Dogtra Pathfinder

After years of following a tinkling bell in the uplands I noticed over the last three to four seasons that I can’t hear it as well as I used to. This condition made the hunts not as enjoyable as they should have been. Not being able to hear the bell caused me to be more concerned about the location of my dog than on the actual hunt and the enjoyment of being out there. Not to mention the poor dog being hacked after during the entire hunt because I didn’t want to lose contact. Needless to say it made the hunt more stressful than it needed to be.

 Finally I got tired of this and decided to start looking into a training and tracking system to make life easier. My  search criteria was pretty simple. I wanted one that was not complicated to learn and use. The reason for this is I am not the most technologically savvy person. There are terms that I don’t know what they mean and it is assumed that you know what they mean when you read the instructions.

 The second thing was it had to be affordable. Now I know that affordable is a relative term and everyone’s financial situation is different. To me affordable is not in the $700 dollar range.  So with my limited criteria I began my search. I looked at the Garmin and I liked the features and ease of use. The biggest drawback is the price being North of $700 dollars.

 I was never able to obtain the Sportdog Tek.  Everything I read I liked and the price was better. Then they brought out the second generation and the price went up. The common theme here is the price.  So as I was getting my information together I discovered the Pathfinder.  The price was significantly lower and it appeared to me that the features are similar to the other systems.

It  comes in a hard case with the collar, the GPS connector, a charger,instruction manual, test light, contact point extensions and non stimulation contact point covers. As a caveat it comes packed much better than pictured. The picture shows it repacked after a full season of using the system.

 To get started you have to download the app to your smartphone. The app is easily downloaded from Google Play or the App Store. I downloaded it last year and there have been a few updates that have removed any glitches that were in the system. The only glitch that I had experienced was one time the compass was pointing in the wrong direction. I turned off the app and restarted it and it corrected the glitch. It has performed flawlessly since.

 The  downloading of the app requires a wifi network,if not there will be some data usage.  I did it over the home wifi and no data use was necessary. After downloading there is no more data used while running the system. So I can look at a satellite view of where the dog is and not use any data to track him. Speaking of dogs being tracked let me take this time to mention that the system is capable of tracking up to twenty one dogs at a time. I have not tested this as I only have the one.

 The GPS connector is the piece that ties it all together.This is the piece that talks to the phone and the collar. It comes on a lanyard but also included is a belt clip that can be attached so you can wear it. I personally carry it in a pocket in my vest that keeps it secure.

  The collar is a solid piece of equipment that is durable and I can attest that it is waterproof. My dog has worn it swimming in the Black River in N.C.and numerous ponds and water holes throughout the year. It has an easy to reach power button, easy to view led light to see if it is on and a long strap that will fit any dog that you are trying to place the collar on.

 Now back to the phone. Once the app is running and the collar and GPS connector are powered up you will see the first screen. This is the map page. This page gives you a map view of where you and the dog are located. You can use a topographic view or a satellite view. I like the satellite view.

  A quick shake of the phone and the app will switch to the compass screen. This is the one that I use the most. I really like to know where the dog is and how far away he is.  Along with a direction and distance it also tells you which collars you are tracking at the time.

 Another shake of the phone and this is the training page. You can view the map on the top of the screen and at the bottom of the screen is the controls for the training collar. You can set the power from 1 – 100. Set the collar to nick or constant or use the tone. The tone on this collar is the loudest one that I have heard on a collar and there is no doubt that the dog will hear it.

  There are a large number of features that are really too numerous to list. They range from geo fencing to setting the collar to let you know when the dog is running or on point. For those that run hounds there is a treeing alert. These alerts are done with a vibration or a voice and the icon on the screen.

 So during a hunt I keep the phone in a pocket in the front of my vest. This pocket is large and it is easy to get the phone in and out so I can check it and see where the dog is. The GPS connector is in another pocket. I don’t look at this as any extra equipment compared to the other collars. I say this because most of us carry a phone then the controller for the collar that you are using. So I am carrying the same amount of gear but I feel that the GPS connector is lighter than the control unit for the other collars.

 I check my phone and slide it back in the pocket out of the way.  This simple act has made the last year hunting so much more enjoyable. I don’t have to hack after my dog. I know where he is and I can actually let him hunt at a range that gets us through the pine meadows of the areas that we hunt.

 So with all the features of the more expensive collars, the simplicity of use and most important to me the better price I would highly recommend the Pathfinder to anyone that is ready to track and train with a state of the art piece of equipment.

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