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There's no doubt that hunting with an e-collar just makes things easier, more relaxed, and more safe. Honestly, I don't know how a lot of the old-timers did it back in the day.
I wouldn't say that choosing a hunting dog e-collar is necessarily the easiest thing to do, but it's not as complicated as some of your other hunting gear decisions. It's quite easy to narrow down the top brands, their top options, and what you need to look for when you pick one out!
Wait... that's exactly what I'm going to do for you in this blog. Take a look at all the information below before taking that final step and be sure to leave a comment below letting us all know what you decided to go with! Good luck this year.
When you're looking to purchase a new hunting e-collar, or upgrade from your existing one, the easiest place to start is with the available brands. Looking for the top e-collar brands available honestly isn't that difficult - there are a few top options that will help narrow down your search.
Let's start with some of the best brands and a few highlights:
1. Garmin: In late 2011, Garmin purchased Tri-Tronics as a way to enter the hunting e-collar world. Since then they've been developing some of the most advanced, durable collars with the introduction of their GPS technology.
2. SportDOG: Rebranded in 2003, SportDOG offers a broad line of superior products aimed at satisfying any avid hunter.
3. D.T. Systems: Since 1983, DT Systems has focused on two things - durability and dependability. They offer a wide range of e-collar options for every type of hunter.
4. Dogtra: With over 30 years experience in the industry, Dogtra has developed some of the the highest quality e-collar training devices. Each year the offer a wide range of collars for different training conditions and dog types.
5. Educator: While this brand isn't your standard hunting e-collar option, they are definitely worth a look. Additionally, they are one one of the few manufacturers based in the United States
Over the past decade or so GPS e-collars have become increasingly popular. This technology puts hunters at ease as they know exactly where their dogs are at all times.
Now, if you're simply hunting small preserves or you have a close-ranging dog, a tracking collar might not be the best fit for you. These devices are much more expensive than a standard handheld, and the collars are slightly more bulky.
However, if you hunt in wide open spaces and your dog has been known to jet off a time or two, you might want to check these out. You can always purchase a GPS enabled handheld and pair it with a more simple collar in case the situation doesn't call for one.
I've been using a Garmin e-collar for the past 8 years, and I stay pretty up-to-date on all the information available in the e-collar world. Looking at my experience using hunting collars, and everything that's available today, here's why I what focus on before purchasing one:
You'll notice that many of today's e-collars are getting more and more advanced - incorporating a wide range of features, including GPS. To house everything, a few brands have moved away from just toggles and buttons, to building out a full resolution display on your handheld. Of course, there's pros and cons to each of these options, but keep an eye on these capabilities - more isn't always better!
Long gone are the days of two stimulation settings - on and off. No wonder dogs didn't enjoy seeing these things before you put them on!
Many of today's top brands offer several levels of stimulation, with the most being around 21. Additionally, you're now able to utilize momentary and continuous stimulation depending on what you need it for.
And don't forget about vibration and tone. Incorporating these two additional features will go a long ways in introducing your puppy to e-collar and opening up your range of command options.
Most hunting dog e-collars reach a range of a ½ mile to 1 mile with long range models showcasing a range close to or around 2+ miles. However, if you're really looking for the maximum option, there are some collars that go up to 9 miles!
When evaluating e-collars and the number of dogs each handheld can connect to, you'll quickly realize that there are basically 3 categories. Some handhelds are limited to 1 collar, while others can connect to up to 3, and then there are a limited few that track and train up to 20 at a time - but of course these are the high resolution display ones.
When choosing a handheld device, always leave yourself room for another dog, and don't forget about considering the fact that you might need another belly collar for "Whoa" training.
Battery life for collars really depend on the capabilities, size and features, with most lasting around 10-40 hours, while some extend all the way up to 60+. Additionally, this is the case with handhelds as well.
Having a waterproof collar while training and hunting is a must-have in my book! And with some of the handhelds and collars being so expensive, you want to make sure they are fully protected from the elements. Confirming your device is waterproof will go a long way in ensuring it's going to last you for years to come!
After narrowing down your final few picks, make sure to visit the brands website to confirm. Most of these collar options are going to be covered by a one-year limited warranty, but things do change over time so I would double check just in case.
If you're like me, you like to find out what to avoid at all costs when making your final choice with a new piece of hunting gear. Based on my many years of using e-collars I would avoid buying an e-collar that's not waterproof, and one that doesn't have vibration and tone... and here's why!
First, if you're doing any type of hunting or training with a dog, you know you're going to be out in the rain, or at minimum, hunting in wet or damp conditions. Also, you're dog's e-collar uses electronics. As soon as this stuff gets wets, your day is done! As a result, you need something that's going to be completely waterproof - no exceptions.
Secondly, having a collar with plenty of levels of stimulation is key, but don't forget about vibration and tone. Using vibration is a great starting point for introducing an e-collar to a puppy. It's a very gradual way to let them know what the collar can do without first stepping right into electric stimulation. Additionally, having a tone option on your collar allows you to give your dog a warning, give the dog praise, or even use it for silent commands.
Also, in case you're interested, we have a great blog summarizing the Best Upland Hunting Vests as well!