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8 Great New E-Collars for 2015

8 Great New E-Collars for 2015

Like a meteorologist forecasting the weather, my German wirehaired pointer signaled an impending storm. We'd reached the end of a lengthy sliver of cattails, and Remy's fervent work ended abruptly in a statuesque point.

The grip on my shotgun tightened as I marched past Remy and into the reeds. A fat North Dakota rooster erupted in a thunder of wings.

Boom, boom€¦boom!

I cursed under my breath as the pheasant continued, unscathed. Lost in self-pity, I nearly failed to notice Remy in hot pursuit, or his dangerous trajectory. I hollered to stop, but the feathers, dancing feet from his face, were far too tantalizing. I snatched the transmitter dangling from my hip in a panic and hit the red button just as Remy reached the ditch. He skidded to a halt, while the pheasant flew across the road, narrowly missing the bumper of a speeding truck.

It was a close call, avoided thanks to one of the greatest breakthroughs in 50 years of dog handling equipment: the electronic remote training collar. From its humble beginnings the e-collar has made giant strides and completely transformed the way we train and handle our canine companions.

No longer mere novelties, e-collars are staples in the training arsenal of any serious hunting dog owner. The following products are examples of how purposeful design and the latest advancements in technology can help you and your dog in the field, at home, and everywhere in between.

Dogtra | EDGE RT

The Dogtra EDGE RT is like driving a trusty pickup truck: It has all the functionality serious trainers demand without needing a PhD to comprehend. One-handed transmitter operation means you can simultaneously keep a finger on the remote, a hand on a shotgun, and eyes on the dog. Eight levels of nick and constant stimulation, coupled with combination buttons, offer an array of pressure options, while the 1-mile range is adequate for even drag-racing English pointers. Transmitter and receiver are fully waterproof, can be expanded to three collars, and charge inside of two hours. Price: $350

DogWatch | BigLeash S-15 Remote Trainer

With 15 levels of electronic stimulation in both nick and continuous, as well as options for vibration and tone, the BigLeash S-15 Remote Trainer by DogWatch Training Products is the Swiss Army knife of e-collars. Thanks to the receiver's FireFly nightlight feature — four remote-activated LEDs that turn on with the push of a button — oh-dark-thirty no longer means quitting time for dog work. And especially handy if hunting in the thick stuff, exclusive In-Touch Two Way Communication displays signal strength on the transmitter's LCD screen to indicate if a dog is in range or getting too far ahead. Price: $230

D.T. Systems | R.A.P.T. 1400

It's hard to find good help these days; good thing the D.T. Systems R.A.P.T. 1400 shines when the only hands you can rely on are your own. With a functionally-designed remote that can be operated with just a thumb, D.T. has all but perfected the 'no-hands ' approach. I've done the training juggle before — a remote for the dog, another for launchers and a hand on a shotgun — with varied success. The R.A.P.T. 1400 frees hands for wrangling extras without sacrificing the handler-dog connection. The result is better organization for near instantaneous corrections. Bonus safety feature: The transmitter floats. Price: $220

Tri-Tronics | PRO 550

Take it from a guy who has watched two dogs completely blow out a field of pheasants: running a brace can be either a cluster, or choreographed. With 21 levels of momentary and continuous stimulation, and the ability to quickly switch between three dogs, the Tri-Tronics PRO 550 can get a pack of pointers in line faster than Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. Utilize tone and vibration features for added versatility, and operate the remote beacon light to spot your dog after sundown. After the hunt, a built-in BarkLimiter keeps the peace when squirrels invade Fido's home turf. Price: $400

Garmin | Alpha 100

Ever wonder how far or fast your dog travels during a hunt, or just where the heck it is after disappearing a bit too long on a retrieve? Worry no longer with the Garmin Alpha 100. Combined with the new TT15 collar, the Alpha 100 is an e-collar and GPS tracking system rolled into a convenient package. With a glove-friendly touchscreen display, it's easy to track and control up to 20 dogs (for you hound guys) as far as nine miles away. It's a versatile system that fits almost any sporting dog owner's needs, whether you're running a single retriever, a brace of spaniels, or an entire battalion of beagles. Price: $800

Lion Country Supply's | Bird Dog Trainer 800

Lion Country Supply's Bird Dog Trainer 800 is about compatibility. In and of itself, the remote trainer has all the bells and whistles you've come to expect from e-collars: multiple levels of stimulation, tone, a solid ½-mile range, and expandability. But where the Bird Dog Trainer breaks the mold is with the extras. Not only does the system let you command up to three dogs, but simultaneously pop quail, pigeons or pheasants from additional LCS Universal Bird Launchers, and even activate the LCS Remote Backing Dog. It's a bird dog system that totally streamlines the training process. Price: $200

SportDOG | SportHunter 1825

Whether building a decoy spread or configuring your SportDOG SportHunter 1825, customization is key. Have a soft setter that needs light pressure? Utilize vibration or momentary stimulation. Force-fetching a hard-headed Chessie? Work your way up the ladder of 16 levels of continuous stimulation until you get the desired response. Adding a coon dog — or five — to your kennel? Just purchase additional Add-A-Dog collars and sync them to your SD-1825 transmitter. It's expandable to a field-commanding six dogs. And because it's waterproof down to 25 feet, there's no worry about dropping it in the duck marsh — except getting it back, of course. Price: $295

Collar Clinic

Face it: Good e-collars aren't exactly cheap (heck, nothing about dog training is), so when a remote collar system goes on the blink, it can cost a pretty penny to replace. Before trashing the clunker, send it to Collar Clinic for repair. They've been in the business since 1988 and are well-equipped to fix practically any brand of remote trainer. Or, if in the market for an updated model, consider buying one of their reconditioned units; a bargain option for upgrading when brand new isn't in the budget. Prices: TBD

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