Turkey dogs, as some of you Strut Zoners know, are used to find and flush fall flocks. We then set up at the scatter site, and try to call those birds back.
Those of us who enjoy canine company (and the big birds) go afield with them where legal (New York, Vermont, New Hampshire . . . the list goes on). For us, the find and scatter offers the same relative buzz as the kill. It’s all good.
Hunting dogs–I love ’em. I’m an old school guy who has run with beagles, turkey dogs, waterfowl retrievers, you name it, since I was 12-years-old. If it involves a dog, I’m in. I’ve done it long enough without techno-gear that I’m still on this side of the fence as dog tracking systems go. Collar bells are about as far as I’ll venture into bird dog technology.
I’ve been lucky, and have spent a lot of time with my bird-crazed English setters over the years. Jenny (gone last year at 13) worked tight, checked back, and kept her eyes on me most times. Midge, likely the best turkey dog I’ll ever have (pure English setter too like the others), worked big but always just inside the pocket. Radar, 8, like Jenny, stays close–though he can run big with the best of them; like the Willie Nelson song, I’m always on his mind. He too checks back like a wide receiver to a quarterback’s huddle.
He’ll never need a tracking system.
Enter Luna, 2. She’s a blue-eyed wild child who looks and runs enough like Midge that a wave of nostalgia hits me each time the tailgate drops. Now and again she engages in what we dog guys refer to as “self hunting.” I’m on her mind (she checks back plenty), but she’s also freelancing. It’s like one of your hunting buddies wandering off while you have another plan in mind.
Midge used to freelance too. For turkey dogs to find flocks, sometimes more range is better than too little.
Here’s the rub: My wife really, really, really loves our youngest English setter. The thought of losing Luna girl in the woods (especially during a distant road trip) concerns us both. My guess is that my bags would be packed on arriving home if Luna ever got so far out of the pocket I couldn’t find her. She hasn’t. Not yet.
And that’s why discussions regarding a GPS tracking system have entered my hunter’s world. I’ve never used any of that stuff, even though I’ve run hunting dogs for decades. Some of my turkey-dogging buds do. They suggest I opt in. Just as many don’t. They support my crusty resistance. It’s about 50-50 as opinions go.
So what do you think, Strut Zone tie-breakers? Is is time for this old dog to try a new trick? Should I fess up and just buy this Astro 220 Garmin GPS Tracking System for a decent chunk of change, or should I take my old-school chances with Luna, our turkey dogging wild child?
Any of you guys use tracking systems? Thumbs up or down? Are they simple to employ and easy to learn? Moreover, are they durable? Maybe OL Gun Dogs guru Brian Lynn will weigh in here on techno tracking systems.