Hunting began as a royal sport but today many adventurous people have taken to it in a professional way. The extent of their professionalism is to go prepared into the wild with all kinds of equipment apart from a gun or rifle, such as cameras, knives, vehicles, cell phones, chainsaws, walkie-talkies, deer calls, traps and handheld hunting Global Positioning System (GPS) units.
What is a hunting GPS?
A hunting GPS is a necessary tool to have if you want to be on the straight track in the jungle or on rough terrain. Obviously, with the GPS' tracking facility, you can never be lost, you can always find yourself. Besides, not only will it enrich your hunting experience, but it will also save you precious time in finding the right hunting spot.
Check below video on GPS tips for hunting:
Other benefits of a handheld GPS for hunting include the following:
Why you should use a handheld GPS: Why should a hunter enter the wild with a handheld GPS device? This is acclaimed among hunters because they can be used for the following purposes, safer and better, by using a handheld GPS. Let's take a close look at them.
These devices are lightweight and small enough to hold in your palm with very good features to boot, including amazing battery life. There are non-mapping models too.
How is a GPS unit better than a cell phone or a map and compass?
A GPS device has an edge over traditional devices for these reasons:
Apart from the above, if you think you can manage fine with the GPS installed on your Smartphone or watch, then let's put you straight on that. These devices, though fitted with GPS, cannot penetrate the wilderness because they are meant for city use that needs technology. So, if you plan to pass through all kinds of terrain, you need to go there with a hunting GPS and keep your hand phone with you safely.
Often, you might select a product correctly after much trial and error. Perhaps, you do not know the parameters of selecting a good product, as in this case a hunting GPS. To begin with, a GPS device must be lightweight, easy to use and easy to hold for long periods. Of course, there are other parameters too that you should check when buying one, such as:
1. Satellite reception: Usually, GPS models use all 24 satellites that the United States Department of Defense owns. So, it can provide details about your location. Modern units can also 3D lock the user's position at the right time. The larger your unit's antenna, the quicker it will lock your position. How accurate the image displayed is and your position is depend on the number of satellites present in that area.
2. Ease of use: Often, hunting GPS devices aren't smart-looking but what they lack in looks they make up in usability. When evaluating a GPS device for ease of use, look at the screen type and the configuration of the buttons. It's not uncommon to see handhelds with buttons, but the absolutely latest ones work on a touch screen. Touch screens work well if you want to type text quickly, but such models are difficult to navigate as they aren't precise and tough to use. The quality of images on such models is far lower than those seen on a Smartphone. In such a scenario, it's preferable to go with a unit that has high quality buttons.
3. Speed: To test the speed of a good handheld GPS device, it's best to enter a store and test it out. You could, for example, ask a seller or a consultant to decide between two models that you're interested in, but cannot make a choice between. Or, in a store, you can take both units and place them next to each other. Then, search for your location on each device and see which one's faster. The one that returns an answer faster is the faster model and the device you should go with.
4. Display quality: Most models have a plastic display, since users generally look for waterproof devices. Plastic covers work well with units that have touch screens because they are highly durable and can resist the harshest elements.
However, when checking out this feature, you should consider whether you want to buy a unit with a backlit screen. This feature will assume a lot of importance when you would need to check your handheld GPS in daylight. Usually, these units have screens that are very hard to read as compared with those in Smartphones.
Choose a model whose size is right for you. Keep reading buyer reviews to see if there is any information regarding display quality that you should know before you buy.
5. Mapping software: Each handheld GPS has its own unique inbuilt mapping software. One easy way of figuring out the advantages of one mapping software over the others is to check its specs and capabilities. You should also check if the software platform is intuitive or not and whether it is compatible on a range of devices. It would also help you to find out whether the GPS you're looking to buy is compatible with open-source mapping software or not. There are innumerable free software platforms that you can opt for to update your maps and be absolutely relevant and contemporary.
6. Number of maps: Some GPS models offer a larger number of maps than others, though many of them are restricted for use in the USA and Canada. Whether you want to buy maps from the manufacturer or not, you need to update your maps every so often. If you don't, you'll be in for a terrible surprise.
