Sage Grouse and Garmin Pro 550 Plus Review

My favorite Son-in-law, Kyle, and I went to Wyoming to hunt Hungarian Partridge, Chukar Partridge and Sage Grouse. First, you should know that the birds in Wyoming are WAY down. Three and a half days of hunting, 20+ miles of hiking and plenty of road hunting and we saw zero Huns, zero Chukar and only a few Sage Grouse. We were checked by a Wyoming game officer and he confirmed that this is a pretty dismal year for bird hunting. Not quite what I expected given that all the great plains states are no longer in a drought but the game officer thinks that these things go in cycles. I hope he is right and we look forward to better hunting in the future. Despite these depressing statistics, we had a terrific hunt. Kyle is a new bird hunter – he has not yet enjoyed a game rich hunt and he was elated when we succeeded on sage grouse. It was time well spent and a great hunt in all the categories that matter!

There is nothing like a Modelo Especial after a 4 hour hike of futility!


On the hunt, we got to test out Tex’s new Garmin Pro 550 Plus Training and Tracking collar. It is call “training” because you can reach out and give ’em a little zap (from up to 2 miles out!) to remind ’em who their daddy is. It is called “tracking” because it has a global positioning system (GPS) strapped to your dog’s neck so you know where the puppy is. Now this is a VERY useful tool. Well worth the money. If you want to see all the features, go to Gun Dog Supply where they have a terrific video and info that will tell you all you ever wanted to know about this thing.  You should buy it from them; they are truly awesome. But here is why I think this is the best thing ever:

  • It has a tone button that Tex instantly thought was the whistle. No more incessantly blowing the damn whistle!! Tex hears it, but no one else can, and he immediately comes back to me. This is awesome!
  • You can see about where your dog is and if he is moving in or away. This keeps you from needlessly shocking his ass because now you can see that he hears you and is moving in! This is awesome!
  • The transceiver tells you only the information that you need. The direction and distance of your dog and if he is on point or taking a dump (stationary). Lots of folks like a map screen on more sophisticated devices to see where their dog is and maybe how to get to the nearest Starbucks. This seems like a distraction to me.  This simplicity is awesome!
  • It has lights that you can turn on or off like the lights on your car. This is kind of awesome, I guess.

If you hunt upland birds with a dog, you need one.

Tex modeling his new Garmin 550 Pro Plus!

Incredible, beautiful Wyoming.

A bit of dilapidated oil field services equipment.

Wyoming cow.

Big Country!

Tex cruising in a sea of sage.

This is known as mustard and ketchup lichen.

Our competition.

The business end.

Kyle scores on a grouse.

Sage Grouse Hen.

The wonderful Armas Garbi bird gun.

Thanks for visiting the Birdhunter!






Filed under Equipment, Wild Bird Hunts

10 responses to “Sage Grouse and Garmin Pro 550 Plus Review

  1. DeanMk1

    Another great post, Birdhunter!
    sorry you guys got skunked (well, Kyle didn’t!), but I agree with the game officer you talked to. I think the bird population goes up and down due to conditions. Some plants run in cycles (only bloom every few years, etc.) and that can have an effect on the bird population.
    This is especially true when hunting farmer fields.
    I think you reported a lower population in some posts you made last year, too.
    Hopefully next year will yield a larger population.
    Good luck in future hunts.

  2. smullenco

    That WY cow was clearly eyeing you….Bennnnnnnnn, Bennnnnnnnn, Bennnnnnnnn

    • Yes! And I have my eye on him! NY Strips! Rib-Eyes! Skirt Steak Tacos! Filet Mignon wrapped in bacon! Chicken Fried Steak! T-Bones! French Dip Sandwiches! Hamburgers! Hey Sean, lets meet for a beer and tacos.

  3. Keith Marcott

    I just completed the WY grouse slam and agree that all our bird numbers are down this year. Some of it, particularly for teh mountain grouse (ruffed and dusky) may be cyclic but according to the biologist I’ve spoken to, violent storms in June took a serious toll on the prairie birds. One biologist who studies sage grouse indicated that they estimate a loss of 50% of this years chicks in his region. I think we can extrapolate that to partridge, who share similar types of habitat in terms of vegetation here in WY.

  4. Travis Roberts

    Great post! That new collar is a god sent! Thanks again for sharing great photos and stories.

    • Thanks Travis! Yes, that collar is awesome. The other super cool thing that I have discovered for hunting this public land are onX maps. It is an incredible tool to understand if you are on public and private land and works wonderfully on the phone as well as the hand held GPS.

  5. Great review and photos. Thanks

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