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Old October 28, 2010, 10:23 AM   #1
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GPS units and finding your hunting spot

Do GPS units do that? Let's say you're scouting unfamiliar terrain, find a spot and set up your stand.

Opening day, you're out well before sunrise and the terrain doesn't look familiar and you're having trouble finding your spot.

Do GPS units allow you to key in such locations?

If so, which are the better units?
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Old October 28, 2010, 10:29 AM   #2
Brian Pfleuger
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That's pretty much what a GPS does, yes.

Takes you from point A to point B and back again.

"Better Unit" is a complex question.

If all you want to do is mark a spot and come back to it then a $120 Garmin eTrex will do the job.

One the other hand there are units with topographic maps, satellite imaging, emergency beacon locators, lake topography......

They can cost up to beyond $1000, and probably a lot more.

Any modern unit will find a spot. The GPS on my iPhone can EASILY get me within a few feet of a spot. My 10(ish) year old Garmin eTrex will work just fine too.
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Old October 28, 2010, 10:30 AM   #3
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Sure, you can either mark the area previously, or find it on Google maps/Earth and go to a lat/long. It's hard to go wrong with Garmin - it's just a matter of what features do you want.

For hunting, I'd recommend a topo mapping handheld. A compass is nice. Something like the Oregon 450t would be my choice. If you're on a very tight budget, the eTrex line will get you to and from a saved location or known coordinates.
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Old October 28, 2010, 10:59 AM   #4
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Being an old timer I still like map & compass navigating, but I have been dragged (kicking & screaming) into the late 20th Century by getting a GPS.
FWIW here are my observations from the POV of a GPS newbie.

YES they are very good at getting you back to somewhere you've been to with them.
(What you do is "save a Way-point" (location) when you are there.) Really easy you just push a couple of buttons, say "YES!" & enter a name so you can tell it from all the other way-points you've saved.

You can use this saved location in several ways.
You can just have the GPS tell you the saved way-point is (X) miles in (Y) direction. (The easiest but least useful method).

You can navigate from way-point to way-point in direct lines. This lets you, for example get from your tree stand to a different blind that you've marked, but have never been to from here.
The GPS will create "steps" to each point telling you each point in turn is (X) miles in (Y) direction from the next one.

You can have the GPS actually record your trail exactly as you walked it.
The trail is saved & named, just like a way-point, you then follow a "breadcrumb trail" step-by step in either direction.

Start collecting way-points as soon as you get the little bugger. Way-points are the key to a good use fro a GPS.

GPS is not as good at Getting to there from here as it is to coming back to here from somewhere else.

GPS is not perfect & there are things that can mess it up, most of the problem being fixable by just moving a few yards till it gets sorted out.

You will love it when you get past the confusing new terminology about coordinate systems & NAD's & so on.
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Old October 28, 2010, 11:25 AM   #5
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A GPS is a great tool to get you there an back again. Set a way point, key it in and it will take you to that way point.

There are lots on the market depending on what you want out of your GPS including preloaded terrian maps, basic maps and various features. A basic GPS from Garmin or Magellan will get you there and back and after that, it's up to you how much toys you want on the GPS unit.
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Old October 28, 2010, 11:32 PM   #6
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Get one with lots of correlators as that relates to acquisition speed.

In the past, helical antennas performed better than patch antennas, but I haven't looked at the currently available units to see which was better. Units with patch antennas just look like a rectangle, helical antennas usually stick out from the unit.

Both of these (correlators & good antenna) help when you are in terrain without good satellite visibility (trees). Heavy tree cover is a problem for many units.
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Old October 29, 2010, 01:18 AM   #7
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I had an old Garmin Etrex and it was iffy to get s satellite fix under tree cover. This year I bought a Garmin Oregon 400 when it was on sale for $250 at REI. IT locks on to many more satellites even inside my 2-story house and under thick tree cover.

So it is not just features but the receiver and antenna that are important, too. If you can't get a signal then it is just a dead weight. If you are hunting in open terrain then a cheaper, simpler unit may be enough.
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Old October 29, 2010, 02:40 AM   #8
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just a little tip-
the cheap ones @100 bucks you must be moving to have the compass work .for a few bucks more it ll work while your standing still - just an anoyance
i got my summit then went out to a big field ; put out 2 bucks worth of quarters and mark them all
didnt loose any money learnin how to use it
good luck!
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Old October 29, 2010, 05:24 AM   #9
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A few details

GPS have refresh rates, typically, not always, the pricier have a higher refresh rate.... We own a Sailboat and there's a big difference between, say Lowrance, Garmin, and Raymarine (Raytheon). Go their websites and research it.

GPS need to "see the sky" They won't work in caves.Sometimes, there's an impact by a heavy leaf canopy. If you mark a spot in the Summer, verify before you go back in the dark.

Some have more bells and whistles than others. By that I mean you can interface with you PC and save configurations and build "lists of waypoints by category. Some have a red backlight to help preserve night vision.

In the past, the Government has imposed WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System) limitations. They dis this during Desert Storm. With WAAS, which was established for Airflights, typically, you can expect an error of 1 meter laterally, and 1.5 meters vertically. Several things effect this again good reception=good results.

DGPS (Diffrential GPS, NDGPS in US) uses Ground based transmitters to increase the accuracy for GPS. It started out for Mariners being controlled by USCG. Now Homeland Security Controls it and much of CONUS is covered by it.

Lastly, my opinion, in a boat, especially on navigable waters, the high end Garmins and Raymarines are hard to beat. But, getting into a narrow approach in heavy fog at night, in a strange location DGPS+Radar+good charts+good depth instrumentation= reduced pucker factor by about 50%.

On land the Garmin are hard to beat. The downside is the Mapping GPS may require the purchase of new mapping software. The upside is that this software usually employs both Topo, road maps and sometime satellite views! Garmin's site is very informative without overload. I hope this helps. Oh, I do own one for land use. I use the GPSMAP 62. I like the maps and the satellite view (like Google Earth).
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