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Offbeat: Magellan eXplorist 350H GPS review

More than a couple people in my life, including TeamWON, can attest to the fact that I suffer from periodic memory problems. I spent a weekend with a few TeamWONners, not that long ago, that consisted of a series of absent-minded and forgetful incidents on my part. These incidents included missing 2 flights, locking keys in the rental car and forgetting my holster and rig in my hotel room, on a day when we were going to the range. It quickly became a joke among us, but the truth is that we all have times when we are “off.”

 

OffBeat is proudly sponsored by Armed in Stilettos

OffBeat is proudly sponsored by Armed in Stilettos

 

Those who experience periodic short-term memory issues should be concerned with the possibility of getting lost, since it is believed that the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for short-term memory, also is where our cognitive map (our spatial representation of the physical world) is stored. Thanks to military and law enforcement training, my sense of direction is better than it used to be. But, taken out of my element, I, too, get lost. Navigational devices are tools that can help those wanderers with flawed hippocampi. Since technology can fail, these devices are not  “cure alls,” but can provide needed guidance.

 

Loss prevention and more

As a hunter, my excursions are usually limited to areas on my own land. I’ve been lost twice, ending up on someone else’s land. This is scary, especially considering that the surrounding area is hunting land, too. When Magellan offered to send me the eXplorist 350H GPS ($249.99,) I hoped it would prevent me from getting lost. The truth is, it did far more than just that.

The GPS unit allows me to program in the boundaries of my hunting land, and also allows me to drop virtual breadcrumbs while exploring. It keeps track of my route, so if I get disoriented or lost, I can backtrack to familiar territory. Using the “Track Me” function helped me discover things about my land I had not known previously.

 

The Magellan eXplorist 350H GPS.

The Magellan eXplorist 350H GPS. Photo courtesy of Magellan

 

Always be ready!

A GPS unit will not do any good if you don’t bring it into the field, or if it has dead batteries! So, I have a specific backpack that I use for hunting. I always pack this backpack with my binoculars, hand warmers, hunting licenses, field spray, bug spray, a flashlight, calls and other basic hunting gear. I’ve added the Magellan eXplorist to this pack, along with 2 spare AA batteries. Since the eXplorist has a handle on the bottom, I looped a lanyard through it and connected it directly to my pack. I store the unit inside and remove it when needed (decreasing my likelihood of losing it). This unit is small, lightweight and compact. I would liken its size to that of my old Nextel flip phone that is designed for construction workers. The unit measures a mere 2.2 inches wide, 4.4 inches long and 1.4 inches thick. It is a hearty unit, and even though I have yet to drop it, I’m confident that it will take some real effort to damage this GPS.

 

Magellan eXplorist 350H GPS

Photo courtesy of Michael Ahrens

 

Waypoint wonders

While exploring my land, I discovered that my father-in-law (the previous owner) had erected dozens of tree stands. There is no way I can recall the location of these tree stands, let alone navigate to them. If I found a tree stand while exploring, I would select “Mark this Spot,” I could then select 1 of more than 30 waypoints, to mark the tree stand. In addition to marking tree stands, I could mark game trails, water sources, scat, scrapes or my placement of game cameras. There is 1 waypoint marker that is my favorite — the blood trail waypoint.

Even though I have yet to use the waypoint for marking blood trails, I can see the potential value in that function. Blood trails disappear in adverse weather conditions and preserving them is important. Electronically marking a blood trail provides far more valuable information, than physically marking them. As a police officer, when I investigate a shooting, I have to locate spent casings. I’ve found that the best way to find casings is to look for a pattern. Usually, I will find several spent casings in one area. This is similar to finding the start of a blood trail. I look for more casings, but sometimes they seem to just stop (even though the number of casings found doesn’t match the amount of shots fired reported). When this happens, I step back and look for a pattern to emerge. I do this by analyzing the evidence markers and hypothesizing the direction of travel that the shooter chose. This usually leads to success. By electronically mapping a blood trail, a pattern of movement will become evident. Determining the location of my harvest will be assisted by the GPS because landmarkers  — like water sources — will be visible. I may not know there’s water nearby until I check my unit.

 

Sara and her son Mikey explore their property. Photo courtesy of Michael Ahrens

Sara and her son Mikey explore their property. Photo courtesy of Michael Ahrens

 

Hunters can benefit from Magellan’s eXplorist 350H GPS unit by utilizing the various functions on this unit. Hunters can mark any waypoint worthy of recollection. Analyzing the stored waypoints can provide hunters with valuable information to improve the chances of harvesting game, while simultaneously keeping hunters safe. This unit will not only prevent me from getting lost and inadvertently trespassing on someone else’s property, but it also will improve overall hunting experience. I look forward to reporting back on my success in the near future.