Bellman and Flint Terrier Locator
We were sat on a large earth on the edge of a forest in Mid Wales when I was first introduced to the Bellman and Flint terrier location system. Beneath our feet the terrier chased its quarry through a myriad of tight, sandy tubes that stretched far and wide into the woodland. I had heard of this new system before but had never used one in the flesh and, like with most new things, I was a little dubious. Very soon my apprehensions evaporated when I observed, first hand, the benefits of such a revolutionary location system. The earth covered a good area and stretched out far and wide from the edge of a plateaux right into the woodland. Just finding the terrier would have been an achievement with the old Deben kit, but all we did with the Bellman was follow the numbers in the direction that made them decrease. Easy as pie. We walked quite a way from the entrances under some small Beech trees and there was the terrier merrily baying away at just over a metre deep. With the old style boxes we would have been walking around, clambering over brash, bent double and swinging the grey box from side to side with a hope of stumbling upon the terrier. After that first day I was most impressed, we went on to dig another couple of foxes, bringing the mornings tally to a respectable four.
Last season we really tested this location system in every place we could. Big earths, small earth, drains and even soaking wet earths that would have seen off the old collars. On over a hundred digs last season we only had one hiccup and that was not down to the actual locator itself, but the fact that the batteries fitted were not fresh. That aside we never had a single problem. In my opinion this terrier location system is the most revolutionary forward step in terriers for the last decade, giving us confidence to work the dogs anywhere. I have always found the old Debens unreliable and I went through a couple of collars a year as well as the odd box now and then. Their susceptibility to water was their biggest downfall and even when fully taped up we had many problems. The trouble was that we simply had to use them as there was no alternative available on the market. Just how many terriers have died when the old collars failed? The "leather" collar itself was flimsy, once wet it seemed very weak and when it dried out it was brittle and would often crack. Not so with the Bellman and Flint, the collar is very strong indeed, it is removable from the actual unit and so is easily washable and should , for whatever reason, it break then it is easy to buy another collar and change it. The Bellman & Flint collar is very strong and it would take some serious hammer to break it in normal use. My own collar has a few bite marks in it, but its still very strong indeed. The components that send out the signal is housed in a transparent and very strong casing, sealed with a rubber O ring to ensure 100% waterproofing. Again, should any of these be damaged in any way, replacements can be bought. I have found this new system very reliable, and even when a terrier has been soaking wet the collar had never faltered in any way. Last season we worked a smallish earth with a young terrier. After five minutes the fox hit the net, the terrier however, flew out of an unseen bolt hole straight into a river! Luckily we heard the loud "Splosh" and pulled her out. Even though it had been totally submerged the collar still worked perfectly and we carried on hunting, bolting another vulpine from an old earth a couple of hours later.
Unlike the old Deben system that had to be taped up and left on all day, the Bellman and Flint can be activated by simply running a magnet over it. A green flashing light shows activation and a red light appears when the battery life goes to the last 20 hours. I know that there have been the odd concern about the flashing lights making the quarry a bit more spirited, but this is easily stopped by pressing a small piece of blue tack over the green light, should you so wish. Of course, never cover the red light as this is the low battery warning. The receiver boxes are very solid and weather resistant. They are easy to work and also let you know when the battery is getting low. Simply push the switch to the "Send" position and the battery life appears on the screen in a percentage. There is an arrow on the locator but I never pay any attention to it, finding it easier to follow the decreasing numbers until I am right on top of the terrier. I know some lads have struggled to use this new box but for the life of me I cannot understand why. Take it slow and its easy. The box also emits a tone that changes the closer you get to the terrier, this is very handy to have on whilst digging as if the terrier moves then you will know immediately. The readings displayed are in 0.1 of a metre which is 10 cm, so this is worth remembering if the readings fluctuate a little bit it really is only a little bit. A terrier moving back and forth in a tube can easily travel a foot, which is 0.3 of a metre.
So now, at last, the terrierman has a reliable piece of kit he can use on his faithful terrier. No more wandering around looking for the dog, bent double, swinging your arms back and forth, wondering if the dog is still moving, or if the collar has gotten wet. It is a piece of kit that can be relied upon for a heavy work load and is waterproof, user-friendly and all parts are changeable. They cost about £300, which may seem like a lot of money, but I always say, how much is your prized tyke worth? How much money would you give to locate your working terrier should he become stuck ? If your gallant worker is priceless then don’t begrudge paying a few hundred to ensure its safety whilst working.