Product Review

By Mike Franklin

Meet Astro! No, not the Jetson’s dog, but Garmin’s technologically advanced GPS dog tracking machine! First, there was Astro 220. That was good. Then came great…in the form of Astro 320! You are probably asking yourself what makes Astro 320 so technologically advanced? Well, the Astro 320 has some amazing features that can benefit you in many ways.
Benefit #1: The Astro 320 is a GPS…almost like the GPS you probably have in your vehicle. You cannot enter an address or calculate a route, but, you can see roads, some terrain, rivers, creeks, and if you upgrade to some of the loadable maps, you can get fancy and see trails, street names, restaurants, and more. If you buy the Birdseye Satellite Imagery map, you can actually see enough topography detail to use your Astro 320 handheld as a way to explore a new area and maybe discover a prime new hunting spot! The picture to the lower left is the area around Garmin!
Benefit #2: The Astro keeps track of things…including, if needed, where you put your keys! The Astro 320 keeps track of up to 12 dogs.You can enter your dog’s name and then a dog symbol will appear on the map. You can choose the dog’s ‘path’ color, get statistics such as how far he has traveled, how fast he is running, the direction, and even the length of time he has been running. You can mark a waypoint (Astro comes with several waypoint symbols preloaded). Then, when you’re up before the sun, use the Astro’s screen light to guide you silently into the woods using your waypoint and walk straight to your deer stand to get the next big B&C bruiser! One customer told us a story after purchasing his Garmin Astro 320. He was out getting ready for trial season and had the Astro 320 Handheld in his pocket and put the DC-40 wireless collars on his beagles. The dogs had been doing great but suddenly he didn’t hear one dog anymore. He looked at the screen on his Astro 320 Handheld and discovered the dog was now on a road, traveling too fast to just be running, and realized the dog must’ve been picked up. The customer called the police who met him at an intersection and they literally ‘tracked down’ the thief by tracking the dog. Thankfully, the crook was too dumb to remove the Astro DC-40 wireless collar from the dog! The police pulled the crook over and the customer recovered his dog, unharmed. One dog’s life saved.

Benefit #3: Peace of mind during training and hunting. The Garmin Astro 320 Handheld tracks your dog and has a ‘treeing’ alert. Coon hunters can track their dogs during training sessions or while hunting and the Astro will alert when the dog has ‘treed.’ You can verify this then reward or correct the dog as needed. If you are a beagle hunter, use the Astro Handheld to see the pattern the rabbit is running by watching your dog’s ‘path color’ on the screen. That tricky rabbit you’ve been aiming for and can’t ever seem to get a shot at? Guess what? The Garmin Astro 320 is about to improve your chances for revenge for all the times that bunny left your dogs lost on a check! You’ll see that instead of a perfect circle, the rabbit is actually running a figure 8, so now you can position yourself for a better shot. If you are teaching a young person to hunt, this helps you put the person in a prime spot to connect with the game. Remember, while Garmin Astro 320 will help improve your chances of a connection with the game, it DOES NOT relieve you of your duty to make sure the shot is ‘clear’ behind the game at which you are aiming. Safety is always important and when in doubt, DO NOT SHOOT! The following story happened to us just this past hunting season. We were on this island not far from home with four of our dogs down and a friend’s two dogs. All beagles. All seasoned rabbit dogs. We’d been in some thickets and could not get a fix on the rabbit. We looked at our Astro 320 and saw the pattern the dogs were running. A very wide figure 8, over and over. So, we repositioned. I raised my gun, ‘leading’ the rabbit and knew the dogs were a ways off. I released the safety and could hear the rabbit scurrying through the underbrush in a nearby thicket. I watched and waited. Out from the brush a rabbit scurried past. I swung the gun and doggone it if that rascally rabbit didn’t evade me as it literally dove under a tree root, somehow making a breakneck turn, and running out the back of the root pausing just long enough to look over his shoulder and taunt me! BANG! I shot him and went to collect my prize as the dogs approached. But, they kept going although I was hollering ‘dead, dead.’ The problem is…that WASN’T the rabbit the dogs were on and I helplessly watched the Astro Handheld as the dogs covered the exact same figure 8 pattern…again! This was a decoy rabbit, no doubt deployed by the master rabbit the dogs were still chasing. Not being able to bear the thought of that tricky rabbit living to taunt us another day, we set out at two different points of the second half of the figure 8 to catch the rabbit. This time, we were ready! And yet, somehow, the rabbit slipped past me. I think he must’ve had some kind of invisible shield he deployed because the only thing running past me was my own dogs! So, my chance at a shot was gone, but, my friend, also named Mike, got ready. The dogs were getting tired. Four hours of running this crazy bunny had them wondering why we were all such bad shots. You could feel the tension; the other Mike raised his gun. The dogs are getting closer, closer, and then…A CHECK! Next thing you know, my 9 year old puppy trainer female squalls, my wife’s 6” tall Otis bred female screeches…we’ve got a jump! My friend focused, gun ready, the dogs were pecking it out, then I heard my friend yell TREE, watched him jump the root of the same tree the decoy had gone through and BANG! He got the rabbit! All I can say is, the rabbit died a noble death and I could not have been prouder of the dogs. Thanks to the Astro and great dog work, we finally got a bead on a rabbit that had taunted us for weeks!
Benefit #4: The Garmin Astro 320 goes the distance! The Garmin Astro 320 has a range of 9 miles. This range is ‘best case scenario’ and obtained on unobstructed terrain. For mountainous terrain or thick forested areas, you can purchase a long-range antenna that connects to the Astro 320 Handheld. Our friend and fellow hog hunter and guide, Mark Kennedy (903-539-3336 pictured with Cole Foster) uses the Astro 320 and wireless DC-40 collars on his bay dogs and on his catch dogs during competitions and/or on guided hunts with customers. Hog dogs can run for miles scenting a hog before it is cornered. With the Garmin Astro 320, Mark can know exactly where his bay dogs are at all times, especially when a hog is cornered. Then, he can go in and release his catch dogs and finish off the hog. Mark travels for competitions and for guided hunts. To get the best ‘lay of the land,’ Mark purchased the Garmin Birdseye Satellite which provides amazing satellite pictures of the area Mark chooses. For example, if Mark knows he has customers in Mississippi to take on a guided hog hunt, he will use the Birdseye Satellite imagery map on his computer to locate the area he will be hunting. Then, he can enhance/drill-down on the area more specifically and load all that information onto his Astro 320 Handheld. When Mark and his hog dogs arrive in Mississippi to take his clients hog hunting, he is prepared to give his clients an adventure! Thanks to the information he preloaded onto his Astro 320 Handheld, Mark knows exactly where to find his hunting spot, what the terrain will look like, what roads will take him to the most promising places, and he knows what obstacles are present, such as rivers, creeks, wide valleys, etc… With Mark’s new long-range antenna, he will be able to get reception where other GPS trackers cannot. What does all this mean? Reliability, success, and happy customers! When Garmin put the Astro 320 together, they were thinking of all types of hunters that use dogs to track down their game. Garmin created a product that can go the distance…just the like the dogs.
These are just some of the great benefits of the Garmin Astro 320 and DC-40 wireless collars. Now that you’ve met the Garmin Astro 320, you can see why you need such a technologically advanced tool in the field! The Astro 320 is available for purchase from OKIE DOG SUPPLY, www.OKIEDOGSUPPLY.com,or contact me directly at 918-633-3519, or email me at mike@okiedogsupply.com.

Author: Tamah DePriest

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