The TEK 2.0 from SportDOG Brand® has turned out to be a real difference-maker in my grouse and woodcock guiding in northern Minnesota. I admit I wasn’t always a fan of using a tracking product, because to me it sounded like one more piece of equipment I’d have to maintain. My thinking was we have enough gear to deal with, so I don’t need to carry another gadget around with me. Having spent a couple seasons with the original TEK 1.0, and now the more advanced 2.0, I can tell you the advantages of this combination e-collar and dog-tracking system have made it a standard piece of equipment for me.
Even though I like to hunt with a brace of English setters when guiding, when we’re in the middle of a lot of woodcock I’ll often hunt only one dog a time. This is a situation where I’ll use one of my closer-working dogs. The dog is hunting within bell range and my hunters and I just move from point to point. When woodcock are everywhere, things can get out of control if you’re trying to keep track of two dogs at once.
When we’re after grouse, which is a much more challenging bird, everything changes. My strategy then is to pair a big-running dog with one that hunts a little closer. If my closer-working dog goes on point, my hunters and I can get a fix on him and get to the point pretty quickly. We find more birds, however, with the bigger-running dog out covering the edges and getting into areas where my hunters and I wouldn’t normally walk.
My bigger-ranging dog wears a beeper collar, so I can keep tabs on him. However, like most hunters with lots of bird seasons under their belts, my hearing isn’t what it used to be. So, even though I can generally locate a dog by sound, it can get difficult when he’s out at the edge of hearing range, particularly early in the season when the cover is really thick. Even when I can hear the Beeper, it can be hard to nail down the exact direction we need to go. Windy conditions make things especially tough. That’s where my TEK handheld comes in. I keep it in my pocket, and when a dog goes on point it gives me an audible beep and a vibration. I simply glance down at the detailed map display and say, for example, OK, my dog is 160 yards off to the northeast and now I know where to direct my hunters so we can take the quickest route to the bird.
Having this extra insurance with the TEK has been really helpful. It’s nice knowing the unit is right there in my pocket to notify me when a dog has found a grouse or woodcock, even if the point is out of hearing range. I’ve seen a lot of guys carrying their GPS unit around, staring at it constantly like they’re looking at a TV screen. That’s just not necessary. I recommend keeping your eyes and ears trained on your dog, and then going to the TEK when you need help.
I should mention, I’m a big fan of the screen on the TEK 2.0. There’s a lot of detail in the maps, and I can read it clearly, even in bright light conditions.
If you’d have told me 10 years ago that I needed to carry yet one more piece of equipment in my hunting vest, I’d have argued long and hard … and won the argument. Today, though, I’ll never complain about carrying a TEK 2.0.