Beeper Collars Buyer's Guide by Steve Snell
Beeper collars are an excellent way to keep up with pointing dogs in heavy cover at longer ranges than a bell. We carry Scott, Lovett's, Tri-Tronics, SportDOG, DT Systems, & Dogtra brands of beeper collars.
All About Beeper Collars
I am what you would call a "Beeper Junkie." I first started using them when we started quail hunting in West Texas and I have never looked back. I grew up using bells on my bird dogs hunting in the cutovers and pine woods of Mississippi.
While I still love the sound of a bell, there is nothing I prefer to the sound of a beeper collar kicking in to "point" mode. The other major problem with bells is trying to locate a dog on point in heavy cover. Once you can no longer hear the bell you do not know if the dog is on-point or if he is out of range.
How Beeper Collars Work
Beeper collars use a motion sensor to tell the hunter what your dog is doing. Most beeper collars can be adjusted to run / point mode - making one beep every 5 to 10 seconds while the the dog is moving and then changing to a beep every second when the dog stops. They also have point mode only. This means the collar makes no sound while the dog is moving, but kicks in to "point" mode when the dog stops.
How to Select a Beeper Collar for You & Your Dog
To select the correct beeper collar for you and your dogs, you will need to look at your needs and physical requirements. It is very difficult to say there is a "perfect beeper collar" for everyone, because there are many issues that go into play with selecting beeper collars. I am always searching for the best beeper to fit my needs and the correct combination of collars that will work best with my hunting dogs.
Most beeper collars are separate units that you activate when you put the collar on the dog. It will run until you turn the collar off at the end of your hunt.
Some beepers have remote controls that work in combination with an electronic training collar. The transmitter allows you to turn the beeper on and off as the cover changes or as your dog ranges out of your sight. See Combination Beeper / Training Collars.
We also have a remote beeper that is not part of a training collar. The
DT 809 Remote Beeper has a small "keychain" size transmitter that allows you to turn the beeper on and off or change modes from up to 250 yards.
Beeper Collars -- Range
The first issue is range. Some beeper collars are louder than others. If you have big running birddogs than you will need a louder beeper than someone using flushing dogs in a CRP field.
Most folks confuse volume with range. Some beepers are loud, but the pitch that they produce does not carry as far as a lower pitch sound.
Most of the beeper collar manufacturers will give you a stated range for their product.
What they don't tell you is that this depends on several factors. This first is your hearing. Some folks have really good hearing and some do not. My hearing is still pretty good and I can pick up some of our beepers as far as 800 yards in the best situation (low wind and little cover).
I can also hear some beeper collars better than my dad could. Generally we lose the higher range of our hearing as we get older. We carry a couple of "low toned" beepers. Some of our veteran bird hunters can hear them better than a high pitched beeper collar.
Low-Tone Baritone Beeper Collars: See the LOVETT'S LTH Beeper Collar 6 in 1 Beeper Collar, BTB 809 Remote Activated Baritone Beeper, and the
BTB 800 Baritone Beeper.
Beeper Collars -- Factors Affecting Range
Wind noise is a major factor. No matter what anybody says, if the wind is blowing 40 to 50 mph, even the best beeper collar will be hard to hear.
Cover and terrain also make a big difference. Sound will carry better in open, flat land. We quail hunt in an area with lots of gulleys and a dog on point can sound like he is a long way off, when he is really just down in a hole.
Size of the Beeper on the Collar
It is not uncommon for my dogs to wear three or four collar straps when they hunt. This includes a regular ID collar, Remote training collar, tracking collar, and a beeper. Some folks have joked that I need to breed some long-necked dogs.
Some of this can be fixed by using a remote beeper combo or using one of the add on beepers such as the Accessory Beeper from Tri-Tronics or the SportDOG Deluxe Beeper Collar that are designed to be worn on your existing remote training collar.
When using either of these beepers, you will need a counter weight if you do not use it with a remote collar. The counter-weight keeps the beeper on the back of your dog's neck so you can hear it better.
I generally use a combo collar (Garmin Upland 550), but I also really like one of the biggest beepers on the market (Scott 4 Mode Beeper Collar).
The good news is that while it looks like a bunch even my smallest dog (Jett, a 30-pound Brittany) can carry a Scott 4 mode beeper or a regular Scott ID collar.
How Many Dogs are You Running at the Same Time?
We normally run two or three dogs at the same time. I prefer to be able to tell which dog is which by the the different sounds of the beepers.
Most beepers have a choice between double and single beeps allowing you to tell the difference between dogs. Some beepers also have different tone selections. You can differentiate between dogs by using different sounds.
In some situations, I recommend using different brands of beepers on different dogs depending on their running style. Some beepers only have one sound or tone. This makes telling which dogs are which impossible.
I prefer to use a remote beeper on my close running dogs. This gives me the ability to shut their beepers off when I am trying to locate a bigger running dog or a lost dog.
Beeper Collars -- Rechargeable Collars versus Replaceable Batteries
I prefer replaceable batteries because of ease of use. Most beepers use a standard 9-volt battery and will last the entire season with moderate use.
Beeper Collars with Hawk Scream versus Standard Beeper Tones
Beeper Collars and the Ease of Changing Beeper Modes
Most folks do not think of this one, but I like to give it a little extra consideration. I seldom change modes, but if you hunt in different kinds of terrain you might want to switch from Run point to point only from time to time.
Some beepers can be changed with the push of a button. Some require you to open them with a screw driver and make the changes inside the unit. I am also a real big fan of the remote beepers that allow you to change modes from the transmitter. When I first saw this feature I didn't think it was a real big deal, but after using it in the field, I find I miss it on the products that do not offer it.
See the Dogtra 2500 T & B beeper collar.
The advantage of changing modes on the fly is that you can start off in Run-Point mode. If the cover opens up and you have an easy view of your dog, you can switch to point only mode and not have to listen to the beeper. This gives you the advantage also if you are trying to locate a missing dog or a big runner.
While you are looking for one dog the other dog may go on point. If you had to shut his beeper off to look for the other dog, you now have one lost and one lost on point.
Beeper Collars & Dog Tracking Collars
I run both beeper collars and tracking collars on my dogs at the same time. While this might seem like overdoing it, I really use the two products for different reasons. You can use a tracking collar that has a built in behavioral circut to keep up with a pointing dog and to tell you when he is on point. See dog tracking collars.
What if you want a beeper collar, remote trainer, and a bark collar?
While I do use this feature with my dogs, I find a beeper to be easier to keep track of the dog that is hunting within normal range. If one of my dogs gets out of hearing range, I can then use the tracking system to locate the dog and to see if she is on point.
I have used every beeper collar that we sell in the field at one time or another and I will be glad to help you in making the choice that will fit your needs. We will be glad to help you if you have any questions about the correct product for your specific needs. Give me a call or drop me an email.