Locating dogs in thick cover

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kstater
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Locating dogs in thick cover

Post by kstater » Thu Nov 29, 2018 2:19 pm

I just got back from a pheasant hunt where we covered some really tall switchgrass cover. I hunt with Brittanies (smaller stature dogs) and once they were about 20 yards away I couldn't see them any more. It leaves me wondering where they are and if they are on point frequently. Most of my hunting is small field hunting so I like my dog to hunt inside 100 yards to GPS seems to be overkill. I think bells and beeping collars might be good options. My hearing isn't great so that may be a consideration there. Do they make a vest with a flag that people like? What do you like to use to keep track of your dogs in those circumstances?

JONOV
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Re: Locating dogs in thick cover

Post by JONOV » Thu Nov 29, 2018 2:36 pm

kstater wrote:I just got back from a pheasant hunt where we covered some really tall switchgrass cover. I hunt with Brittanies (smaller stature dogs) and once they were about 20 yards away I couldn't see them any more. It leaves me wondering where they are and if they are on point frequently. Most of my hunting is small field hunting so I like my dog to hunt inside 100 yards to GPS seems to be overkill. I think bells and beeping collars might be good options. My hearing isn't great so that may be a consideration there. Do they make a vest with a flag that people like? What do you like to use to keep track of your dogs in those circumstances?
You know, I've used a GPS collar a few times, and while my dog was hunting 300+ yards away (really open country) at times, every time I looked at it to find him, he was under 50 yards.

Bells are cheap enough to try and not be out too much if it doesn't work. I think they make some beepers that operate on a remote, so you hit the beeper to find him if you want. But if your hearing is going I'd look hard at a GPS. The Dogtra Pathfinder is pretty reasonable and easy to use on an iPhone.

The other thing, look at the tops of the grass. My wife once kept asking me where my dog was when I sent him on a retrieve in cattails. I could track his progress looking at the tops of the reeds.

ddoyle
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Re: Locating dogs in thick cover

Post by ddoyle » Thu Nov 29, 2018 8:50 pm

I hunt a Vizsla so I feel your pain. Early season real difficult but I have bought the reflective color and used bells. My hearing sucks too so bell is hard to hear in thick cover. Beeper may be best choice.

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gonehuntin'
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Re: Locating dogs in thick cover

Post by gonehuntin' » Thu Nov 29, 2018 9:43 pm

An Astro will solve all of your problems.

Warrior372
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Re: Locating dogs in thick cover

Post by Warrior372 » Thu Nov 29, 2018 11:02 pm

I like to use a few things depending on terrain. My Brittany always has a rip stop orange nylon vest on - 1) to help me keep an eye on him because he is super shifty and 2) because he has no regard for his own body and I know too many people who’s dogs have been punctured while running through dense / tall brush. He always has a Dogrra T&B 2500 on - I can hit the locate button to beep him and get a feel for where he is. I also carry a Northwoods bell in my pack if we get into thicker stuff I can put it on him. I also bring an Astro garmin and depending on the terrain will either put it on him or leave it in the car. I also use it if / when I know I will not want to listen to the bell all day.

birddogger2
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Re: Locating dogs in thick cover

Post by birddogger2 » Fri Nov 30, 2018 9:12 am

kstater -

Any location method has some drawbacks. Bells help to keep tabs on a dog...but for a pointing dog, they fall silent when you need them the most. Also, the noise can alert wary wild birds well before the dog can get an opportunity to scent them. Beepers, while more versatile and often , louder, share the same drawbacks. When you run a dog with a beeper set on point mode, it would not be unreasonable to expect some birds to take to the air, or simply to beat feet, when the beeper sounds off.

Obviously, bells and beepers have useful ranges that are limited by wind, cover and by our individual hearing ability. Mine ain't as good as it used to be. FWIW, I have Lovett's beepers that, on a good day, with light wind and cover, I used to be able to hear as far off as 400 yards. Now, not quite so far, but still good to go at about 15o-200 yds most of the time.

The Astro is expensive. You need to actually look at the screen to locate the dog. If you buy the standard version collar it is a bit large for a Britt...but they now have a mini version which is about 2/3 the size. Those are its drawbacks, IMO.

The advantages are...You can, with a glance, locate your dog with relative precision out to about a half mile, even in the most difficult terrain and conditions. About the only time you will totally lose the signal is if the dog fell into a well. Even then, it will give you a line and a distance on its last communicated position.

I use the Astro for my dogs. I have one pointer that is small and fast. She can be out of sight in a heartbeat, and yet, be quite close. She can also be headed for the next zip code. I find it quite useful ...and a great comfort.

RayG

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Re: Locating dogs in thick cover

Post by DonF » Fri Nov 30, 2018 11:25 am

I have rarely ever hunted cover like that. Why? can't see my dog's! Have a Garmin on them now so I do know where to look but I'd rather watch the dog's doing their thing!

kstater
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Re: Locating dogs in thick cover

Post by kstater » Fri Nov 30, 2018 12:15 pm

Sounds like I should try the easy stuff first with a bell and move to a collar then the Astro if I am still having trouble. Which Astro are you all running? I see a 320, 430 and 900 models. May need to get that on my Christmas wish list!

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Nmhuntr
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Re: Locating dogs in thick cover

Post by Nmhuntr » Fri Nov 30, 2018 12:28 pm

I have the Astro 320 and DC40 on my Brittany. She weights 27 pounds. She also runs with the E-Collar as well. As much as she still runs I am considering tying a brick to her tail. The issue with location is there are 5 sec updates. Some newer collar update more frequently. As fast as mine runs it can say 200 yards out and then 5 seconds later 75 yards to my left. If I am trying to really locate her I watch it for a few seconds. If she points and holds point then it vibrates with a direction and distance which is accurate. A used Astro 220 and DC40 collar runs about $300.00. I could have used a 220 just as well since I never use the map option on the 320.

