alphabundleBy Dan Kidder
Managing Editor

If you run dogs after wild game, having the means to accurately track them as they chase their prey is a necessity.  The Alpha GPS Track and Train system from Garmin with Tri-Tronics  dog training technology offers amazing accuracy, an intuitive interface, and top of the line dog training technology all in a single compact handheld unit and collar.

The Garmin Alpha 100 handheld unit provides ease of use with a 3” color touchscreen that can even be operated with gloves. It is pre-loaded with 100K U.S. TOPO maps, and electronic compass, barometric altimeter, and wireless communication with other units, with the ability to send preset messages. It is IPX7 waterproof, and operates off of a replaceable rechargeable battery pack that will run for hours on a single charge, depending upon use. The handheld can track up to 20 different collars, and even comes with the ability to add dogs that are already on the hunt without being near the receiver. This is especially useful if you want to meet up with another hunter and coalesce all of your data into a single BaseCamp map to see the area covered. BaseCamp will also allow you to track dogs in real time with ANT+ technology.

When multiple dogs have been added to the Alpha 100, each dog will be displayed as a different color marker with the dog’s name displayed. This allows you to easily tell which dog is where without having to remember coloring coding. In compass mode, the handheld with also show you the direction each dog is traveling, whether they are on point, stopped, have prey treed, walking or running, and their distance from the handheld.

Each dog has a separate screen that will give the total distance they have traveled, their average speed, current state (treed, on point, running, walking, etc.), and battery level of their collar.

The  Tri-Tronics Technology allows you to communicate with the dog through either a tone, or a constant or momentary stimulation of the TT 10 electronic collar. This can be used to train your dog for a variety of activities, as well as signal it to return to your location. Additionally, you can remotely activate lights on the collar of each dog to make them visible from a distance, or to blink quickly or slowly. You can also adjust the reporting interval of the collar to broadcast its location from every 2.5 seconds to every 2 minutes.

The TT 10 collar comes in a variety of colored straps so you can keep each dog’s collar organized. The handheld unit will not only track the location of the collars, but will also track the location of other Alpha 100 handhelds, so each hunter can have their own handheld unit and also track the location of each dog and each hunter.

On top of all of the tracking capabilities, the Alpha 100 handheld is a first rate standalone GPS receiver. You can easily mark waypoints, navigate, track altitude, and do everything a regular GPS unit does, with the addition of providing accurate long-range dog tracking and training. It even has a remote for the Garmin VIRB action camera.

The range of the Alpha 100 is up to 9 miles with the included extended range antenna. It comes with both a an AC wall charger as well as a 12 volt DC car charger, regular and an extended range antennas, both short and long contact points and a wrench to swap them out, and a nice sturdy carrying bag with plenty of room for multiple collars and all of the accessories.

DSC_0907I have been testing the Alpha on Diogenes, a Search and Rescue dog in training. The Alpha has tremendous value as a search aid, as it can show me areas the dog has been through without finding anything, and it allows me to be further away from the dog than I could be without the tracker. The ability to download multiple collars into BaseCamp lets incident commanders quickly see areas that still need to be searched. The ability for the collar to transmit the status of the dog, whether it is moving, or treed or pointing, can let searchers know whether a find has been made and the exact location to send aid. This would be especially useful in cadaver and avalanche searches as the dog could remain at the scene to assist searchers in quickly locating the site.

Overall, the Alpha GPS Track and Train System from Garmin is a rugged and versatile tool for those who use dogs in the great outdoors. It offers a wide range of features and benefits that make it a great investment. The ability to combine data from multiple units allows fantastic collaboration. All of this comes in a single package from Garmin, a company that is at the leading edge of GPS technology. Check out the Alpha at your local Sportsman’s Warehouse Gift Bar.