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my position and complement my map and compass. If you travel by ATV, you will want to ensure the GPS would fit into a handlebar bracket for hands-free operation. There are four considerations that


I use when helping someone select a new model and narrow down the op- tions. First, decide how much you want to spend. Get a price baseline from Walmart and Amazon.com. Then check a manufacturer’s website (such as www.garmin.com) for rebate offers. Garmin’s Venture (HCX) and GarminMap 60Cx, are two great units at modest prices. Second, ask friends with GPS re-


ceivers what their recommendations are. One size definitely doesn’t fit all! A hunter might opt for a model with a 2-way radio and a “data link” such as the Garmin Rino series. Third, as an instructor I have


found older folks and those not tech savvy do better with a GPS that has the push buttons on the front (GarminMap 60/62 series or the De- Lorme PN60); it’s more intuitive and less frustrating than units with the buttons on the side. Fourth, determine if the model is


a good fit for you. Is the screen size adequate? Will it be too technical for you to operate? Can you operate the unit with gloves on? How long do the batteries last? Stay away from a used GPS. Your


purchase should be free of defects and malfunctions so I am leery about Craigslist or some company on the In- ternet that sells refurbished receivers. It doesn’t have to be expensive to


be accurate. All receivers will be ac- curate to at least +/-15 meters and some are accurate to +/-3 meters. That said, giving any receiver the time to adequately calculate position infor- mation is critical. This is especially true of my older models such as a Ma- gellan 315 or a Garmin 12. Whatever you buy, keep the receipt and register the unit with the manufacturer soon.


After Purchase Once you buy a GPS don’t put it in


the closet, or store it in your survival kit. Take it out and use it — you can’t break it. Navigation isn’t hard but it’s a perishable skill. Practice with the new receiver by taking a hike near home or a local park. Observe how the displays change as you maneuver over ground. Mark a few waypoints. Scroll from display page to display page as you walk. Return to your saved waypoint and observe the com- pass and pointer in action. Visit the manufacturer’s website once every six months for free up-


WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM


grades to the GPS’s internal software. A simple download will make your gear current. Put in fresh batteries at the be-


ginning of a hunt or when scouting. If you leave your GPS on all day in the field, change the batteries nightly. Consider lithium batteries, they last longer and work better in cold tem- peratures. Carry a spare set of four


Many hunters opt for a GPS with a wa- terproof FRS/GMRS radio, barometric altimeter, electronic compass, NOAA weather radio and mapping software. The Garmin Rino 520HCx offers 5 watts of transmitting power, a color display and a high-sensitivity GPS receiver.


batteries in your daypack. If the GPS has an electronic compass you will need to calibrate the compass after changing batteries. Lastly, determine which batteries work best in your re- ceiver — Duracell copper tops are my personal choice. Adjust the “zoom” setting on the


map page to see what works best for you. I keep my GPS set to 800'. There,


GPS TERMS AND SETUP


Coordinates refer to a geographic-grid system and pinpoint your position in the world. The most common is latitude and longitude, though many outdoorsmen quickly shift to Universal Transverse Mer- cator (UTM) because of its simplicity. Waypoints are navigation coordinates that have been saved to memory within the GPS. Most receivers will hold 500. Find/Go To is the navigation function of the receiver. It is this function that will “steer” you to your destination. Compass – An electronic partner to a magnetic compass. The GPS compass is dependent on batteries so don’t leave your magnetic compass home. Not all receivers have a true electronic compass; check the owner’s manual. All GPS receivers will pro- vide compass information such as bearing and heading. For those models that don’t have a true electronic compass, compass information is based upon movement. *


Always mark a waypoint before leaving the truck or trailhead. Give the waypoint a name such as “truck.”


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