Saturday, May 31, 2014

Ruffed Grouse Society Releases Maps Of The Habitat Management Projects

The Ruffed Grouse Society has released maps of their Management Area Projects.  It looks like there are a couple of hundred areas listed.

You will need to have Google Earth installed on your computer to view the maps.

Here is the link to the RGS website with all of the mapping information.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sale Price - Garmin Astro 320/DC40 Combo

If you have been holding off on getting a Garmin Astro 320 system now could be a good time to make your purchase.

Lion Country Supply has them at $449.  This includes a DC40 Tracking Collar.

Here is the link to the sale info

Garmin Astro 320/DC40 Combo

Product Description:
LCS Offers Free Ground Shipping within the USA on the Astro 320/DC40 System!
The Garmin Astro 320 / DC40 - Extended Range is the next generation of Astro Handhelds. The NEW 320 handheld provides up to two miles of extended range for better communication with your dog. Other improvements include: Easier to view screen and graphics, simplified user menus, enhanced protective armor, vibration alerts, and wireless data transfer.
The NEW DC 40 collar now includes an integrated antenna and bright orange reflective polyurethane coated collar to increase visibility. The casing design focuses on increased durability and eliminates debris entry into the unit for longer product life.

* Units have new setting that allows updates every two minutes, extending battery life to 48 hours
* NEW - Up to 9 mile range
* Collar strap can easily be changed
* E-collar can now be mounted on the collar strap
* Casing on the collar has been beefed up making it more durable
* Collar fits into cradle charger reducing debris accumulating in charging ports - contacts are flush
* Collar Lock feature - four digit pins secures collar from being monitored by others

The Garmin Astro320 utilizes new technology that provides up to nine miles of range in open country and a stronger, more consistent connection with your dog when running in heavier cover. The 320 is now encased with a rubber armor and sturdy metal spline to significantly reduce the possibility of damage when used in rough conditions. The color display has been greatly improved providing higher resolution and easier to read in bright, daylight conditions. In addition, the map symbols and menu screen are now bolder and easier to read, and Garmin has simplified many of the function screens making for a lot less squinting. Also added to the unit is a vibration feature to supplement silent alerts, signaling to you that your dog is on point or has treed. New with the Astro 320, two antennas included for your handheld.

One is the standard 4½” antenna, plus you will receive a 13 ½” flexible antenna for times when you need extended range. The Astro continues to offer expandability to ten dogs and is fully compatible with any Astro tracking collars and current accessories such as Long Range Antennas. Remember, your Astro can also be used as a personal handheld GPS in the field for times when you are hunting without a dog or even in your vehicle on trips, providing you turn by turn directions. There are numerous Astro accessories available through LCS and some of our favorites are shown below. Call us with any question you have regarding this system and we will give you the straight scoop and solid advice.

Garmin E Collar Recovery Garmin Free Shipping Garmin thirty day trial

Garmin Astro 320 Review

By Randy Carlson, LCS General Manager

The world of GPS tracking systems for dogs is starting to change quickly – and those of us to handle dogs are benefiting tremendously. Now Garmin has raised the stakes with the introduction of their new Garmin Astro 320 Handheld! The new Astro 320 is now matched with the DC40 collar, making it an incredibly accurate and user friendly GPS dog tracking system.

A significant number of improvements have been made in the handheld, resulting in the 320. In summary:

• Extended Range Capability – now up to two additional miles of range between you and your dog
• Simplified user menu
• Easier to view high resolution 2.6” screen
• Significant external protective armor coating
• New vibration alerts
• Three axis compass for more accurate readings
• Wireless unit to unit data transfer
• Improved GPS reception with Garmin’s HotFix GPS Support
• Improved base map detail
• Button lock feature
• The current DC40 collar is supplied with the system

Improvements You Can See

Immediately you will see a visual difference in the Garmin Astro 320 as the color and material that coats the handheld have changed. Instead of a hard plastic casing material, the Astro 320 now utilizes a very sturdy black rubberized coating that makes it easier to hold in your hand and provides more protection from impacts.
Sturdy metal spline on battery door offers additional structural protection

A beefy metal “spine” has been added to the back battery cover door. This spine provides great improved protection from severe damage from potentially disastrous events, such as falling with the handheld underneath you.

Also, the handheld now has quite a bit of bright orange trim on the front and back of the unit, which helps make it easier to find in a variety of situations. The user buttons placement on the front of the 320 have remained the same, but their size and design has changed slightly – for the better. The biggest difference on the buttons is the primary directional pad - it’s now a little larger and more square-shaped (instead of round on the Garmin Astro 220), which allows you to get a better point of reference through touch when using the pad.

