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Garmin Astro GPS Collar: A Confidence Building Tool For Your Pup

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December 27, 2010

Garmin Astro GPS Collar: A Confidence Building Tool For Your Pup

By Chad Love

There are four dogs working the field in this picture; a pointer, two shorthairs and a setter. Can you spot them? Neither can I, and I'm the one that took the picture. You can lose sight of your dogs very quickly in even a waist-high CRP field, and some of the Kansas CRP tracts I hunted last week with Ted Gartner and Tom Bondurant (pictured) of Garmin International were literally taller than we were. In conditions like that it's very easy to lose sight of the sky, much less your dogs, unless of course they're wearing Garmin Astros.

The Astro, now in its third generation, is a GPS tracking collar that (among many other things) tells you exactly where your dog is at all times. Since its introduction the Astro has become extremely popular with gundog owners (as well as houndsmen). The benefits of the collar are obvious whether you're hunting close-working dogs in heavy cover or big-running dogs at all-age distances on open prairie. The peace-of-mind from knowing the exact location of your dog is huge, but I've found there's an ancillary benefit to running an Astro, especially on pointing dog pups. It's building your pup's confidence, range and desire in that first crucial year.

I've been running an Astro on my setter pup since she was old enough to let off-lead in the field. I found out rather quickly that she had a tendency to range a little closer than I really expected or wanted her to in the fairly open terrain in which I do most of my hunting.

So I decided in this first puppy year of hunting to just let her run, chase, bump birds and generally have a fun, pressure-free time in the field. I haven't collar-conditioned her, haven't whoa broke her, haven't steadied her to shot. It helps, of course, that I hunt either mostly alone or with low-key, understanding friends, but I reasoned that if I could let her run reasonably wild for a season and build up her confidence, desire and range, then I'd have a leg up when I start the real training this spring and summer. The Astro lets me do that without constantly worrying about losing her.

And it's paying off. I've watched my pup's range and confidence slowly but surely grow over the course of the season. Last week in Kansas she ran bigger and harder than she's done all season. But I don’t think she'd be where she is if I'd constantly been on the whistle, the yell or the collar every time she dipped out of sight. The Astro's a marvelous piece of technology for the upland hunter regardless, but I think it's worth the price just for the confidence it's built in my pup.

I know many of you bird hunters out there already run Astros on your dogs, but when do you first strap it on your pup?

Comments (7)

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from uplander12 wrote 3 years 16 weeks ago

I'll strap one on as soon as I find that extra $600 that I've got laying around here somewhere. My dogs don't run that big and some of the places i hunt are suited to having closer working dogs. I run beepers on both of my dogs so it lets me know where they are in the thick stuff.

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from Bob81 wrote 3 years 16 weeks ago

My sisters and I chipped in and got this for my dad for Christmas after he almost lost one of his brittanies in North Dakota this fall.

It looks pretty nifty and frankly, I'm excited to play with it!

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from Charlie Nichols wrote 3 years 16 weeks ago

The wife's Brittany is 18 months old and I got her one this summer. We messed around with it in late summer training so all three of us would be familiar with it. This is the best invention since the e-collar.

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from jamesti wrote 3 years 16 weeks ago

fortunately my dog doesn't work very far out and won't for any reason, because i know i could not afford this collar.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from 007 wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

This isn't limited to bird dogs, I saw a lot of hounds wearing a GPS collar in bear season.

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from Hrafnjo wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

I have been using the Garmin Astro on my English setter since she was around 1 year old, then our first hunting season begun.

I have found it to be helpful and it gives me great information about how the dog is covering the ground and I as well mark inn all the birds we find.

I would still want it to have a little better coverage since I sometimes work my setter in rocky mountains of Iceland and I often loose connection to the dog. But overall it is a great tool.

I am curious about what distance it is that you want your setter to reach in the open field?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MvilleBrittGuy wrote 3 years 10 weeks ago

After getting separated from my newly adopted Britt after our first find together, in his exuberance vanishing into the sedge,this piece of equipment was instantly deemed a must.The $500-600 is so worth the piece of mind plus is really is a multi tasker and will do roughly 80% of what one might want to do out of the box and with map cards and a few other things 99% of every thing else, From geo cashing (thinking that may be a good excuse to scout) to getting you there and back.

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from uplander12 wrote 3 years 16 weeks ago

I'll strap one on as soon as I find that extra $600 that I've got laying around here somewhere. My dogs don't run that big and some of the places i hunt are suited to having closer working dogs. I run beepers on both of my dogs so it lets me know where they are in the thick stuff.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bob81 wrote 3 years 16 weeks ago

My sisters and I chipped in and got this for my dad for Christmas after he almost lost one of his brittanies in North Dakota this fall.

It looks pretty nifty and frankly, I'm excited to play with it!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Charlie Nichols wrote 3 years 16 weeks ago

The wife's Brittany is 18 months old and I got her one this summer. We messed around with it in late summer training so all three of us would be familiar with it. This is the best invention since the e-collar.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 3 years 16 weeks ago

fortunately my dog doesn't work very far out and won't for any reason, because i know i could not afford this collar.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from 007 wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

This isn't limited to bird dogs, I saw a lot of hounds wearing a GPS collar in bear season.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Hrafnjo wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

I have been using the Garmin Astro on my English setter since she was around 1 year old, then our first hunting season begun.

I have found it to be helpful and it gives me great information about how the dog is covering the ground and I as well mark inn all the birds we find.

I would still want it to have a little better coverage since I sometimes work my setter in rocky mountains of Iceland and I often loose connection to the dog. But overall it is a great tool.

I am curious about what distance it is that you want your setter to reach in the open field?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MvilleBrittGuy wrote 3 years 10 weeks ago

After getting separated from my newly adopted Britt after our first find together, in his exuberance vanishing into the sedge,this piece of equipment was instantly deemed a must.The $500-600 is so worth the piece of mind plus is really is a multi tasker and will do roughly 80% of what one might want to do out of the box and with map cards and a few other things 99% of every thing else, From geo cashing (thinking that may be a good excuse to scout) to getting you there and back.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment