Is Your Gun Big Enough?


If you go hunting for pheasants, it’s doubtful that you would take a .22 caliber rifle with .22 caliber cartridges filled with bird shot. It’s very doubtful you would use that type of gun and ammo to go duck or turkey hunting. You look like a smart and sensible person, so I’m willing to bet you don’t take a .22 rifle and handful of shorts if you’re going deer or elk hunting. It sure wouldn’t be a big enough gun or adequately powered ammo. Besides that, it’s illegal to use such a small gun for big game.

Seems like about 99 percent of hunters know what type of gun and ammo is appropriate and plenty adequate for whatever type of game or birds they hope to harvest. If they’re not carrying something adequate for the job, they are usually carrying more gun than they really need instead of less. I bet most of my readers agree with those statements.

A very high percentage of you faithful readers have some type or types of hunting dogs. Most of you use an E-collar to help teach your dogs in the easiest, most humane, and most effective way. You want the best behavior, pleasure, and performance that each of your dogs is capable of providing.

Here is what I don’t understand. My question for some of you and the reason for my puzzlement is why do most folks carry a big enough gun but too small, weak, or inconsistent of an E-collar? Why is that? It’s a situation that I frequently hear about or run into during various conversations or questioning phone calls. Frequently the other person is concerned, upset, or frustrated because they’re not getting consistent performance from their system, and, of course, then they can’t get it from their dog. You would not believe the amount of calls I get from hunters unhappy about this or that or something else concerning their dogs and their E-collar.

In quizzing to uncover the root of the problem, I nearly always find out they’re trying to use an E-collar system that is meant for backyard training or close-ranging dogs in open areas. They are trying to make that system work on a dog half-a-mile or more away in heavy cover or foliage or on the other side of a mountain or steep hill! No way in heck is that gonna work. It’s impossible.

Frequently these people are new owners of this system. While I hold my thoughts and attitude in proper and respectful tones, I try to find out how they decided to buy that system. Very often they answer, “Well, usually my dogs don’t go too far away.”

Then they admit, “Also it was on sale.” Of course, on sale can be good; but only if the product is great!

Or maybe it wasn’t on sale but it was considerably cheaper than the more powerful units that had much greater and more consistent range and helpful features.

Another comment I hear quite regularly is “Well the one I got is rated for half-a-mile.”

Or they will say they recently purchased a unit that is rated for one mile; but typically they are disappointed to find they seldom get range anywhere like that.

As mentioned, I stay calm and respectful, but I also really want to say firmly, “Welcome to the real world. It has always been like that!”

E-collars of every brand have always been rated for such and such a distance and then usually somewhere in the hard-to-find fine print, you’ll learn that rating is for “line of sight” range. That means if you can’t see it, you can’t get it. In other words, any brush, buildings, hills, hard rain, foliage, or anything between you and that collar that stops you from seeing it, also stops you from getting anywhere near that kind of range.

For about 40 years now, I’ve had fairly serious conversations with some of the E-collar companies in which I took issue with their advertising that I frequently found to be misleading. They always disagree. I guess it’s because to me spoken or written words matter, and spoken or written words should mean what they say.

Maybe the person who has to wake up and realize what the real world is all about is ME!

Truthfully, no matter what we’re buying, we need to do some homework. We need to read the fine print and figure out what it means. Buying new products of any sort is not a fairy tale or fantasy land. Marketers want to put the contents of our wallet into their wallets. Or they want us to whip out our credit card, put ourselves on the hook for the purchase price, hurry home with the item, and then deal with our disappointments later.

There’s no point in going deeper into figuring out whose fault the disappointments are when they happen, but certainly we must first look into the mirror and figure out if we did our due diligence to learn enough to make an informed decision. Did we call and talk to knowledgeable users of these types of products before we made our fateful decision? We know that when we’re dealing with sales people we must be somewhat skeptical and on guard. Often they want or need to sell whatever is in stock! Sometimes we become too easy when we’re talking about buying hunting equipment.

When it comes to E-collars, I think most manufacturers and dealers kind of assume that everyone is aware that whatever range is advertised or promoted as what this certain unit will get must actually be cut in half or less in the potential purchaser’s mind when they’re making their buying choices and decisions. What these sellers maybe don’t realize and don’t work very hard to change is that most new purchasers of this type of equipment are not aware of that practice. The newbie buyers don’t realize that it’s been this way for almost 50 years with all makes, models, and brands.

