GPS collar on a flusher dog

Bob Peters

Active member
Does anyone ever put a GPS collar on a flushing dog? I realize that this is not needed the vast majority of the time, here's why I ask. Sunday was hunting in Northern Iowa in 30mph winds and was trying to make my way to some brush in a field of grass. It was that tall, brittle, golden/reddish stuff, and it kept getting taller. Pretty soon it was up to my armpits and I couldn't keep track of my dog and so I turned around and went to a different area. One of my biggest fears is losing the dog. She listens well, hunts at a great range, and we get along great, but my fear is that some combination of factors might separate us and she gets lost. This would mainly be high winds in thick cover which makes it very tough to keep tabs on her. I have been hunting with her for three years now and never lost her at all so maybe I'm being paranoid. Her fur matches the color of that grass to a T, so it was even tougher to see her.
 

labrador

Active member
GPS collars were originally designed for tracking hounds hunting mtn lions and bears. They gained ground into the coon hunting market and are now standard in any hound hunter's equipment. The evolution into upland hunting was inevitable. The GPS collar is an excellent tool for a pheasant hunter. I have a Garmin Pro 550 Plus. It is a very small display built into the traditional style Pro transmitter. It shows a directional arrow, true north, whether dog is moving or stationary, distance to dog, and battery life of receiver. For hunters that value being silent it is worth it's weight in gold. With out a GPS collar and in heavy cover with wind one has to either whistle or call for their dog when they lose track of it. Now it is simple to look at the display and know where and how far the dog is away from me. Coupled with using the tone to communicate to my dog to find me we are able to be as quiet as possible when hunting.

The Garmin collar does have a somewhat obnoxious long antenna. This does not seem to bother the dog at all as it does curve to somewhat stay out of the way. I don't use it for waterfowl hunting or training as I have two other Dogtra collars that fit those applications better. I highly recommend one for both peace of mind and to improve your efficiency as a pheasant hunter.
 

Matt D

Active member
There are some other recent threads on this but to answer your question, yes. I went to it on my Springers late winter last year and very happy with it.
 

Gatzby

Active member
My older dog is nicknamed Randy Moss. He can be a pain in the ass but he makes things happen and you want him on the field. Usually he hunts within in range just fine but he gets self employed sometimes when in cattails. In order to hunt quietly I love the GPS collar, I can keep track of him and only reel him in when necessary. Plus it is fun to compare his data to my pointer buddies who USED to say their dogs cover more ground. Interestingly my younger dog who tends to hunt closer and checks in more regularly in the thick stuff is usually within a 5% for total distance travelled.
While I don't think they are necessary the piece of mind is worth a lot especially if you hunt big tracts of heavy cover. For game farm hunts I don't bother to use them.
 

UplandHntr

Well-known member
Its not in the budget this year but its in my plans before next year. With 2 dogs now, one being a Golden that does blend in with everything, its good insurance.
years ago I was hunting with my 2 Goldens in a coulee in MT with a lot of swirling wind. I could see my pup from above but she couldnt pin down my voice or whistle. When I hit the whistle she kept going the opposite direction. After following her for 10 mins she finally saw me waving my arms. That was very unnerving.
 

jackrabbit

Active member
I am 6'5" and a lot of the grass I walk in MN is almost as tall as me. Most of the time I can hear/see the grass moving from my Lab. But once or twice a year we might get separated and he's gone for 5-15 minutes. What I've learned is don't panic and he'll find his way back. I do have him collar trained to 1 beep = sit, 3 beeps = come. When I do the 3 collar beeps and he's lost, I know that he is searching for me but he can't actually hear where I'm at so he's just blindlessly running around searching. I try to hunt as quiet as possible, but I've also got him whistle trained. When he's gone for a long period and hasn't found me after a bunch of collar beeps, I'll turn to the whistle so he can hear where I'm at (maybe once or twice a year). So 3 whistle blasts = come.
 

A5 Sweet 16

Well-known member
I am 6'5" and a lot of the grass I walk in MN is almost as tall as me. Most of the time I can hear/see the grass moving from my Lab. But once or twice a year we might get separated and he's gone for 5-15 minutes. What I've learned is don't panic and he'll find his way back. I do have him collar trained to 1 beep = sit, 3 beeps = come. When I do the 3 collar beeps and he's lost, I know that he is searching for me but he can't actually hear where I'm at so he's just blindlessly running around searching. I try to hunt as quiet as possible, but I've also got him whistle trained. When he's gone for a long period and hasn't found me after a bunch of collar beeps, I'll turn to the whistle so he can hear where I'm at (maybe once or twice a year). So 3 whistle blasts = come.
Rabbit, do you ever feel like he has trouble homing in on the whistle when he can't see you? Which whistle do you use?
I hate doing it & alerting every bird in the county (at least the down wind ones), but I feel like on those really windy days, if I suspect my dog can't find me & could be out there a ways, a yell might be easier to locate.
I don't know though.
 

Bob Peters

Active member
This is a slightly different question, but after a brief searching it seems like Garmin is the only way to go? I don't need anything fancy, just want it in case the dog gets lost.
 

