Which for all intents and purposes, if your dog won’t hit the cover, leave it home and go with a friend. Now there isn’t anything wrong with a dog that hunts the edges, but at some point they have to show the desire to get into it and get it done. Anyway back to point. Once this little gal got into the cover or high CRP you could not tell where she was. You couldn’t see her, you couldn’t hear her so it was extremely hard to stay with her. There is nothing more frustrating to be out of position when your dog flushes. I always hunted pointers but the same frustrations apply when hunting heavy cover or large tracts of ground.
The tracking systems have made things much easier and sooo much less frustrating. The radio frequency systems were the first to come on the scene. I have had several customers tell me that the systems they purchased have made their hunting in rough terrain, high cover or very large areas easy. The only draw back to the radio frequency systems, in my opinion, is that you have to always be fiddling with buttons (dials). Now that doesn’t make them any less proficient in finding and tracking your dog but there is still a lot of fiddling as far as I’m concerned. Now, the NEW GPS Tracking Systems that have just been introduced into the training arena are just absolutely unbelievable. You are able to track several dogs at once. Course you could track several dogs at once with the radio frequency systems also. But with the GPS you can keep track of locations, game, and your dogs’ actual trail. You are able to hunt areas that you have never hunted before no matter how large because you can set the GPS up to know exactly where you are and how to get back. One of the best units that I have been associated with and have actual feedback on is the Garmin Astro Combo. There are a couple of others out there but I recommend the Garmin because GPS is what they do.
In closing I would like to say that it makes no difference whether you are a Pro or Novice. These tracking systems can really help to make your hunting experience more pleasurable and rewarding. Let’s face it. The days of you and I going out and just picking a place to hunt have come to pass. We have to travel further and hunt larger areas (Public Hunting Reserves) or private Hunting Preserves. The last thing you want to do is spend several hours looking for your dog. Even close working dogs can get separated from their owners when working high or dense cover. Yes there are those who have dogs that never get lost. I don’t know any of them but I guess there are some. But having a tacking system will most assuredly help not only with your hunt but with your training as well.