Best Two Way for hunting

My husband is going hunting with some buddies this year. They want to get two way radios that will will a good distance (over 5 miles through trees). Which two ways would be the best for this?

Thanks for your suggestions.

i would buy the midland GXT900 radios. actually, you can get the gxt950 which is the camo version. these radios seem to have the best quality and range of all consumer grades out on the market up until this point. check them out. they were released to the market recently

Truthfully, no radios can go 5 miles through trees. Foliage is the biggest deterrent to two way radio signals. When you look for radios, I would consider the wattage.

Motorola just released the Motorola CP110. It is a two watt radio, which is much more powerful than the toy radios that you’ll find. It is also water resistant, which should help with the wet conditions of the wilderness.

If you want to spend a lot more $600+ per unit, then the Motorola MOTOTRBO is a good choice. It has text messaging capabilities, which won’t scare off the deer!

I use GXT750s for hunting, along with other things. You’ll be pushing it for range, but hills seem to make more difference than how thick any trees are. If there aren’t hills between radios, any Midland radios that say 5 watts should work well. Anything Midland thats a model 700 or higher should be powerful enough.

Definitely get Midland for a brand, they have the best range, and seem more durable than Motorolas.

A pair of low band vhf 29-50mhz might be an option. I know Industry Canada would love to licence people on this band as it is very under utilized.

I would buy Abell A-82 when I go out for hunting. This is a tough and loud voice radio with 5w power.

I have some midlands and 5 miles seems questionable. I haven’t personally hunted with them though. I ski with them and some of the Motorolas kick their butt. People next to me hear stuff I can’t hear. I bought some ICOM’s and programmed them. Now I am happy.

I agree that the mountains/hills are worse than trees.

The Midland GXT1000 is the best two way radio by far. This is my second set of Midland radios. The first set was a GXT300 (3 Watts of power) and I was more than 100% satisfied with it. With the GXT1000’s (5 Watts of power) I get a clear reception in town of 5 Kilo’s (3 Miles) plus and in the rural areas 10 kilo’s (6 Miles) plus! Used mainly for hunting purposes. Basic communication is easy to use but if you intent using all the functions of the radio make sure you read your manual. Something that can be added to the set or as an accessory is a cord or strap which attaches to the radio and then put around your neck to prevent the radio from falling out of your pocket.
TwoWayRadios is one of the best if not the best online shopping site that I have come accross! No hassles with delivery promises and received goods in good order. Another 2 sets is on order now!

I totally agree with Rassie, the GXT1000 might be the best overall radio on the market right now. Good battery life, insane range.

The Midland radios referenced seem to be the best performers, but remember those are GMRS radios that require a license for each individual user.

An alternative would be a MURS radio, such as the Motorola RDM2020, RDM2080, or an RDV radio programmed for MURS frequencies. MURS (multi-user radio service) operates on VHF frequencies, whereas GMRS such as the Midland GXT radios operate on UHF. The difference: VHF frequencies propogate better outdoors; that is they can bend around trees, hills, and foliage. UHF does not do as well outdoors, but rather is best used in steel, concrete, and urban environments due to its ability to “penetrate” these materials and provide further range in buildings.

Here is an example:
I had a VHF “base station” setup on MURS (2 watts). A friend of mine lives 8 miles away in a somewhat hilly area with a large hill separating us. My base station had a unity gain antenna on it while he was operating with a portable radio. The result: static communications but he could hear me on the second floor of his house.
Similarly, where my MURS VHF base station was set-up, a couple years later I installed a GMRS UHF repeater at my house (25 watts) with a 5db gain antenna. I put the antenna 15ft ABOVE where the MURS antenna was previously mounted on the house. The result: my friend with a 4 watt UHF GMRS handheld radio could not talk to me through the repeater nor could he receive transmissions from me when I used the repeater as a base station.

Just a point: different radios have different purposes and the same goes for frequencies. For hunting, camping, and OUTDOOR use, I always recommend a VHF radio if you will not use a repeater. In most cases, a 2 watt VHF radio will outperform a UHF 4 watt radio when used in a wooded outdoor environment.

Keep in mind, the Motorola RDM and RDV radio will be a “business class” radio versus the GXT consumer series. This means is should be more durable and have a higher life expectancy. The price reflects this also.

Good luck and safe hunting!
-Alexander, AlphaComm

I know this post is a couple of years old - but you are not comparing apples to apples when you talk about radios and power.

A Repeater is not a magical radio that automatically makes weak signals appear. As a matter of fact, the loss in the feed line and the gain of the antenna, along with the height of the antenna all has to be taken into consideration - after the power loss factor of the duplexer - which throws away some of the signal present in the receive of the repeater.

The most significant power factor is anything between 5 watts and 350 watts - since a 5 watt signal in open country can travel many miles - depending upon frequency. Since all signals reduce at the square of the distance away and noise is inverse the square of the frequency - as the frequency gets higher - the noise factor drops but the loss factor of the cable increases - which pretty much requires a person to use at least 7/8 hardline for feed line for a repeater antenna - and a station master antenna is mininum requirement for that type of situation…

Once you increase your transmit power beyond 350 watts - you come to the point of diminishing returns.

Anyone that works QRP understands this.

