Handheld radios for hunting/mountain use

sam4886

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I know there are some guys on here that are pretty versed in radio use and models.

I'm looking for a couple handhelds that my dad and I can use while hunting/running around in the woods. We're never more than a couple miles apart, but the timber is pretty thick in places and line of sight is hardly ever going to happen. Even if there were no trees, the terrain is fairly steep with lots of ridges, bowels, etc.

My limited research leads me to the 5+ watt stuff, so GMRS and a licence required.

Does anyone have a suggestion on something that would work? The smaller, lighter, and less complicated the better. My only requirement is that I can use an ear piece.
 

Alpine 338

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Motorola T800 Talkabout Two Way Radio
Motorola 1518 Surveillance Style Earpiece

You can find them here for $99 a two-pack, not sure what the earpiece go for?

 

sam4886

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I had seen those. All the extra phone connection stuff seems cool, but they're only 2 watt. Won't that limit the ability to pound the signal through trees and stuff?

Or maybe 2 watts is all I need? I really don't know. Does a higher watt radio give me better ability to send a signal over a ridge and through the trees?
 

Alpine 338

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Yes, more power does help with varying terrain with UHF frequencies (FRS and GMRS). However, UHF does well cutting through brush, trees, building etc. 2-Watts should do well within 2-miles, but if you plan on going outside that distance, then go with 5-Watts.
 

Alpine 338

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I don’t own any Baofeng radios, but my friends that do complain that they splatter (cause interference). Motorola is a trusted name. I have the older 1-Watt BCA BC-radio that I like, and also have an older Garmin Rhino (which has more freq coverage than the new models).


 

Missalot

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Spend an evening studying the actual question pool (from the test you will take for free on the internet), go to your local ham radio club, pass the multiple question test, and get your license about a week later. You can then buy either a 2m or 6m (VHF) handheld radio up to 7 watts. With an enhanced rubber ducky antenna, you will likely get the range you need but it won't be in a tiny package the size of your phone. VHF is a line of sight communication mode, but radio waves bounce off a lot of stuff and will give you some over the hill range. The antenna is paramount. If you have a license, you can use any antenna. With FRS and GMRS, you are very limited to external antennas. Antennas are everything and power is secondary. Guys use 5 watts on high frequency to talk hundreds of miles but they don't do that with a shorty 6" antenna. Antennas that come with most handie talkies actually transmit substantially less power than what the radio produces. So your 5 watt handheld may only be sending 1 watt from the antenna. Kenwood, Yaesu, and Icom are the gold standards for handie talkies. There are others and some are quite good and some like the brand mentioned are extremely cheap for what you get.
 
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sam4886

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I've been spending most of the night googling. It sounds like a MURS radio might be better for my situation. They're a little better at bending around hills? The building penetration ability of GMRS is pretty useless for me.

What about a handheld CB? Are there reasonably sized units? Apparently CB is better than MURS at bending around hills.

Like I said, I'm still researching. My primary needs are bending over/around hills and powering through trees/brush. Something that can do that for 1-2 miles is plenty.
 

Alpine 338

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MURS is a good option, but there are less radios to choose from. Remember, with MURS you're limited to 2-Watts also.

CB is not a good choice, as it is very dependent on propagation, and right now with the Sunspot cycle, all you get is static. Stay with FM, as it will be less irritating than CB (AM).
 

sam4886

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A couple more questions.

What about ham? I wouldn't mind having something that would serve as a good backup communication tool for when China invades or whatever. It is probably overkill for shorter range hunting stuff though, right? The hand held units seem bigger and heavier though.

If you had to choose between gmrs and murs for hunting timbered canyons, what would you take? We'll be in the same canyon, but not necessarily the same draw.
 

Alpine 338

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You can get 5-Watt HAM HT that are just as small as the FRS/GMRS radios. More antenna options also. Just realize, both you and your Dad will have to be licensed to use them.
 

sam4886

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Sean posted while I was typing.

Licensing isn't an issue. Just add another card to the wallet....

I'll poke around and check out some basic ham handhelds. Do you guys have any experience with something that would work well for me? The baofengs are tempting just because of the price. If they're halfway decent entry units, I'll probably go that way.

I've been trolling buytwowayradios and they've been helpful from what I've read, but they're ham suggestions are pretty spendy. Not looking to drop $500 on a couple radios when I don't really know what I want yet.
 

