Find Success with a GPS
Today’s Global Positioning System (GPS) options available to hunters and anglers are more accurate, advanced and interactive than ever before. With the wide array of dual-purpose units, hand-held models and map chips available to sportsmen, along with the growing availability of downloadable state and federal land maps through various agencies, knowing where you are and where you can hunt or fish is just a glance away. The friendly staff at your local Runnings has the information you need on the units that fit your style of exploring the outdoors, whether it’s fishing, hunting, camping or hiking and the suggestions to get you to where you want to be and back again.
Most models of sonar units for your fishing boat are now GPS capable, making them dual purpose while on the water. Beyond just finding fish, being able to mark waypoints will help you be able to get back on fish week after week, season after season. Units with GPS in all price ranges from Lowrance, Humminbird and Garmin are available at your local Runnings, complete with map chip slots for expansions that show depths, contours and structural elements for waters in your area. Brands such as Navionics and LakeMaster produce dozens of versions of their map chips for popular regional lakes throughout the upper Midwest and are also state-specific to provide even greater detail for those flows that might be a bit off the beaten path and under the radar.
The best part about utilizing a sonar/GPS combo unit is that the information stored on it and the chosen map chip can be moved to an equivalent winter sonar/GPS system as well. When marking summertime fishing structures, it often pays to go back and visit the area when winter sets in, as those waypoints will provide a good starting area for hardwater angling. In many cases, the chips and saved waypoints can even be transferred into hand-held GPS units for extreme portability.
Handhelds & Chips
For the hunter, handheld GPS units have replaced a variety of atlases, foldable maps, and county platbooks, further streamlining the preparation process, putting bird and deer hunters back in productive spots with ease every autumn. With offerings from Garmin available at Runnings, there’s a handheld that matches every hunting style. Affordable GPS options like the half-pocket-sized Garmin eTrex series serve every need in the field, while staying conveniently tucked out of the way. Many units also include a camera with some impressive megapixels. Standard features on many units include track lines to show your most recent movements, moon phase calendar, and daily hunting and fishing times.
With chips from companies like onX designed specifically for hunters which show both public and private land in each state, along with landowner name, the power of a portable unit can’t be understated. The advancement of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) has allowed many state agencies to create downloadable maps that detail the public lands available for hunting, along with the private lands enrolled in public access programs such as Minnesota’s Walk-In Access and North Dakota’s PLOTS programs. Both can be downloaded and installed into many current GPS units via those agencies’ websites, further increasing the powerful information available to hunters.
Using GPS units increases hunting and fishing success exponentially, by providing a direct link to previous success and an easy line of sight to get back home. The first thing many hunters do when arriving at a public land or an unfamiliar hunting place is to mark the parking area with a waypoint so that in case of emergency, or when darkness sets in, it’s easy to find the way back to the truck. It’s also important to utilize these tools by marking productive spots or unique sightings so that information can be archived right in the unit. Many GPS models allow significant notations with each waypoint entered, so after the hunting or fishing trip, make sure to add more information about what was observed or the success that occurred.
For example, many muskie anglers will mark a spot where they encountered a big fish, but were unable to connect with it, knowing that they can go back to the spot and try again the following day or week, because the fish of 10,000 casts is very territorial. The same is true for ruffed grouse hunters. As thunderbirds are very localized, marking an area on an old logging trail where flushes occurred will highlight the places to go next time, as odds are the birds will still be in the same habitat. Make a few quick notes right after the trip and rename waypoints from their numerical designation to something more memorable and alter the icon to a fish or game symbol to help sort out what was observed.
With the wide variety of GPS options and integration available between seasonal units on the boat, in the field or on the ice, sportsmen have never had a better way of finding the path to success. Beyond being helpful in telling direction, GPS technology puts more fish in the boat and more birds in the bag every season, while helping outdoors enthusiasts go where they’re supposed to without getting lost. Talk to a friendly Runnings representative in the sporting goods section today and get ready for seasons of successful trips with the help of the highly-advanced satellite and mapping technologies available at your fingertips in today’s modern GPS units.