With a UHF signal - height is key - since a 10’ increase in antenna height between 24 and 36’ above ground can yield as much as a 10 db increase in perceived signal strength.

Measuring signal strength inside of a house would be like trying to take a shower with your clothes on.
Some building materials are opaque to radio signals - while some windows - low E will block all radio reception…

You need to use two identical radios with identical antenna’s - and not walkie talkies to make a accurate assumption - and you also need to walk the antenna across the main roof of the house - because the signal doesn’t always refract / diffract over the horizon the same way and no one point of aim is the best for reception.

If I wanted to receive a signal from a known direction, I would put the antenna on the side of the house closest to the direction that the signal came from and I would hope that the moisture in the grass would help to reflect some of the received signal back up towards the antenna in the mornings and evenings when there was a heavy dew.

I would also establish some type of ground plane underneath the tower in all directions - preferably about 128 or more ground radials - copper.

You would be suprised what a properly installed antenna will do…

I guess I should elaborate on my testing as we did use the repeater as a base station also with similar results. The repeater was a Motorola Desktrac (two Motorola Maxtrac mobiles) that you can operate as a TX base by removing the duplexer and hooking the antenna connection to the TX output of the repeater. This was merely a quick way at the time of installing the repeater to be sure the duplexer wasn’t out of tune (I don’t tune duplexers).

Since the Maxtrac mobiles are known to have better RX sensitivity than the Kenwood VHF handheld radio, and the antenna used with the GMRS repeater was more suited for base operations than the 1/4 wave VHF antenna in the MURS setup, it was clear to me that the VHF frequencies obviously had an advantage in my area where it is very hilly with heavy foliage.

Tower Tech you are right, there are so many factors affecting a true radio system including the coax, connectors, LOS, duplexer tuning (if applicable), radio tuning, etc. My example just provided a quick evidence of the performance of VHF vs. UHF in an outdoors woodsy environment.

As you reduce frequency - the wave length gets longer - hence it should travel further, due to the fact that when you get up into the UHF range - anything one or more wavelengths in size can and will block your signals.
Including a building 3 or more stories high, being inside of a house - the building materials inside of the walls - including steel reinforced concrete, stucco, alumium faced insulation and siding.

A directional antenna up in a attic can have severe attenuation problems from a piece of flashing 6 inches wide at television frequencies, or even the moisture underneath the asphalt coated shingles or clay tile roofing.

Hills, valleys, trees, leaves in the trees, time of day, time of year, solar conditions, geomagnetic conditions - even desense from other radios being operated on the same frequency with a different PL - with a stronger signal then yours can cause problems.

Here is a FREE tool that you can use to determine range for your repeater equipment.

Anything in your first or second Fresnel Zone can interfer with your performance.

Here is some other tools that will help you determine what else is in your neighborhood that might interfere with the performance of your repeater.

Cop shops, ambulance, pagers, FM broadcast radio stations, television transmitters, Cell Towers all plays a important role in how we communicate with each other and how good our equipment works in relationship to everything else in the neighborhood.

I have a 2 meter repeater two miles from my home that is atop a large mountain. It has a excellent horizon in three directions - you can see aproximately 12 miles in each direction.
It has a high VSWR due to a feed line problem or a antenna mismatch.
I suggested to the site owner that we do a PIM test and sweep test the line.

It is causing a spur 15 kc’s away.

The repeater owner said to me - well no one else has complained - so I guess the problem must be in your radio, because I have good repeater equipment and it looks good on the bench equipment when it was set up.

So many people do not understand PIM.

Cell tower people - however - does, because if we are not good neighbors, we have problems with one tower interfering with another, and that is not good. If we experience desense - then we loose customers when our tower cannot complete the call and has to hand it off to another tower.

And, because the tower is atop a mountain, and the people lives down below and cannot hear a repeater in Pittsburgh PA or State College - 75 miles away, they do not have those frequencies programmed into their radios.

The people that does operate on those frequencies are so far away - they do not hear the repeater in my neighborhood that is stepping all over the other repeater, even to the point of opening up the squelch on my radio when no signal is present from the 146.730 repeater…

Its all a learning lesson.

ps - you don’t use a repeater for hunting purposes.
At least not around here.
If I can hear you, and you can hear me - then so can anyone else that is in range of the repeater. Including the Game Warden.

In Pennsylvania it is illegal to use radios for the purpose of being organized for hunting. This means if I say to my brother over the radio - hey - get ready, there is a big buck coming your way! = this is illegal.
It is legal to say - be careful, there is a big buck coming your way - make sure that you are safe so no one shoots you!
If you say, come around the hill towards me and I will stand here and wait until you get here - to see if anything comes out of the woods in front of you! This is illegal.

If I say - I will be here ( point X on the map ) I will see you when you get here, - that is not illegal…

If you say - I saw 15 deer so far today, this is illegal - due to the fact that you are telling him - I am having a good / bad day here - and this is where the deer are / aren’t = that is organizing…

The Game Wardens here listens to that.
Using names - also gets you into trouble.

The Game Warden pulls you over to check your licenses, - oh, I see your name is Tom and your name is Dick and your name is Harry…
He has a recording of radio traffic between Tom, Dick and Harry, and the big 10 point buck they just got. Oh and by coincidence - you have a 10 point buck in the back of your truck… Oh wait a minute - let me write you another ticket. It’s not good…