Dog Tracking Collar Reviews and Buyers Guide

Helping You Get the Most From Your Hunting Dogs

Tracking Collar Reviews

by Geoffrey English

Tracker Classic
There are many types of dog tracking collars on the market today. These collars include Tracker, Marshall Radio Systems, Quick Track, and Wildlife Materials. In this article, I would like to help clear up some of the terminology and concepts associated with choosing the right dog tracking collar for your needs.

The Basics
Every dog tracking collar system is made up of two components: the hand-held receiver and the transmitter or dog tracking collar. The lightweight transmitter is attached to a collar worn by the dog while hunting. The transmitter sends a short radio signal to the hand-held receiver every second on a specific frequency. The hand-held receiver listens for this signal, measuring the strength of the signal emitted from the dog tracking collar. Many of dog tracking collar receivers are equipped with a directional antenna to help determine the direction of the signal and the bearing to the dog.

Dog Tracking Collar – Terminology:

Range - When manufacturers state the range of a dog tracking collar they are referring the distance the collar can be detected over a flat and unobstructed terrain. These distances are quoted under ideal circumstances such as a clear line of sight and a fully charged transmitter. Range can be reduced with differences in terrain or a weak collar. However, all the dog tracking collars we carry are engineered to work in the toughest terrains without dramatically compromising or weakening the signal. The Tracker Maximum 5000 System is rated by the FCC to have a range of 12 miles line of sight, with 2.25 - 4 miles normally in the Ozark Mountains, and 4 - 7 in rolling mid-western terrain.

Attenuation / Near Switch – Many receivers have an attenuation or near switch that allow you locate dogs that are close to the handler (within ½ mile). This mode filters out the stronger signals – thus making the easy to track close working dogs.

Radio Bands / Radio Frequencies - All dog tracking collar systems operate on one or more different bands. Some models are capable of handling a single band while others are capable of tracking collars on multiple bands. The FCC has approved the following bands for North America - 216, 217, 218, 219, 220 and 221 mhz. Each band is then divided into a thousand different frequencies from XXX.000 to XXX.999. If your dog tracking collar system is capable of tracking multiple collars on a single band (for example the 217 band) be sure you order collars with a large enough frequency gap to avoid overlapping. Depending on the receiver you choose you will be able to track from 1 to 1000 dogs.

Behavior Circuit - Behavior Circuits are specialized electronics built into the tracking system to signal the action taken by a dog while wearing the collar. There are a few different types of behavior circuits found in today’s dog tracking collars: Tree Switch, Pointing Dog Mode and Bark Indicator.

Tree Switches are the most common type of a behavior switch, which are popular amoung hound owners. When wearing a tracking collar equipped with a tree switch the collar will emit a different signal, typically a more rapid beep to the receiver when the dog wearing the collar and has treed its query. In contrast, a pointing dog behavior switch will emit the same signal to the receiver when the dog is stationary / on point. Finally, bark indicator collars will indicate whether a dog is barking while pursuing game.

Number of Dogs
How many dogs can you track at one time? The number of dogs you can track at one time is dependent on the model of receiver (hand-held unit) you own. Systems like the Tracker Classic are only capable of tracking two collars at a time. While other systems like the Garmin Astro 320 can track up to 10 dogs simultaneously.

Useful Comparison Charts -
Tracker Collar - Comparison Charts
Marshall Radio Systems - Comparison Chart
Quick Tracks - Comparison Chart
Wildlife Materials- Comparison Chart

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