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GPS Rec for Hunting land - mapping trails and measuring area of food plots

I am very new to GPS use. My main needs out of a unit are as follows:
- Calculating the acreage in a food plot so I can apply the right amount of lime, fertilizer, etc
- Marking food plots on the larger map that I can eventually have printed (like from a MyTopo type service)
- Marking trails, roads, deer stands, property lines and other things that will print out on the satellite aerial image that I print or that I can have on a PDF copy of the map to distribute to the hunters and hikers of the property.

I need to be able to mark these things from the field. I realize some of this could be accomplished from an app that marks up a satellite image, but satellite images are not always as fresh as the changes we have made to the property - especially as it relates to clearing fields.

Any advice on what sort of unit to buy would certainly be appreciated. Trying to keep the price under a $1000 if I can.

Comments

  • privet01 221 Points
    edited July 2014
    1000 dollars is pretty generous if you are only looking for a recreational GPS. I don't use handhelds regularly anymore. In fact my only handheld is an old gpsMap76csx, Circa 2006, that stays in my seabag as a backup to the marine gps's when sailing.

    I'm not sure you'll find a recreational GPS that does the area calculations, but I may quite be wrong on that. For certain you can do that easily with mapping programs you will be using too or online tools you upload your tracks to.

    The accuracy of $1000 and cheaper gps's is not what TV and salesman lead us to believe, but for what you want, they should be accurate enough as long as you and users of your information know that it's not accurate enough to dispute boundaries with neighboring property owners.

    I myself have been toying for quite a while getting a new handheld, and for me I've been watching the Garmin Montana's. Mainly due to their features that lean toward boating.

    However from what I've read from others, an inexpensive garmin etrex 20 or 30 might be all you or I need.

    I'd be interested to see others views though, particularly on the Montana 600
  • Tim 1480 Points
    privet01 said:

    I'm not sure you'll find a recreational GPS that does the area calculations, but I may quite be wrong on that.

    Actually, quite a few will. The DeLorme models will as will many Garmin models:
    How do I locate and perform an area calculation on my GPS?
  • privet01 221 Points
    Well that's interesting, even my old gpsMap76csx does that. I never knew!

    But lets hear the opinions on product suggestions.............................
  • Boyd 1985 Points
    $1000 is sort of "neither here nor there". It's too much for a consumer device and not enough for a survey grade unit. All modern consumer grade units will have similar accuracy (+/- 5 meters), paying more money won't help - a $150 etrex is going to be the same as an $800 Monterra. The extra money buys additional features (compass, altimeter), bigger/better screens, pre-loaded topo maps (which are pretty low quality) or a full Android device like the Monterra.

    The survey grade units are not user-friendly and require additional software, you will be into several thousand for these. But they can give you accuracy to 1 meter or less.

    I think the Garmin Montana 600 would be a reasonable fit for you use, if you are comfortable with +/- 5 meter accuracy. Beautiful, bright 4" screen, lots of options to customize it the way you like. Cost is around $450. You can put satellite imagery on it to help orient yourself in the field with a $30 Birdseye subscription that allows unlimited downloads. You can also make your own maps from anything that you can scan - see this: http://www.garmin.com/us/products/onthetrail/custommaps

    You will also need software to create the maps that you want to distribute. Garmin's free Basecamp program might be good enough for that, you would have to play around and see what you think. Personally, I use powerful GIS software called GlobalMapper. But that requires a relatively steep learning curve, and it isn't cheap.
  • RTR 0 Points
    Thanks for the comments guys - the link the the Garmin area calculation did not work for some reason, but I will research the Garmin site on the area calc.
    Boyd said:

    You can put satellite imagery on it to help orient yourself in the field with a $30 Birdseye subscription that allows unlimited downloads. You can also make your own maps from anything that you can scan - see this: http://www.garmin.com/us/products/onthetrail/custommaps

    You will also need software to create the maps that you want to distribute. Garmin's free Basecamp program might be good enough for that, you would have to play around and see what you think. Personally, I use powerful GIS software called GlobalMapper. But that requires a relatively steep learning curve, and it isn't cheap.

    So I can send these maps off to a printer with all of my embellishments, once if have the map converted into the right kind of file?
  • RTR 0 Points
    A question about accuracy. I am not marking property lines here, but was under the impression that there are some differences between recreational units. Those that have WAAS supposedly get you down to a 3 meter accuracy - plenty for me vs 10 meter, which is quite a difference if I am measuring a small food plot for fertilizer or seed inputs.
  • Boyd 1985 Points
    I think you are looking at some rather old articles. All of the handheld units have WAAS now. The newer feature which *might* improve accuracy is GLONASS - additional satellites. My own experience is that it probably has little effect on accuracy but may help the device get a fix quickly and hold it under difficult conditions (heavy tree cover, etc).

    Garmin's Basecamp program can use the same maps and satellite imagery that you install on the computer. It can also import your track (a line that shows where you've been) and waypoints (places that you mark) from the GPS. This can be saved to a file and printed. However printing is limited to what you see on the computer screen. So, for example, if your computer monitor has 1920x1080 pixels, that is what you can print.
  • privet01 221 Points
    All my GPS's have had waas, and although it improves the accuracy, the 3 meter thing is a best case, that you can't depend on.

    But as I think you intend to use your device, if you load the track up to a mapping program or google earth or a website, you'll be able to judge if your track matches where it should be on the map or image. Adjustments can be made.

    But be aware, some things like Google earth will plot your track in 3D, and your track may well lie above or below the map surface. I those cases, the tracks location on the map depends on the 'viewing' angle the software calculates for the projection.
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