If you’ve paid attention to the reviews for the TEK 2.0 system from SportDOG Brand®, you know that hunters are really impressed with the mapping feature. Count me as one of them. While a lot of hunters and dog handlers rely on the screen’s information to help them locate a dog at any given time, this remarkable piece of equipment can tell you so much more.
I have three English pointers, each of which has a different running style. I prefer to hunt them one at a time, so when one starts to get worn out I have a fresh dog ready to go. At the end of the cover, if I have some time, I sit down and analyze what the dog’s run looked like. If you’re working with a young dog, this is especially helpful. How quickly did we move through the cover? Was our speed related to the number of birds I expected us to find? What did my dog’s running pattern look like in relation to the path I walked?
As I study the dog’s track, I also take into account the Handheld’s trip computer for further evaluation. It’s really interesting to analyze. My youngest dog can cover a good amount of ground. I’ve studied her pace after finishing cover and found that she routinely averages 5.5 to 6.5 mph. She ambitiously covers ground, hunts to objectives, and does not run big. However, she seems to have a more productive run when her average speed is closer to 5.5 or 6 mph. My oldest dog averaged right around 5 mph, according to the trip computer. With 9 seasons under his belt, he doesn't struggle to dig up productive contacts. As his speed and pace changed while maturing, his productive contacts increased. Is it pure exposure and experience, or did it have to do with ground speed and application? I like to think it's both.
Average speed tells a lot about a dog. I always knew this, but the TEK 2.0 has helped me quantify it. Obviously, average speed is going to vary among breeds and type of cover, but I believe there’s a sweet spot for my pointers in the grouse woods. It’s the place where speed and effectiveness intersect, and now I know it’s important to find the right target rate for each individual dog.
I take all of these stats and match them up with information such as weather conditions, birds pointed, birds shot, etc. I reset the trip computer after every cover and keep detailed notes on each hunter and each dog. Being a stickler for tracking all of this information helps me develop successful strategies for future trips. I don’t want to give the impression that I have all the answers, because I don’t. Another pointing dog owner might take a completely different approach to working a piece of cover.
One more benefit of having all of this information at my fingertips is that it reminds me to pay attention to how much time each dog is spending on the ground. When you’re on a multi-day trip you might need to set limits on how much work each dog gets in a day. Having an idea of how many miles your dog can handle and still be able to be effective on subsequent days is important. There’s nothing worse than heading out for a five-day trip with a group of friends and a truck full of dog power, only to find out that your dogs are all burnt out by day three. Just something to keep in mind.
One last point I’ll make in favor of the TEK 2.0 is the fact that it’s really easy to operate while wearing gloves. I’m always wearing leather gloves to protect my hands when I’m hunting in thick woods, so I appreciate how easy it is to use the unit’s navigation wheel. The exterior part you can use to navigate to the different icons. The interior you have push button arrows, so you can navigate that way as well. And the center of wheel serves as the enter button. I like it a lot. I see my buddies using other systems that rely on a touch screen. They’re constantly removing their gloves to use it and that just seems cumbersome to me. So, this seemingly minor feature is actually a really important one when you’re in the thick of things.
The TEK 2.0 is much more than a way to keep track of your dog’s whereabouts. I’ve been using the TEK 2.0 for a year now, and I’m amazed at how much more efficiently I can manage my dogs and my hunts.