John's Journal... Entry 241, Day 1
SPACE-AGE GOBBLERS WITH DON TAYLOR
Editor's Note: Global Positioning Systems (GPS) is a system of satellites that circle the earth and give off signals. Each GPS satellite transmits its precise location (position and elevation) and the start time of the transmission. A GPS receiver acquires the signal and then measures the interval between transmission and receipt of the signal to determine the distance between the receiver and the satellite-a process called ranging. Once the receiver has computed range for at least three satellites, the receiver's location on the surface of the earth can be determined.
Each satellite transmits two types of data, almanac and ephemeris. Almanac data, general information on the location and health of each satellite on the constellation, can be collected from any satellite. A receiver with a current almanac in its memory knows where in the sky to look for satellites, given its last known position and the time of day. Ephemeris data is the precise satellite positioning information that is used for ranging. Each satellite transmits its own ephemeris data. Both almanac and ephemeris data are required for a GPS receiver to locate and acquire satellites quickly and compute your position. GPS produces accuracies of about 27 yards or better, bringing you within visual range of a destination or a target. Most GPS receivers allow you to log waypoints, either by number or name, which remain in its memory until you either delete it or change it. Regardless of your distance from a waypoint, the computer can calculate the direction you need to travel and the distance from it. This week, Don Taylor, a longtime turkey hunter from Alabama, shares the experiences he's had hunting with his GPS receiver.
As I sloshed through the inky black water of the swamp late in the afternoon, I laid an invisible trail marked only by satellites in outer space and my GPS hand-held receiver. I would follow that trail the next morning before daylight to reach my stand site to hunt Albert. Every morning this gobbler Albert pitched off the limb where he roosted over flooded timber and flew to a small island about 80 yards out in the water. I had no way to approach the island during daylight hours without the gobbler spotting me. I sometimes watched him strutting on the island that was too far away for me to shoot.
On this afternoon, I'd waded through the swamp in knee-deep water for 1/2-mile and picked a stand site where I could set up without spooking Albert. I used my hand-held GPS receiver to get a fix on my position. I hit the button to mark this location as a waypoint. Then I punched the 'Mark A Trail' button and pulled up the waypoint I had entered earlier where I'd left my vehicle. While I walked from the island through the water back to my vehicle, my GPS charted the course I took. When I arrived at my car, I pushed the 'Save Trail' button and stored my route in the memory of the receiver. The following morning with no moon to light my path, I set out with my GPS receiver to find my turkey-hunting blind through the dark water. Arriving at my destination in less than 45 minutes, I waited for the coming of daylight and Albert. He gobbled before first light. Because I knew this smart bird had whipped several other members of my hunting club, I didn't want to over-call. I cupped my hand and threw my call away from the island to some trees in the flooded timber and gave a soft tree call. Albert screamed back.
Next I gave a fly-down cackle and beat my pants leg with my gloved hand to sound like a turkey flying down and landing on the island. Albert double gobbled. After giving some soft clucks and yelps, I waited before scratching in the leaves to sound like a feeding hen. I didn't call any more. After 10 minutes of listening to Albert gobble with almost every breath, I heard the beating of wings. In less than three heartbeats, Albert landed about 20 yards from my stand. I released a load of No. 5s, collected my prize and reached in my pocket for my GPS receiver. This space-age device that had led me straight to the tom I'd hunted for two years now would direct me back to my vehicle. The GPS receiver solves many problems for the turkey hunter. You'll never be lost, and you can accurately navigate to and from any position in the woods during the day or night.
TOMORROW: BE LOST NO MORE