Good luck with your decision.

birddogger2
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Re: Locating dogs in thick cover

Post by birddogger2 » Fri Nov 30, 2018 1:18 pm

Nmhuntr wrote:I have the Astro 320 and DC40 on my Brittany. She weights 27 pounds. She also runs with the E-Collar as well. As much as she still runs I am considering tying a brick to her tail. The issue with location is there are 5 sec updates. Some newer collar update more frequently. As fast as mine runs it can say 200 yards out and then 5 seconds later 75 yards to my left. If I am trying to really locate her I watch it for a few seconds. If she points and holds point then it vibrates with a direction and distance which is accurate. A used Astro 220 and DC40 collar runs about $300.00. I could have used a 220 just as well since I never use the map option on the 320.

Good luck with your decision.
I had a 220 with a DC40 collar. It is all you should need. The DC 40 is a good, sturdy piece of electronics. Several pros I know use that model collar. The 220 and 320 can use all the same collars. The newer 430 cannot use any of the older collars. I agree that you should be able to find something used.

I lost the 220 receiver and replaced it with a 320. Unfortunately, there was something screwy with the 320 and it never gave me direction info that was even remotely accurate. I got tired of screwing with it and tossed it along with the DC 30 and DC 40 collars. Upgraded to the 430 with a T5 and T5 mini in case I wanted to run 2 dogs. The 430 does have a 2.5 sec refresh rate, but honestly, it is not THAT much better and your collar battery life is reduced, due to the halving of the refresh rate. I did order the collars with long range antennas, but my dogs can chew up real estate fairly quickly. You may not need the longer antenna for your dog, if you go with the 430 new.

RayG

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gonehuntin'
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Re: Locating dogs in thick cover

Post by gonehuntin' » Fri Nov 30, 2018 1:38 pm

Total mystery to my why everyone thinks you always have to be looking at the Astro to hunt a dog. I only look at mine when either the dog's been gone to long or I hear the beep and feel the vibration, telling me dog's on point. I take a good look at the arrow, pick a land mark and walk to the dog. A landmark could be a clump of cattail.

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Re: Locating dogs in thick cover

Post by JONOV » Fri Nov 30, 2018 1:59 pm

gonehuntin' wrote:Total mystery to my why everyone thinks you always have to be looking at the Astro to hunt a dog. I only look at mine when either the dog's been gone to long or I hear the beep and feel the vibration, telling me dog's on point. I take a good look at the arrow, pick a land mark and walk to the dog. A landmark could be a clump of cattail.
Haha its like a whistle. Some people hate hunting with someone tht uses a whistle...which usually means that they toot the whistle like they're playing Flute in the Marching band. If you just blast it to recall the dog its fine. But I've vvolunteered at some NAVHDA events where the handlers can't take the thing out of their mouth.

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Fun dog
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Re: Locating dogs in thick cover

Post by Fun dog » Fri Nov 30, 2018 2:28 pm

GPS is not an overkill. While they are nice to help you keep track of the dog while moving, even more so to be able to find the dog if they are unable to get back to you. Such as if they were stuck in a trap.

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Re: Locating dogs in thick cover

Post by nevermind » Sat Dec 01, 2018 10:51 am

kstater… I wouldn't bother with bells or beeper collar, if you let your dog hunt out of sight of you then you probably will end up going to a GPS unit. gonehuntin' gave you the technique to use... staying as quite as possible is a big plus for hunting wild birds. I have a pathfinder by Dogtra that use and like, but the Garmin 550 plus I think that's model? is worth looking at, if you're like a lot of us that don't need the mapping apps.

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Re: Locating dogs in thick cover

Post by averageguy » Thu Dec 13, 2018 3:39 pm

Garmin 550 Plus. You will never be sorry.

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Re: Locating dogs in thick cover

Post by setterpoint » Sat Feb 02, 2019 3:27 pm

I use a bell and a astro 320 dc40 collar I listen for the bell to keep track of the dog so I'm not always looking at the astro, only time I use the astro is when the bell has falling silent, the astro takes me right to the dog I use it untill I get 40 yards away from the dog then I get ready to flush the bird and be ready to shoot

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Re: Locating dogs in thick cover

Post by polmaise » Sat Feb 02, 2019 7:29 pm

Horses for courses ?
I never did like gadgets like gps or locators ,or beepers . But I can see how some find them useful (Ride in the Horse back crowd and those in the prairies) ..lol
In thick cover , ..If the cover dont move I have to make a choice of whether the dog is on Point , or The cover is too thick for the dog ,or ..Too thick for some :wink:
..............
Big Ask ! ..for a handler to call or turn a Hunting Pointing dog in ,because they dont see it :wink: :wink: ...
Your Call .

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gonehuntin'
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Re: Locating dogs in thick cover

Post by gonehuntin' » Sun Feb 03, 2019 8:30 am

If I didn't hunt dog's in cover so thick I couldn't see them, grouse and woodcock in tag alder or dog hair Aspen and pheasant in cattail swamps, I wouldn't get much hunting in. Being able to locate dog's quickly and silently is a must.
LIFE WITHOUT BIRD DOGS AND FLY RODS REALLY ISN'T LIFE AT ALL.

setterpoint
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Re: Locating dogs in thick cover

Post by setterpoint » Wed Feb 13, 2019 10:52 am

some have already said this but get a gps for your dog I personal like garmin you will know where your dogs at all the time and it will page you when on point

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