This was written about GPS – Global Positioning System – hand held units in early 1997 – these units still do the same job, but they have come a long way since then.
I got an amazing toy for Christmas. It is a small device called a Global Positioning Satellite – GPS for short. My GPS is about the size of a TV remote control. It takes readings from satellites and tells you exactly where you are.
The GPS has a small screen where you can view different functions. You can record the location of different spots and the GPS will show you exactly how to get back to them. For example, you can mark a brush pile in the middle of a lake you don’t fish often. When you want to return, put in the name you gave it and the GPS will show you a direct line to it. It will tell you if you get off course. It will tell you how fast you are moving, how long before you get to it and other information.
If you mark a spot and then leave the GPS on as you go back to the dock or boat ramp, it will mark your exact course. You can then follow that track back, going around obstacles and avoiding problems. Most pro tournament fishermen have one mounted on their boat since they fish unfamiliar lakes often.
A GPS is also useful in the woods. You can mark a deer stand and the GPS will show you how to get back to it. If you have one, it is better than a compass, giving much more information.
New Year’s Day I was playing with my GPS while walking around the deer club. Maybe that is why I didn’t see any deer! I don’t think so since I only looked at it when stopped and after looking for deer. I had marked a deer stand and then walked out of the woods. I planned on following a small creek and then cutting across back to where I had parked.
As I walked down the creek, I saw the deer stand appear on the screen. Sure enough, I was within 50 feet of it. I thought I was at least 200 yards away. I did not realize the creek turned and came back to the stand. There were several other instances where the GPS made me realize what I thought I knew was not exactly right.
The GPS I got costs less than $200. It will record up to 250 different “waypoints,” or spots I mark on it. It is hard to believe what such an inexpensive device can do. Hooked to a depthfinder or computer, you can map your course or make your own maps. The GPS uses the same technology that guides missiles to their targets. Many airplanes have them so the pilots can find their way. They are amazing!