You might be ok with paying an annual subscription fee of $30 for maps, but there may be those who cringe from this. Fortunately, there are several sites that offer free maps and satellite imagery. From some of these sites, you can download high quality images and free spatial data.
The minus point about using these free maps is that you'll have to navigate your way around them. Using them could be less comfortable than those provided by manufacturers.
7. Proximity Alarm: You'll find this feature in the newer models of GPS units. It allows you to select a point on a map and find a radius. If you enter that radius, an alarm will go off. This is particularly useful for hunters who know where other blinds or stands are.
8. Touch screen: Like the proximity alarm, the touch screen is a feature that you will find in the newer models of GPS devices. It's better to buy such models with this feature as they enable using such units faster. They could also come with models where you swipe and tap the models wearing gloves.
9. Accessories: Normally, what come with a handheld GPS device include rechargeable batteries, carrying cases, USB cables and mounts.
10. Price, testimonials and warranty: The more you check out GPS handheld units, the more you will realize that those models that cost under $200 aren't worthy of your consideration. To get your money's worth, be prepared to spend this money and get yourself a model that will do the job well and reliably. If you want to use it for hunting, buy the best GPS for hunting--in fact, you can consider it an investment in something you love.
Before you take the plunge and buy a model you're not sure of, read as many reviews as you can. Read the good ones and the critical ones and try and understand the product from the buyer's point of view. Find out from your family and friends what kind of models they've been using and ask their opinion as to which the best are on various parameters such as convenience, capabilities, durability and battery life.
Often, it is difficult to balance Nature with technology, particularly when you're trying to fuel your passion with a dash of technology. However, for the precision and safety that these devices offer, it is undeniable that you can go into the wild without a handheld GPS unit.
Not only are they efficient but they also keep you safe. Plus, they take away any tension and anxiety you might experience of getting lost and returning to your truck or stand. You might choose to use a modern GPS unit or a traditional compass and map, but there's no compromise on being safe. How much you're prepared to spend for your safety is really up to you
There are several superb handheld GPS units, so pinpointing any one to be the best was a difficult task. However, we present hunting GPS reviews of the best performers, beginning with the Garmin Oregon 600, an overall winner for its excellent features and capabilities.
The Garmin Oregon 600 has been adjudged the Editor's Choice Award for being the Best Handheld GPS For Hunting for the money. This model comes with a three-inch touch screen display and one of its most endearing features is the dual-band GPS/GLONASS satellite positioning, apart from the three sensors and the Bluetooth technology known as ANT.
This technology used here makes connectivity a prime feature of this handheld as it can be used for sharing waypoints and routes wirelessly. Since this option works well with conventional batteries, it makes the device very versatile. A NiMH pack can be purchased separately and can be charged while the GPS unit is connected to a power source, including a computer or a laptop. The Garmin Oregon 600 allows you to use either conventional AA batteries or a rechargeable NiMH pack.
This device has an integrated 3-axis electronic compass. With the accelerometer tilt compensation feature, the user can see where he's headed while the barometric altimeter shows the precise altitude by overseeing any pressure changes. This handheld GPS can precisely and quickly locate the your position and maintain its GPS location whether you're in dense forests or in deep canyons.
With wireless sharing, you can geocache, spot routes, tracks and waypoints 50 times faster than any other Garmin handheld devices with wireless capabilities. Adding maps is also extremely easy.
What's in the box:
A dedicated GPS, the Montana 680 is a wonder, whether in water or on land. It has several admirable features that make it the GPS of choice of several hunters, whether professional or novice. Try it out and see for yourself.
Below is a video tutorial on how to set up your montana 680 device:
Of the Montana 600, 650 and 680, the Garmin Montana 680 is one of a bulky GPS unit of this family, weighing 0.29 kg. It has a large 7 inch² touch screen display which is intuitive. It is highly durable and water resistant. The screen is as large as the unit, so reading even minute maps or seeing the smallest details on them is very easy.
It has an integrated 8 MP camera with autofocus feature to tag your adventures. It is very easy to use even by a newbie, and gives plenty of space for maps, waypoints and photos. Its internal memory is 4 GB.