W54/XM-388

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If your Ham radio handheld is one of the higher end ones, it may have a GPS and you can set it up to send your location to others in your party (as well as anyone else in range to listen). Not something you want to do if you are worried about "the man" or "SHTF" but if you were going to be carrying your cell phone around anyways and didn't really care if anyone knew your location or not, then it's a nice option & a great emergency feature as well.
 

sam4886

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What do you think about these things? Amazon is full of 2 models with different names it looks like.

Pofung UV-82 VHF UHF FM Transceiver Dual Band Two Way Radio https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E4KLY34/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_lac1DbTRV4DVP

BaoFeng Radio BaoFeng UV-82 8W High Power Ham Radio Dual Band Amateur Walkie Talkies Portable 2 Way Radio 2Pack https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07TSBDLQ6/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_Sbc1Db1QZ1TA6

Ham Radio Walkie Talkie (UV-5R 8-Watt) UHF VHF Dual Band 2-Way Radio with 2 Rechargeable 2100mAh Battery Handheld Walkie Talkies Complete Set with Earpiece and Programming Cable https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07TX9FYKJ/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_icc1DbJX5CNJP
 

Alpine 338

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Go with the UV-5R. Yuesu is a tried and true product. You originally said you wanted something easy to use, and the Baofeng are complicated.
 

sam4886

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That was my concern. Plenty of lights, buttons, and crap to screw up my old man on those beaofengs.

Great info guys. Thanks for the help.
 
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AIAW

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Keep in mind that if you don’t mind the extra expense and small complexity, and depending on terrain (specifically vehicle location in proximity to both of you) you could run a mobile vehicle-repeater setup. Only so much Tx power you can get out of a HT of course. May or may not be beneficial, just throwing that out there. Of course, licensing required for this also.
 
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sam4886

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A repeater has crossed my mind. The truck is generally parked down in the canyon floor, more or less centered, so it would work great, but I'm not sure I want to get that complicated at the beginning.

Along those lines, I'm still trying to avoid all the extra complications the baofengs seem to have. I'm also trying to stay fairly cheap before I go balls out on this stuff. Is there a happy medium between the cheap/complicated baofengs and $130 yuesu? Or should I just pick one and quit bitchin?
 

Missalot

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Using a cross band repeat radio is an interesting scenario. Basically you have a 50w 2m radio/35w 440m dualband radio on a vehicle with an unlimited antenna. If the vehicle is parked on a ridge and the users are down in different valleys, you would have excellent communications. However, it is a bit more complicated and now you need dualband handhelds and a 3rd dualband radio for the truck that is capable of cross band repeat ($$). If you are close to a 2m repeater where you hunt, that would solve your issue too.

Honestly, your best bet is a 5w 2m ham radio with a second detachable high gain antenna (probably about 18" long would work-they vary in length to about 60") in the event the stock antenna didn't work. This will require a ham radio license. They aren't hard to get. My wife's understanding of electronics was the + side of the battery matches the + side in the battery compartment on the tv remote. She studied the question pool on the internet one evening before the test and she missed one question on the test. I mean, they give you the questions they will use along with the answers. What could be easier?
 

AIAW

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Gunfighter14e2 is involved with a lot of RF/HAM too. He might have a cheaper scenario outside of simple HT to HT comms. I know cross-band mobile radios can be had for around $400 or so, so not a terrible expense in the grand scheme of things (if feasible).
 

Alpine 338

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Just an FYI, some of the Garmin Rhino's can be set up as repeaters, and do split frequencies. I think Midland makes a vehicle mount FRS/GMRS that can also act as a repeater?
 

Gunfighter14e2

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I know there are some guys on here that are pretty versed in radio use and models.

I'm looking for a couple handhelds that my dad and I can use while hunting/running around in the woods. We're never more than a couple miles apart, but the timber is pretty thick in places and line of sight is hardly ever going to happen. Even if there were no trees, the terrain is fairly steep with lots of ridges, bowels, etc.

My limited research leads me to the 5+ watt stuff, so GMRS and a licence required.

Does anyone have a suggestion on something that would work? The smaller, lighter, and less complicated the better. My only requirement is that I can use an ear piece.
It's not just LOS it's LOS +/- up to 10-15% depending.
Your best bet is a Ham radio, the GMRS an Marine channel stuff (on land) is nothing but wishful thinking for what your after. PTT an ear wigs are offered for most all radios these days. My go to (as well as others in our group) is a Yeasu VX6R with adders, the cheap Baofengs be they 5 or 8 watt units will probably cover your needs. I would suggest finding the local Ham club an ask them what they are using in the A/O your looking at.
If getting a License is holding you, up the entry level is easy to pass an the cost is almost nothing. If 10 year old kids an I can pass it anyone can if they try.
One word of caution, most of the time it's not about Transmit power, it's more about the fed line an antenna that rule the day. So that said if your going to work 2 meter only get the best 2 meter antenna for that radio you can get, if 1.25 or 440 is going to be your thing same applies. A antenna that covers more than one band will work but a good antenna for the band your working, will trump them very quickly.
 