Palouse

Member
I use an Alpha 100 on my golden retriever. It's overkill, but the "tone" feature allows me to "tack" the dog as she hunts. She and I have a language with it. It allows communication without me having to call to her or use a whistle. It's also a couple of hundred dollars worth of peace of mind that I can find my best friend when the shit hits the fan. She hunts close, she checks in and I almost always have visual on her, but being able to see a direction and distance on my Garmin watch pointing to where she is is priceless. I use a 20-yard box as rule to manage her hunting range, when she presses that distance, I "tone" her and she tacks to stay close.

It's also nice to know how much "work" she did during a hunt. Miles, hours, calories, etc.
 

Bob Peters

Active member
I use an Alpha 100 on my golden retriever. It's overkill, but the "tone" feature allows me to "tack" the dog as she hunts. She and I have a language with it. It allows communication without me having to call to her or use a whistle. It's also a couple of hundred dollars worth of peace of mind that I can find my best friend when the shit hits the fan. She hunts close, she checks in and I almost always have visual on her, but being able to see a direction and distance on my Garmin watch pointing to where she is is priceless. I use a 20-yard box as rule to manage her hunting range, when she presses that distance, I "tone" her and she tacks to stay close.

It's also nice to know how much "work" she did during a hunt. Miles, hours, calories, etc.
Thanks a lot for that reply. I am definitely looking that route for the reasons you said. I hunt with a field bred golden and she is just like yours. Checks in a lot, hunts close, but not too close. Usually the only time she gets far from me is when there's a flush. For example this year we got in a situation where we walked into the middle of a group of pheasants flushing in front of and behind us, and I shot and dropped a rooster, but a hen had just flushed near her, she heard the bang and took off after the flying hen because that is the bird she had a visual on. On a rooster this past saturday she took off through a thick food plot trailing him after I dropped him. She was gone for a couple minutes and I got a little nervous before she came back with the bird. I'm mainly looking for one as insurance and because the dog is priceless.
 

Palouse

Member
Thanks a lot for that reply. I am definitely looking that route for the reasons you said. I hunt with a field bred golden and she is just like yours. Checks in a lot, hunts close, but not too close. Usually the only time she gets far from me is when there's a flush. For example this year we got in a situation where we walked into the middle of a group of pheasants flushing in front of and behind us, and I shot and dropped a rooster, but a hen had just flushed near her, she heard the bang and took off after the flying hen because that is the bird she had a visual on. On a rooster this past saturday she took off through a thick food plot trailing him after I dropped him. She was gone for a couple minutes and I got a little nervous before she came back with the bird. I'm mainly looking for one as insurance and because the dog is priceless.
Your reasons are well-founded. My wife always asks if I use the GPS collar...I dare not ever say no.
 

jackrabbit

Active member
Rabbit, do you ever feel like he has trouble homing in on the whistle when he can't see you? Which whistle do you use?
I hate doing it & alerting every bird in the county (at least the down wind ones), but I feel like on those really windy days, if I suspect my dog can't find me & could be out there a ways, a yell might be easier to locate.
I don't know though.
I just use a normal whistle... one that a referee or coach would use for sports. No, I don't feel like he has a problem finding me after I start the whistle. I only need to use it once or twice a year, and it's always in a situation where we are hunting some thick brush or something and we really get lost from each other. Usually starts where the dog gets birdy and heads into some thickets or something where I simply cannot keep up or get through. I think he is birdy and doesn't even realize I'm not with him for awhile and ends up going pretty far. It's not often we need the whistle to communicate, and I pick and chose when to use it. Usually he's traveled so far away that every bird is already alerted of us, or we are in an area where it would be tough to get a shot off, and my goal is just simply to get the dog back and move on to a new piece.

When he was a puppy, I whistle trained him. Then as I got smarter and realized the importance of being quiet, I transitioned the whistle training to e-collar beep training. It's a pretty handy way now of staying in communication with each other without saying anything.
 

TGM

New member
I'm considering getting a GPS collar. I've freaked out more than a few times when my Golden has scented a bird in thick cover in high winds and hasn't responded to whistle or yelling. It seems like people prefer Garmin. The Pro 550 plus looks easy to use. The Alpha 100 mixed reviews on usability. The newer Alpha 200i is pricey but seems to be improved compared to the 100. Anyone familiar with these or knows of good reviews?
 

Az hunter

New member
thanks for all the post. I had not thought of a gps collar for my hard headed springer who some time take off on me in the thick grass. now I think I will look into the Garmin
 

Bob Peters

Active member
Thanks for the advice. Here's the basics, I've done all the research. The Astro 430 is a standalone GPS collar/unit from garmin. The Alpha 100 is a gps collar/unit that has correction, the Alpha 200i just came out and will replace the Alpha 100. It has correction, tone, vibration, an improved screen (bigger and easier to see in daylight), and a few added buttons that make it easier to use. Its physical size is also a bit thinner and easier to grasp. The Garmin 550+ is a gps collar/unit that has an LCD indicator arrow on the bottom that will point the direction of your dog. If training 2 or 3 dogs the garmin 550+ is the way to go from what I read, physical toggle switches allow for near instant correction of any of the dogs.
 
Top