Like a mini-computer, the GPS unit
will have a menu selection. Reading the book, or purchasing and viewing the video most
companies offer, before turning the GPS unit on is highly recommended. Once the basic
knowledge has been attained, its just a matter of scrolling to the right menu for
the information desired.
Now go outside and power up the unit
so it can get a fix on its/your position. Pick an area devoid of trees and
allow it to acquire the location relative to the satellites above. This will
take only a few seconds, and when thats done, a position message will
When the unit is new or when you
change batteries, you have to calibrate the compass, which on most units is nothing more
than pressing a button on the menu section. Additionally, there will be what some call
pages that store such data as current longitude and latitude, current bearing
and speed over ground. It will also show course, distance traveled and distance to
You can enter in the current date
and time, and there is a barometer with the current pressure and if its rising,
falling or steady. Altimeter readings within 3 feet are available, as are weather
forecasts to keep track on your trip and even the time of the next sunset and sunrise. You
simply cant ask for a better friend on the trail.
While all the details on navigation
are too numerous to mention, I can tell you there are a few ways to use the GPS unit. The
basic way is what some call a straight or back-home system. The more advanced method is to
use topographic maps and plug in the coordinates before you get to your destination. Id
recommend the first one to start, especially in your local area, to build confidence in
using the unit.
Later you can drive a local area,
planning the trip via a map, before you head out to a remote area. This is referred to as
the Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) system that divides the Earth into 6-degree zones.
More for the advanced hunter or hiker, this method takes planning, setting up your trip
and good navigational skills.
To help get around, GPS receivers
let you save positions or waypoints in memory like electronic markers to get
you back to your campsite, pickup truck or the main road. Once a position is stored in
memory, it can be referred to as a destination or return-to-point
at any time.
The first thing you want to do when
you are about to leave the vehicle is set the home (or waypoint) position,
making it the straight-home setting. Walking down the trail, the GPS will keep track of
the starting point, so in case of bad weather or your getting lost, you will know exactly
how far you need to go to return home - sort of a counter in reverse. Once
reaching the final destination, you may want to save this favorite hunting or fishing spot
as a waypoint for future reference. Most new units will store up to 1,000 of these
waypoints, so go ahead and record this location; you can always delete it later.
To return to the vehicle, just turn the GPS
unit on, hit the compass button, and the unit will show you the way back. Some units even
have side arrows to help you keep a true setting. When there is no arrow, you are heading
in a correct setting; a right arrow means turn to the right, same with the left. Aligning
yourself with the arrow will not only show you the direction to travel, but as mentioned
will also show you the distance to go before reaching your starting point. Once there,
delete this waypoint so you dont use it by mistake the next time around.