This section of Von Meistern is devoted to recommendations of products: hunting gear, training gear, books, training videos, organizations, and whatever else comes to mind having to do with hunting upland game and pointing dogs. All recommended products have been thoroughly used and tested by me. No one has paid me to recommend the following:
The Tri-tronics Sport Upland G3 combo is a reliable and effective electronic-collar with a beeper unit. It has 10 Stimulation levels, with a nick and a 10 second (max) button. Up to 3 dogs can be connected to the transmitter. The switch to change which dog is getting stimulus is not easily bumped out-of-place. Some Tri-Tronics models use a toggle switch which could be bumped, and you stimulate the wrong dog by accident.
The current beeper is a small compact unit, that can be remotely turned silent. It has 8 settings with different sound combinations. Personally I don’t like listening to a beeper, it is annoying, and pheasants can get spooked by the noise. Having a remote-controlled beeper unit is a real plus, you can use it when necessary and turn it off the rest of the time.
I have used this unit for many years. It has proven to be reliable and very easy to use. The 10 stimulation levels have proven to be more than adequate. The highest levels are probably to high for most dogs, however. The EXP receiver is rechargeable, while the transmitter and beeper are battery-powered. The battery in the beeper lasts a surprisingly long time.
Garmin purchased Tri-tronics and as far as I can tell is replacing the Sport Upland G3. Garmin’s unit is called the Delta Upland. It has an all new transmitter and receiver, but uses the Tri-Tronics beeper unit. One of the features that really intrigues me is that the receiver has a bark limiter built-in. I do not own a Delta Upland unit, nor have I used one. I would like to try one out. We do however, own two Garmin Bark Limiters.
The Garmin Bark Limiter is a quality product. I have two Tri-tronics bark collars and two Garmin Bark Limiters. The Tri-tronics units work well, but the design and durability of the Garmin units is superior. I had a couple of other brands in the past and they were vastly inferior to either the Tri-tronics or the Garmin.
The reason we have bark collars is neighborhood activity tends to set the pack to barking. The bark collars are necessary to be a good neighbor.
The reason I like the Garmin unit so much better than the Tri-tronics model has two factors. One the Garmin Bark Limiter is much more resistant to being chewed on by another dog. If you have several dogs and they are in a pack, at some point someone will chew on the unit. The Tri-Tronics units when chewed on were no longer waterproof. One of the Garmins only had scratches on the body when it was tested by dog teeth. You can see from the picture of the Garmin it was chewed on pretty hard.
The second reason is the ease of changing the settings, and checking the battery charge. It couldn’t get any easier the way the Garmin unit is designed.
Regular Dog Collars:
Hands down the best, longest lasting dog collar on the market is the Dura-Lon brand. Dogsunlimited.com has custom order available. The custom order collars have five hardware configurations, with twelve different colors to pick from. One inch or 3/4 inch widths as well as a choice of a brass nameplate or a stainless steel nameplate. I recommend the stainless steel nameplate with the machine stamp rivets.
The collar is very chew resistant, and will last for years. If it gets dirty some dish soap and a scrubber will clean it right up. The stainless steel nameplate holds up to serious wear and tear.
If you need a plain but durable replacement 3/4 inch collar for a bark collar, Cabelas has a line of collars perfect for the job. The stock bark collar strap isn’t chew resistant. Cabelas line of collars are made of material similar to the Dura-Lon brand. This means that they are chew resistant. These collars will last a very long time. They also come in many bright collars, and can be cut to fit. I use the bright red color on the bark unit and they are a lot easier to find when not being used.
Leads and Check Cords:
Mendota Hi-Viz yellow super check cord is a great check cord. Why is it great? Durable, easy to see, doesn’t collect sticky weed seeds, doesn’t fray, doesn’t tangle, and it floats. What more can you ask for?
I also like the Mendota Hi-Viz yellow slip lead for basically the same reasons, except they aren’t designed to float. They do allow you to get a lead on your dog fast.
Bird Launchers and Dummy Launchers:
We have two DT-Systems remote bird launchers. One for pheasant and duck, and one for pigeon and quail. Both are remote-controlled and have a beeper to help you find them in the weeds. We have used both extensively. You can run up to 16 launchers with one remote.
They are really handy to have for live bird training. I used to have a manual launcher and more often than not, the thing refused to release the bird. Or the dog got tangled up in the line used to pull the release.
The Pheasant sized launcher could use a stronger servo to release the lock on the launcher. The larger launcher has a bigger bar to pull free. Another thing that could use some improvement is the manual control on the receiver to reset it for the next launch. Resetting the receiver for the next launch can get frustrating. A reset button on the transmitter would be ideal. The easier to work the equipment the less frustration, the better the training will go.
Over all I think the DT-Systems remote bird launchers are a quality product that could be even better with a couple of tweaks.
The DT Super Pro dummy launcher is another handy training tool. It is well made and ours has had hundreds of firings. Rango especially loves to retrieve launched dummies. Dummies come in two colors, bright red and white. Dogs don’t see red well, red is used for human sight. Easier for us to see. I can confidently say, do not use red when firing over water. Dogs have a hard time picking up red dummies in dark water. White works better.
The dummies themselves are the weak link with this product. Be prepared, the soft dummies will fail you at some point. The more powerful the blank ammo you use, the sooner the dummies will fail. CCI blank ammo comes in three power levels: Green (light), yellow (medium), and Red (heavy).
The small dummies travel farther and with less recoil than the larger dummies. I stick with the small dummies, they also seem to hold up a little better than the larger ones. There are some hard dummies on the market that resemble birds. I have not used any of those due to their cost. Someday I will have to break down and buy one of the hard dummies, so I can try it out.