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mzvarner

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The one thing I have not seen mentioned yet is the legality of using radios during hunting season. In Washington its actually illegal to use radios between hunting partners on the same premise of why you cannot hunt after flying that day. Just a heads up.

I have my license and use the Baofeng UV5R and I have the mobile version in my truck. They are a huge pain in the ass to program in the field. Using CHIRP software makes it easier because you can just make a profile of local repeaters from Repeater book including weather stations, GMRS, MURS, etc..

If you do any digging you will run into a technology called APRS which sounds intriguing because it fixes a GPS signal to your radio transmission. However it quickly died because GPS proved way more useful and has left APRS with a single frequency for tx/rx. I had a very nice HT that I used to satelite comms (listening only, not nearly enough power to transmit and overpower everyone else). That unit was pretty amazing because i could dial a known frequency for a repeater and it inherently knew it was a repeater and automatically set up the offsets and PL tones.
 

Alpine 338

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Yeah, hunting with radios veries State by State. A couple years ago, I was using my Garmin Rhino (only GPS I own) to record coordinate data for my property lines. And suddenly I started getting some radio traffic from some hunters on a FRS/GMRS frequency we use for snowmobiling. I did a location on them (Garmin Rhino feature), and they were about 30-miles away up in Wyoming.
I always thought, you could have someone set up on a tall peak with spotting scope and radio, and you could tell your hunting buddies where the game is.
 

Gunfighter14e2

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Using any radio that tattles your position is bad news. Those of you that have HT's need to be careful an note wither you want that turned on or not. We removed/electrically blocked all of ours for good reasons. APRS an the like is .govs wet dream in spades. End though with the latest an greatest they can find you w/o it, in right at 30 seconds. Brave new world but there are counters,...
 

sam4886

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Ended up going with this deal from amazon. Figured between the $40 price and Amazon's returns I couldn't go wrong.

Picked this one because of the battery and advertised 8w output. I guess we'll see how it does. If it works out I'll probably upgrade to something more reliable/expensive.
 
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mzvarner

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It is definitely not illegal to use radios while hunting in Washington.
You can carry radios sure, but I do not believe you can Use guidance via radios to track and harvest.

Page 93 of this years regs:

Radio-telemetry equipment (WAC 220-414-010): It is illegal to use radio-telemetry equipment to locate and hunt wildlife with transmitters attached to them

I Would not be surprised if a warden was able to cite this and spin it to his favor if you were caught giving your buddy directions to shoot a non collard animal. Again, same concept as flying to find them. The ethics of that scenario alone? Given the increasingly liberal views in this state, I wouldn't test it.

Any ways, sorry to derail, back on track.
 

ColdSteel260

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You can carry radios sure, but I do not believe you can Use guidance via radios to track and harvest.

Page 93 of this years regs:

Radio-telemetry equipment (WAC 220-414-010): It is illegal to use radio-telemetry equipment to locate and hunt wildlife with transmitters attached to them

I Would not be surprised if a warden was able to cite this and spin it to his favor if you were caught giving your buddy directions to shoot a non collard animal. Again, same concept as flying to find them. The ethics of that scenario alone? Given the increasingly liberal views in this state, I wouldn't test it.

Any ways, sorry to derail, back on track.
Doesn't quite sound like telemetry to me.
 

W54/XM-388

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What those regulations are prohibiting is you using radio receiving equipment to track down any animals with radio tags on them.
 

sam4886

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Yeah, those are two different things.

In fact, it is legal to have your buddy flying a drone or plane and guide you in wherever you need to go via radio. As long as you're not flying the drone or werent up in the plane yourself, it is legal. Unethical, shitty, and lame, but legal.

Every warden I've ever interacted with, my dad was one for 25 years, leaned heavily towards common sense. As long as you don't get shitty with them or purposely break laws, they usually don't get shitty with you.
 

hankpac

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If you want to stay on GMRS/FRS, look at an older model Garmin that combines, both GPS and Radio. I have an older set up, that uses a full 5 watts instead of two, and when keyed, it puts a marker on the other GPS screen, of my location. Tht way even if the two of us cannot hear each other, at least the marker is placed. Sent two or three times can mean "I've got one down". Also has messaging which send a burst mode text to the other radio, and marks on the GPS map screen. There are 5 of us hunting about 3-5 miles apart in heavy forest, and at least two of us can communicate, or relay for the others, and base camp. Really cuts down on the time to gather everybody to help haul out a big one.
 