It has very good reception, wherever you may be located. It redraws maps with lightning speed and its electronic compass works so effortlessly that unlike other models, this one neither lags nor sticks. This is such a versatile GPS device for hunting that it can be used through the year, besides using it for other activities such as fishing, motor sports and hiking. The only minus point is its heavy weight.
For all its plus points, it can well be termed as the best handheld GPS today.
What's in the box:
Here's a GPS device that's simple, inexpensive, lightweight and fits in your pocket. It does its work quietly and without all the modern trappings of new convenience features.
If you're looking for an exceptionally capable and dependable GPS for your hunting expeditions, but don't want to go overboard on spending for one, try the Garmin eTrex 20, which was made for people on a budget.
The Garmin eTrex 20 is endowed with many excellent features, but chief among them is its undeniable speed. It is said to be 20 times faster at locating the user's position than any conventional GPS device. It achieves this by predicting satellite placement three days after its last use, which reduces location time considerably.
This unit was made for use in the outdoors and comes with a rubber design so that it withstands small droplets of water. It is also so rugged that it can tolerate dust, dirt, rain and moisture and can also be submerged in water for a depth of at least one metre for 3 minutes without losing any of its inherent capabilities. Its battery life is also an impressive 25 hours.
The Garmin eTrex 20 is highly affordable and is the best hunting GPS in the under $200 category. If you want to save money on buying a GPS handheld device, you should go for this one as it will give you superlative performance at a decent price. It has an internal memory of 3.7 GB with an option to add on an SD card.
It is highly compatible with innumerable aftermarket maps such as bird's eye HD maps, nautical maps and turn-by-turn direction maps. Though this model doesn't have a touch screen, yet you can navigate through all its screens using a joystick. It is easy to use, capable of redrawing maps with lightning speed and is versatile to be used anywhere for any adventure, even in the winter
What's in the box:
These are a few of the best Garmin hunting GPS devices currently making waves in the market.
The Bushnell 360500 Back Track Hunt is extremely helpful for hunters who want to stay connected. Whether you're in the wilderness trying to navigate it or you're planning your hunt, this GPS device will give you all the information you need to make it a success. Read on to know more about this amazing device.
This unit has a very simple design and good features too. However, its display and interface aren't as effective, though the entire piece is well-priced. This device displays sunrise, sunset, moonrise and moonset times so that you can plan your activities accordingly. Five standard storable locations and 20 additional ones on this navigator allow you to navigate to an animal downed, or to your vehicle with a simple arrow on your device. It can log up to 48 hours of data of your trip and stores and located a maximum of 25 waypoints.
It displays the time, temperature, elevation, distances, latitudes and longitudes, and show barometric pressure readings too. It also shows an accurate reading of peak animal activity based on several types of data. It is built to be sturdy so that it resists all kinds of harsh weather.
To go over your intended trip, Bushnell presents the Breadcrumbs feature so that you can track your hunt and put it over an actual map, to give you all the details about your route, hunt and any tips to improve on next time. It has all the features to be called the best GPS for hunting.
What's in the box:
Your go-to GPS device in case you don't want a touch screen, the Garmin GPSMAP 64st with TOPO US promises ease of use, several conveniences and highly reliable performance in dense forests.
This rugged, tough and high-performance handheld GPS system is also sleek. Its color screen is sunlight-readable and it has a highly sensitive GPS and GLONASS receiver with superior reception due to its quad helix antenna.
The GPSMAP 64st comes with a three-axis electronic compass and a barometric altimeter, preloaded TOPO US 100K maps, wireless connectivity and a one-year subscription to BirdsEye Satellite Imagery. It is also enriched by an integrated worldwide basemap with shaded relief. It is easy to add more maps with all details. It has a memory of 8 GB and a microSD™ card slot.
It is also compatible with Garmin Custom Maps, which allows you to convert electronic maps into its downloadable version for free. It is ideal for the smart and experienced hunter who can use wireless connectivity and send smart notifications, thereby making information sharing between hunting partners very easy and compatible.
What's in the box:
Handheld GPS devices are a boon for hunters. The more feature-rich they become, the more pleasurable a hunting expedition can be. These devices are versatile enough to be used not just for hunting but other outdoor activities like fishing, hiking, biking, etc. The greater the versatility of these devices, the more useful to a greater number of people.