The other very important external change that you will immediately notice is the longer 13 ½” antenna, which is an important advanced technical feature as well. This longer antenna is an important component that helps provide the extended range that the Astro 320 now attains. This antenna is highly durable and flexible – you can tie it in a knot and it springs back! It is our understanding that the Garmin Astro 320 will be provided with both the standard 4 ¾”and the longer 13 1/2“ antenna.

The Astro 320's new screen is easier to read with larger fonts
Easier to read screens with larger fonts

The Garmin Astro 320 features on Base Map screen are clearer and more prominent
Features on Base Map screen are clearer and more prominent

Then, you get to the screen, and we really like the improvements here. Plain and simple, the new screen IS EASIER TO SEE! We love it! The screen uses new Garmin technology that provide a bright, sharp, and high resolution graphics. What really makes it different is all the screens use clearer images and larger fonts on all menu screens. No more squinting or asking your buddies, “can you read this?”. We “view” this as a very important improvement to the Astro 320. The base map has more detail and now shows offers shading to give you an idea where ridges and valley are located. Don’t get me wrong, it is not topographic detail or anything close, but it is an improvement from the base map on the 220. All information on the map screens is much easier to read too.The other very nice and functional improvement is that Garmin has greatly simplified the menu screens. They are easier to read, much more intuitive, and just plain more “user friendly”. The 220 really wasn’t bad, but with the Astro 320 the menu screens are simple to read and understand.

Improvements You Can’t See

There are plenty of improvements happening inside the Astro 320 as well.

Of course, the first and most important improvement is the extended range. The LCS Staff has tested a 220 / DC40 side by side with a 320 / DC40 and the results where clear – the 320 has extended range! Garmin has explained to us that the 320 utilizes a combination of hardware and software enhancements to obtain additional range in the 320. The amount of additional range attained varies based on the terrain – don’t always expect to get two additional miles. But, we found the Garmin AStro 320 definitely outperforms the 220, and this means fewer interruptions with the connection between you and your dog when tracking.The Astro 320 also has built-in vibration alerts, along with tones. Now when your dog goes on point / treed, or you lose a GPS signal or communication with your dog, you can be alerted with both an audible tone and a vibration alert – perfect in noisy conditions or when your handheld is in your pocket. Also, a cool thing we just discovered is there is now a very large list on “tone sounds” from which you can choose – some are higher pitch and some are lower. Those of us who are hard of hearing will find this a nice option.

The internal compass on the 220 was a “two-axis” version, and the Astro 320 is a “three-axis compass”. Simply put, this means you get a quicker and more accurate compass direction reading even when the unit is not held level. When you calibrate the compass, you now have to turn the unit in three different directions.

The Astro 320 utilizes Garmin’s latest GPS technology – the buzzword is “HotFix GPS Support”. The technical explanation on how it works even staggered Wendel, our technical guy at LCS. Without going into all the techno- weanie detail, it means that the handheld acquires satellites faster and in more demanding conditions than ever before, and maintains this connection once the satellites have been found. We tried it – it works!

Also, you’ll hear about the Astro 320 is it now offers “wireless unit to unit data transfer”. Sounds pretty cool, but don‘t think you can beam your location or that of your dog to another Astro 320 handheld unit – you cannot. What you can do is transfer some information from one Astro 320 to another Astro 320, information such as waypoints, routes, and tracks that you have entered or saved onto your system. To do this, the two units have to be about six feet from each other. A nice feature if you want to share GPS information with a hunting partner.

There is now a “button lock” feature that allows you to set your handheld so function buttons cannot be accidently pressed resulting in settings being changed. To activate, you simply tap the power button and select the lock feature from the menu that appears, and do the same to unlock. This is a nice addition.

You are able to program any Astro collar to the 320, the DC20, DC30 and DC40 - are all compatible.

The Negatives

One change we don’t like is that the on-off button is located on the right side of the unit, which would make it more susceptible to accidently turning it off/on when in a pocket, but the button is flush so it doesn’t look like it will be much an issue. Also, when loading the batteries note on the way they orient in the compartment – they are reversed from the 220 and the opposite direction from what you would normally expect when installing batteries – we speak from experience on this one! The battery life of two AA batteries is down to 20 hours on the Astro 320 (24 hours on the 220) due to the additional functions the unit must perform. We highly recommend using the best batteries possible – we always have the best luck with DuraCell AA lithium batteries in our units.

Garmin Astro 320 Review Summary

So, the Astro 320 looks good and works well. Garmin has made numerous enhancements to the system, with the most important, in our opinion, being the extended range. The screens are easier to use and much more readable. It looks like Garmin listened to input from their customers and used the best technology available to make an even better dog tracking system.

If you want tracking and training capability - view the Garmin Alpha here!