Friday, March 26, 2010

The Wonders of GPS Technology

Ever since I started running Gil in the open field I've been using the Garmin Astro dog tracking system to keep track of his whereabouts should he ever become lost, disoriented or injured while on hunt. The Astro is probably one of the best, if not the best, investment I ever made. They're not cheap but it sure does give me lots of peace of mind, plus I get all the cool features that come with it, like being able to review Gil's courses.

Below is an illustrated view of the last course Gil ran at this year's NOFCA Grand Course.

The image was created from information gathered from the collar and then superimposed onto Google Earth. The collar tracks all kinds of information including average speed, distance and location of the dog at any given point in time. I have highlighted the leg of the course where Gil was recorded to have reached his highest speed of 52 mph. In all honesty I doubt the accuracy of the collar but it does give you some idea of how fast these dogs can travel. The point at the far left is where I believe he lost the rabbit since the speeds from that point on become much slower and steadier. The whole course was about 2 miles, but if my guess is correct he only ran the rabbit for about half that distance. Nevertheless a mile long run at full speed is quite a feat.

The most important point to be taken from this is that it gives one a realistic view at how real rabbits run in their natural habitat. Lure coursing is held by many to be an adequate or even exemplary simulation of hare coursing when, in truth, most lure coursing plans do not even come close to simulating the natural course a hare would take while being pursued by a predator (be it dog, coyote or falcon). As a result, lure coursing can only give us a limited indication as to how well our dogs are fulfilling their original function. My hope is that we can start to use technology like this to create better lure coursing plans so that we may improve the ability of those who do not have access to open field coursing to test their hounds' skills in the field.


  1. this gps collar is a great thing!
    i hope you will show us more of these courses. it is is really interesting.

  2. thats great, Audrey, could really be useful for coursing plans!