One of the problems this practice causes is that at least half of new purchasers and even many people who have had various units before end up buying something they are not satisfied with. It’s kind of like them buying a .22 rifle and box of shorts when they’re planning to go elk hunting. After realizing their mistake, many folks sell at a loss and then order a better outfit. Confession: In my early years, I did that . . . two different times. Smiles. Since those days, I always use the BEST outfit that exists!

What kind of gun would be the right kind for elk? Well, I don’t know because that’s not something I’m an expert at. But I do know that we don’t want less gun than we need. If in doubt or if we’re going to make an error, we want it to be a bigger and better gun than we might actually need for the job. Certainly not less! And that is always my recommendation when folks ask me before they buy an E-collar outfit.

I always firmly tell ’em this is not a time to try to save a hundred dollar bill and then end up unhappy, frustrated, and with a dog that is getting inconsistent messages. Inconsistent E-collar signals means major training failures!

You want a big and good gun. If in doubt, you want a bigger and more powerful gun than you think you may need. A collar unit built for backyard training or for close-ranging dogs will simply not do the job for real hunting dogs of any type where the terrain or cover blocks that line of sight.

Folks often say, “Yeah, but Uncle John I’m never going to need to stimulate my dog a mile or two away.”

And I reply, “But there’s a real good chance you may want to stimulate it three-quarters of a mile away as you realize it’s about to fade out of hearing on a whitetail, or bushy tail. Or you may want to press the tone button to bring your dog back to you if it’s a mile or more away. Or if it’s under a bulldozer pile or part way into a hole in the ground or in a barn full of hay that the coon took refuge in; and these obstacles are only a quarter or half mile away. You need a unit you can rely on during a heavy rain storm. You need a unit you can rely on when your dog is in a hundred acres of standing corn that is 10 feet tall, and it’s only a quarter or half mile away.”

To get the performance you want and deserve in challenging places and conditions, you need an E-collar that is one of the best, if not the best, and longest range units available. To be successful, you need a big enough gun. A powerful gun. A gun that might be more than you need most of the time, but one that will get the job done when situations are more difficult than usual.

Your dog can’t learn to behave and to obey when part of the time your unit can reach out and give him a good tickle, and part of the time the message just won’t get there. That is exactly what is typical of most people’s experiences when they buy a smaller model or cheaper brand than what is actually required to get the job done right.

It doesn’t matter what you’re hunting, you need an adequate gun. And it doesn’t matter what type of dog you’re training, or teaching to come back to you by using the tone sound, you need an E-collar that is not just adequate part of the time but one that is the best possible outfit all of the time. It’s much better and wiser to buy a top of the line E-collar but then go ahead and save $100 or $200 when you buy your gun and ammo.

There is one noteworthy exception to all my statements above about cutting the advertised distance in half or less if you really want to be thinking correctly about range of any particular E-collar outfit. That exception, and to my knowledge at this time, it’s the only exception in the E-collar world, is that the Garmin/Tri-Tronics Pro Trashbreaker operates differently than all others. I can verify that the distance it reaches is amazing and unbelievable. I was a doubter! Then I tried and tested and have continued using and testing, and it really does work for several miles. It is by far the longest range E-collar outfit available. It’s the one with the fairly long flexible antenna on the collar and the black and yellow hand-held transmitter. For hounds, it’s the berries!

No, I don’t plan to stimulate a dog three or four miles away, but I do want to be sure that I can always reach out there a mile or two if I need to give ’em a tickle. Or more often to use the tone sound to bring a dog back to me. More importantly (and much more frequently) I positively want to be able to send them a message 100 percent of the time when they need to receive one in normal hunting range even though it may be very challenging weather or foliage conditions.

Whatever you decide is up to you. However, most experienced dog experts would recommend that you never take your dogs hunting or training with less E-power than you need. That’ll ensure your training efforts are most successful; and also that you’re one of the satisfied customers.

Written by: John Wick

The post Is Your Gun Big Enough? appeared first on Garmin Blog.

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