GMRS - hunting use


Hoping for some advice. My situation:

2 hunters, always within 2 miles of each other. Also a Base camp (hunting cabin with AC power and satellite wifi) that the hunters are within 10 miles of. Terrain is foothills of Adirondack Mountains - some terrain for sure but not High Peaks stuff.

I’d like radios for the two hunters to be able to communicate to each other, and back to the cabin if possible. GMRS (paying for the license) is what I’ve found so far. Not sure if that is a good idea or not.

I’m wondering about Midland GXT1000 handhelds (hunters) and Midland XT275 (cabin).

Is there a better way to think about this? I’ve heard of people using ICOM, but not sure how the UHF/VHF thing works in terms of legal use?

Any and all insight appreciated!

UHF is line of sight and suffers sometimes in heavily forested areas. VHF can better better in the trees. GMRS is UHF MHz. For VHS you would probably need to go tot he Amateur Radio side and use to MHz.

If you want to with GMRS I would look for true GMRS radios. They will have removable antennas and TX at up to 5 watts and can still communicate with FRS radios. Midland won’t release their TX power specifications but those radios won’t TX more than 2 watts. There is not a lot if difference between 2 and 5 watts but the GMRS radios that are not combinations FRS/GMRS tend to have better RX/TX capabilities.

You probably won’t reach 10 miles in the terrain you mention unless the cabin is on top of a hill with a pretty good line of sight to where the hunters will be. The 2 miles may be doable depending on the terrain in between the hunters. I live in a mountain area and can talk to a family member that lives 3.8 miles away using 5W handheld GMRS radios and we don’t have direct line of sight.

Having a mobile radio as a base station in the cabin is a good way to go since you have power. You can plug in a power supply for the radio and get the antenna up as high as you can above the cabin.

I have used UHF (both HAM and GMRS) and VHS (HAM 2m) handheld radios in the mountains in heavy forested and not so heavily forested areas. There have been a few cases where the VHS would reach out further than the UHF but both have worked for me. I choose to use GMRS because my friends have no interest in getting an Amateur license.

Sounds like you have a nice area in which to hunt. Good luck.

1 Like

Thank you for the reply, it’s much appreciated.

A few questions:
-I didn’t realize the Midlands were 2W. Would you have any recommendations for true GMRS radios?
-Would you have any recommendations for a mobile base?

This is entirely new to me so I very much appreciate any direction!

I don’t know that the Midland radios you mentioned are 2W. Being that they have a non removable antenna and do not support using repeaters they are probably no more than 2W, but, as I said Midland will not divulge the actual power output for these radios. They are also narrow band only.

Is the Midland XT275 you referred to the MXT275? If it is, and you purchase the USB-C version it can be updated to be able to use wide band.

There are many different brands and models at different price points when it comes to GMRS handheld radios. I have used Boafengs, Raddiodty, and BTech radios and finally landed on Wouxun GMRS radios. Wouxun being the upper end of the prices but several models are IP67 rated for water and dust and most are built like a tank. You can search Amazon for 5W GMRS handheld radio and you can spend days comparing and reading reviews. Give BuyTwoWayRadios a call and they can be a great help. I have spent many dollars with them. I have spent from $25-$170 for handheld GMRS radios and a lot more for Amateur band VHF/UHF handhelds. I do believe, in the long run, you get what you pay for. But a $30 radio may fit your budget and your needs perfectly well.

I started in HAM radio several decades ago, not for the experimentation and camaraderie, but to use handhelds between vehicles and on foot in the desert and mountains. Most of the people I traveled with were not interested in testing for a HAM license. GMRS has worked just as well for my needs and getting the license is more palatable to my friends.

Very helpful, thanks again. Will check out those Wouxun models.

The wattage of the Midland radio depends on whether it’s an FRS or GMRS model. Most of the FRS models are well under 2 watts, usually 1 watt or less. The power levels of professional grade GMRS radios vary depending on the channels, although the handhelds typically go to 5 watts and the mobiles up to 50 watts. This short Radio 101 video explains the wattages on the GMRS. Coincidentally, the video was just published this morning.

The actual wattage of the Midland GXT1000 depends on the age of the radio you have, because it has undergone several revisions through the years, fluctuating between 2.5 and 3.5 watts. According to the documents posted under the current FCC ID for the radio, it’s been tested at around 2.43 watts. The MXT275 is a 15 watt mobile radio.

In contrast, the Wouxun radios maximize the wattage allowed for the GMRS. For instance, the KG-805G is a full 5 watts (the FRS version of this model, the KG-805F, is a full 2 watts, the maximum allowed on FRS). The KG-935G Plus, which is a heavy duty GMRS radio, has a maximum power rating of 5.5 watts. As for the mobiles, the KG-XS20G Plus has 20 watts and the KG-1000G Plus has a full 50 watts.

Ordered two KG-935G plus radios today. Thanks for the help, guys.
I’m going to wait on the base station, as I’ve got an InReach I can use to communicate to the cabin (and vice versa) in case of emergencies. But a 50W mobile sounds awesome!

1 Like

Good choice. I have two. Be careful though, that model can turn you into a radio nerd.

1 Like

I have two as well and they are particularly handy in the evening when I’m out chatting on a local repeater while walking the dogs. It’s pretty much my job to walk them at night and I take the radio with me so I have something to occupy me while they are occupying themselves. It turns out the flashlight is great for picking up after them and as a safety light while walking along the side of the road. The nice thing about it as there is ample power for me to TX and RX and keep the flashlight on at the same time. I do this almost every evening now.

Remember when flashlights first got fitted and we all laughed? They’re really useful! I work on dark stages, and getting a phone out is a pain. Plus belt clips let you attach the torch to all sorts of things.

I agree! I find the flashlight on radios useful in a number of different situations.

I received my KG-935G plus radios, very solid feeling. I’ve simply turned them both to the same channel (between 15 and 22). Anything else I need to do to make sure I optimize performance in somewhat mountainous terrain?

That should do it. I would start out on high power as it may help a little, Antenna height is the main thing but if you can’t get the radio to a higher elevation more power can help. Some folks will go with and aftermarket antenna like a Nagoya NA-771G. After some trial and error I have found the OEM antenna to be good. The longer antenna may help if you are at the fringe edge of reception. I live 3.7 miles from my daughter and her family in the mountains. I am 700 feet higher elevation then they are but there is a ridge between us that tops out at 80 higher than line of site. We can communicate easily with the 935G+ as well as several other radios. Good luck.

When it comes to the terrain, there is only so much you can do with any radio, because a natural impediment such as a mountain is one that can’t easily be overcome no matter what you throw at it. If there are repeaters in the area with tall antennas with which you can communicate, that’s probably about the most optimal setup you can have. Everything else on the KG-935G Plus such as the antenna, battery power, squelch levels and general features are already pretty much optimized for the radio out of the box.