Mortalpawn

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I have a Ham Extra license. Your unlicensed options are FRS/GMRS and MURS. FRS/GMRS operate in the 462-467 MHz range while MURS is in the 151-154 MHz range. Both are VHF/UHF which means they are line-of-sight signals, and limited to a max of 2 watts of power though most operate closer to 0.5 watts output power, and must have a fixed antenna. This does severely limit range in field conditions.

Ham radio, which require at least a Technician license for both users, operates in similar frequency regions for handhelds (typically 2m, 440 Mhz and occasionally 220 MHz), but you have a much broader range of potential channels and also higher power. An average ham handheld puts out 5 watts, and 8 watt units are available. You also have better antenna options which can increase your range. There are also many thousands of repeaters available across the US which can extend your range to 60 miles or more and many of these are located on mountain peaks even in relatively remote areas.

So ham units do have significant advantages, but you would need to all pass a technican license test to use the radios legally, and there is obviously a learning curve to pass the test and expense of buying the radios, programming and operating them. The Beofengs are the cheapest ham-capable handhelds and the F8-HP is capable of 8 watts and has good reach with a proper antenna.

Having a higher level (beyond technician, there is a "General" and "Extra" class license) can also let you access the HF bands which can give you worldwide emergency communications, though the HF antennas are not really portable enough for hunting.
 

alpine44

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Entry level ham with technician license on the 2m and 0.7m/440MHz bands is extremely useful and enjoyable. Due to the large number of repeaters, the coverage is amazing even in remote areas. For some wilderness areas in Montana I also got the frequencies for the Forest Service repeaters just by nicely asking and promising to use those only in a serious emergency or when spotting a fire.

Nobody stops you from listening and you can quickly pick up if nasty weather is heading your way when you are out for weeks. Some of the public repeaters are also interconnected in strings, which allows you to reach people hundreds of miles away, sometimes even in other states. Some repeaters can patch you into the phone system. Need to tell your wife that you will return from the woods a day or two late but are out of cell coverage? Hit a suitable repeater, dial a code and her number via (DTMF) keypad on your handheld and bingo. Just keep the lack of privacy in mind ;-)

When travelling long distances in a car, I typically hit some VHF/UHF repeaters on the way and chat with the locals. Makes time go by faster and it's nice to connect with folks from other walks of life. You may not hear any traffic on a repeater but there are always dozens of people listening and someone will usually reply when you announce yourself on the frequency.

I also a big fan of local nets where several ham operators meet on a certain repeater frequency at a certain day/time. After moving from MT to NC we got a lot of useful info and recommendations for contractors, etc. from the local net.

All of this is on top of the ability to talk directly from station to station with more range than the licence free options.
 
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UpSideDown

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Radios for hunting do not need to be anything special. Radios are limited to essentially line of sight use, and in a hunting environment you're generally either close enough to be line of sight, or you're out of line of sight. The most important thing with radios is antenna quality on both radios, but in this environemnt I wouldn't fuss over it at all.

For hunting, get a FRS (Family Radio Service) radio. Every radio shares the same channels regardless of brand, they're cheap, simple batteries, no license required. I use GMRS and HAM in the truck for events but I wouldn't suggest someone get one for hunting.

Unless you are a complete radio geek, you aren't going to use repeaters. And you're very hopeful you can even talk to one because of the line of sight restriction. FRS requires you to turn to the right channel, and talk. 2m or 70cm as noted above requires your group to pick the specific radio frequencies of the repeaters you want to talk to, pick the frequency offsets of those repeaters and program your radio to use different transmit/receive frequencies to use the repeater, make sure your group is always switching to the new repeater you're approaching. All on top of everyone getting licensing and a more expensive radio, simply so you can use those radios. Then if you travel somewhere new, or hunt with someone that doesn't have all this down, this all this goes out the window. Even if you hunt your normal spot, you can't test to see if everything is really working, and you can't talk to each other to tell each other you can't talk to each other.... Go FRS, enjoy all the beautiful simplicity of it, and suffer as little as possible when radios don't work, because they're radios and not sat phones.
 

acudaowner

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1583217249455.png with duct taped (mlock mod attachment) walkie talkie to the side or flip phone on one shoulder and the rifle on the other .
 
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