Hound hunting is truly a traditional method of hunting in the America. The first European settlers brought hounds with them to the New World and they've been running, treeing and baying game here ever since. If you never owned, trained and hunted your own hound it may be hard to understand. However, the bond between a hound and his master is a unique one. The sound of a hound trailing game enlivens the houndsman's soul to an almost child-like glee - truly a rare human pleasure. I started raccoon hunting when I was 14 years old, but then got out of it for almost 20 years. Recently, my passion for hound hunting was reignited when I got a Bluff-Creek-bred American Plott from breeder Steve Herd in 2015.
We can’t run bear with hounds in Arkansas, so I use these big-game-bred Plotts on raccoon. Honestly, coonhunting doesn’t take near the commitment that big-game hunting does. I like being able to go on a two-hour hunt on a weeknight with a single hound. This is isn’t possible in big game hunting. I like that coonhunting takes place at night so that I can work and do family stuff during the day. However, coonhunting has become a family event. I rarely go alone, and almost have along one of my children.
My Bluff-Creek-bred 18-month old Plott, Jedi, treed on a hot summer night in Arkansas. He's got a long ways to go before he's a "coondog" but he's showing some promise. I've got the Alpha 100 & TT115 collar on him that I got in a bundle from Double U Hunting Supply. (Retail $799.00)
Three weeks ago I acquired a Garmin Alpha 100 with TT15 Collar Combo from Double U Hunting Supply. This is a “track and train” combo unit - it’s a GPS for tracking your hound and a “shock collar” for training. I was using a Garmin Astro (simply a GPS tracking unit) and TriTronics Classic 70 G3 (only a training/shock unit). Using the two units at once was cumbersome. Getting both features into one unit with the Alpha is the only way to go. I don’t have to keep track of two controllers, two collars and two different chargers. It’s all here.
The Garmin Alpha 100 and TT15 collar is a GPS and a training collar (shock) all in the same unit. Garmin products, in my opinion, are the top-of-the-line hound tracking units. www.dusupply.com
I’m still learning the more complex features of the Alpha, however it comes with 100K pre-loaded topo map of United States. I find the maps to be sufficient for what I need, but have plugged in my Arkansas OnXMap chip. I’m going to install the Garmin Birdseye Satellite Imagery (you get one year free with purchase, but must be installed.) This turns the topo map into a satellite image. This is handy to get a good idea of what your hound is doing. Did he strike in the middle of an open field or a patch of hardwoods? Is he treed in somebody’s backyard or in the middle of nowhere? Satellite images can answer these questions.
This unit can track up to 20 dogs. It measures the dog’s speed and distance traveled on a hunt. It comes with all types of customizations for “tree” signals. It’s touchscreen, has an electronic compass, barometric altimeter, hunt/fish calendar, sun/moon information and area calculation programs. The unit doesn’t take replaceable batteries, but has a rechargeable lithium battery that stays charged for up to 20 hours. I didn’t think I would like this, but I’ve grown to like it. With my Astro unit I always carried multiple AA batteries. I probably spent $100 a year on them.
I found the setup to be simple, but learning how to utilize all the features takes a little bit of time. I really like this unit and I won't hunt again without one in hand.
*I can’t say enough about customer service of Double U Hunting Supply. Double U is run by houndsmen are available to answer any questions. They also stand behind their products with great warranties. I like that this company is an “activist” company. Owner, Buddy Woodbury, is always fighting for a pro-hound agenda. He is currently the president of the National Hound and Tree Dog Association (www.nhtda.org) and has been supportive of hound associations across the country.
Coon season opens in July in Arkansas. Hunting them this time of year is a great tool for farmers wanting to keep the populations in check. Notice the TT15 collar on this hound. It allows me to track the dog up to nine miles away. I can also tone or shock the hound from that same distance.