A short intro to Andy's post is in order. Andy's love for detailed records of his tracks is well documented on this blog. And it is very impressive. However, very few handlers are interested in maintaining this kind of data. For what Andy does, a touch screen GPS is not an option and he explains why. For many other trackers, it might be a good, inexpensive alternative.
by Andy Bensing
On another forum we were discussing using smart phones as a gps while blood tracking and the availability of gloves that will work with a smart phone screen. The main problem with touch screen gps when tracking is the inability to very quickly and easily use the screen while tracking in the field. If you just want to record your path, mark the infrequent waypoint along the way and look at it on the map as you track along, no problem with a touch screen, but if you want to mark a lot of waypoints for various reasons along the way and if you want to individually record each restart you do if you have to pick your dog up and restart, then a touch screen is very cumbersome, nearly useless in my opinion. At least for me and I have tried it.
I have a perfect example of a track I did last night in the rain in rough terrain with steep hills, nasty briars and a deep stream. Here are the maps that show how much I marked and all the different restarts. It would have been impossible to mark all that easily with a touch screen. We got to a deep stream crossing and while making sure it was correct, I believe Eibe got on a second wounded deer and found blood and a piece of an arrow and it lead to a second place she wanted to cross. We had to drive around to the other side and sort it out over there with several restarts as well on that side. I mark each restart with a different color track and the dark blue is always where we were walking not tracking to make the restarts. All that being said, when we realized we could not cross the deep stream, I whipped out my smart phone, brought up Google earth, and figured out the best way to get around to the other side.
Incidentally, we did not get this deer. He was very lightly opened up across the belly (the hunter watched him for 15 minutes with binoculars with intestines hanging but very little blood coming out even where he initially stood 100 yards from the shot). After almost 4 hours of tracking in the rain and wind and rough terrain and working 2 different blood lines and taking both slightly over 1 mile from the hit site we decided to give up. This deer will surely die and may have been already dead (we were tracking 24 hours after the shot) but the hunter and I had had enough. My dog Eibe on the other hand still was raring to go.