Sunday, December 13, 2015


Being dependent on something is usually a bad thing. I found out a couple of days ago that as a chukar hunter I have become dependent on my Garmin Astro. I've owned it since the first year they came out and have loved it. My fear of losing a dog was almost completely gone. Within a matter of seconds I could tell you what my dog was doing most of the time and where he was. Most of the other advantages of the Astro I didn't use and didn't really care about. After using it for a while, I found myself searching for my dog in thick cover at times, even when the Astro said he was within 20 yards. So, I incorporated my electronic collar with the beeper to the Astro. If I couldn't see my dog I pushed the beeper and, voila, there he is. I also had the luxury of correction if I needed. Luckily for both me and the dog the stimulation isn't much needed anymore, but the beeper and the shock collar is an all in one unit.
Through being brain dead and product malfunction, I quickly learned how dependent I have become to an electronic device. I still don't know how to use a smart phone, but the Astro has become my right arm when it comes to chukar hunting.

The day started out great. I pulled up to the end of the road and was pleased to see the fresh snow that started where I parked and looked like even more snow up higher.
As we headed up the draw, Jake kept moving up the slopes and looked back at me to follow,
but I decided on taking the easy route up the middle of the draw. Besides, look at all the sign where I was at.
After a mile or so and the only birds I saw were birds that Jake busted high on the slope, I decided I'd better follow up on his points, even though it was tough getting up the slope.
As usual, it paid to trust Jake. Thing's were going great with lot's of action
until we gained over 1500 feet of elevation and the fog started dropping.
I kept heading up the draw and waited to either see Jake as he checked in or let the Astro tell me that he was on point. I'd head in the direction that the Astro directed me and find my best buddy holding birds for me.
When I could see the birds for more than 2 seconds I even would occasionally drop one for Jake to retrieve.
And then it happened. My Astro said Jake was on point 189 yards away. I started in the direction of the arrow, counting steps, and when I counted 100 I looked at my Astro again. I was still 189 yards away but the direction had changed. I started walking again, this time watching the Astro, and the yardage would not change no matter which direction I walked. There was no panic yet. There was still the beeper collar. I reached for the remote and suddenly realized I had left it on the back seat of the truck. Panic time was getting close. I'm guessing about ten minutes had gone by and I reached in my pack and took out my whistle. After several blows and no Jake I started calling for him and headed up the last slope I had seen him on. I crossed his tracks several times but never heard or saw him. It seemed like an hour but I finally saw a large rock outcropping with Jake locked on one side of it. In reality, it was probably only twenty or so minutes but I was not going to let Jake disappear into the fog again. I walked up, commanded whoa, and continued to flush the birds without shooting. Jake and I sat on the rocks trying to enable the Astro without any success. The fog was thick and I decided to heal Jake down the mountain.
After a while we finally broke clear of the fog.
Yes, as far down as you can see is where the truck was parked. The good thing was that I could let Jake hunt again unless I saw the fog dropping any. As we headed down, Jake had several more points and retrieves while I mixed hunting with trying to fix the Astro. I thought I had tried just about everything and when Jake retrieved our last bird close to the truck I turned it off for good.
As we loaded up in the truck I was thinking how upset Barb was going to be with me for spending $750 on a new Astro (now called the Alpha) but I wasn't going to go through that scare again. I was even thinking I might have to start a fire on the hill where I thought I had lost Jake and would be up there yelling like a crazed man for him, but the fuel was very limited. I was going to hit the freeway and head straight for Cabelas. I have an addiction and only the Alpha could help me.

About half way back to Boise, my mind still going back to the mountain, I pulled off on a farm road with another idea. I hadn't tried removing the batteries. I had put a new pair in the remote before I started the hunt and didn't think that would be a problem. With the collar on I removed the batteries and then put them back in the unit. It seemed to be working. I put the collar on Jake and took a short walk. Everything worked as it was suppose to. I could now go home and not worry about explaining to Barb why I spent so much money on myself just two weeks before Christmas.

Yesterday, Greg and I went back over to the big pond with our dogs. I'm happy to say I had no issues with my Astro. I hope no one else has issues with their devices, but if you do, removing the power supply for a few minutes might just be the answer. It sure saved me.

I did have another problem on our hunt yesterday. It was shooting. If it rains as much tomorrow as it did here today maybe I can provide some form of laughter for you.


Anonymous said...

With the old dog Mays I haven't the need for an astro as his range is fairly close but I'm going to need one with the setter pup. She will be a much harder dog to keep track of especially if you hunt around the snow. I've also thought about the beeper. I have a difficult time with technology as well. I relate. Thanks for the info and glad you found Jake.
Alan and Mays

Unknown said...

I really like the Astro but I had lots of problems initially due to the belt clip that came with the unit. It has a spring steel mechanism that messed with the electronic compass. After 3 or 4 replacement units I discovered the problem through trial and error when I had three units at the house. Since I got rid of that belt clip there haven't been any issues. I use the gps all the time, yesterday it guided me to a lake where my son and I caught limits of Arctic char through the ice. Annie stayed home, she has trouble pointing fish, especially when the ice is over a foot thick!

larry szurgot said...

I had to purchase a new Astro 320 today. My 220 gave up the ghost today and Jake and I had to work with the old beeper collar which made me realize how bad my hearing has gotten. He twice busted the birds because I was walking away from him instead of towards him. I'd be home with Annie when the ice is over a foot thick. That's cold.