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January 22, 2021

The story below was recently written by journalist Richard Mann and published on SHOT Business. We are republishing with permission.

It had already been a long morning, with a more than a mile-long unsuccessful stalk on a big aoudad ram. The noon sun was pressing down hard, as we navigated a high mountain road in the West Texas mountains not too far from Mexico. Rounding a curve, our guide glanced over his shoulder to make sure the film crew was behind us. He immediately slammed on the brakes of the Polaris and said, “Oh my God, they rolled the truck!”

The big, four-door GMC was on its side, wedged against a tree about 100 feet below the road. Camera gear was scattered about, and steam was bellowing from the engine. When the guide, the other hunter, and I arrived at the truck, three of the film crew were staggering around in a daze. Two were still inside. It was clear one of the crew members was seriously hurt. Problem was, we were way the hell west of nowhere and with no cell service.

Journalist Richard Mann uses MXT antenna in yellow Jeep.

I immediately got on the truck radio with the outfitter. Fortunately, he was at a location where he did have cell service. I gave him the name and number of a Border Patrol captain who was a friend. Thirty minutes later, we were guiding a chopper in with a photography reflector. Had it not been for our mobile and handheld radios, a man would have died on that mountainside.

Too often, modern hunters take for granted that a cell phone is the only communication device they need, but this accident clearly illustrates how useful personal radios can be. That usefulness extends well beyond emergency use. They can help hunters keep tabs on each other during the day, and those equipped with a NOAA Weather Radio alert feature can also keep you informed about the weather. And, with GMRS capability and as much as 40 watts of power, their range will surprise you.

Midland MXT400 radio in dashboard.

According to the Federal Communications Commission, a GMRS radio (General Mobile Radio Service) is a repeater-capable licensed radio service that uses channels around 462 to 467 MHz. A test-free license from the FCC will cost you $70 and is good for 10 years. It allows you and all of your family members access to the GMRS channels using radios delivering more than two watts. FRS (Family Radio Service) radios utilize the same frequencies but operate at less than two watts and do not require a license.

Midland has a wide array of GMRS and FRS radios, and considering just how useful these radios are, retailers should consider carrying them. On a trip from West Virginia to Texas, we installed Midland 40-Watt MXT400 MicroMobile radios (SRP: $274.99) in all our vehicles. It made communication during the trip easy, and in the flat, open country of West Texas we were able to talk to each other at distances that sometimes exceeded 10 miles without the aid of a repeater. Not only are these radios highway-vehicle capable, they can be installed in ATVs and UTVs. My Polaris is equipped with the Midland MXT115VP3 MicroMobile ($219.99), which delivers 15 watts and has the NOAA Weather Radio feature as well. In the hills of West Virginia, I’ve reached out to the MXT400 in my son’s truck as far away as three miles, and I can also clearly talk with the handheld Midland X-Talker T295VP4 radios ($99.99) at a distance of two miles.

Hunter uses X-Talker T295 radio.

The other argument for GMRS radios is during times of natural disasters. After a hurricane or even mass power outages, it’s not uncommon for cell service to be out or nearly nonexistent. I spent 16 days without cell service in New Orleans, while providing law-enforcement services after Katrina. With GMRS radios, you can stay in constant contact with your family or loved ones at all times. Affordable, compact, and reliable, GMRS radios should be a part of any outdoorsman’s hunting kit and any survival plan.

Your customers may never need immediate lifesaving access to a United States Border Patrol helicopter, but they could very well fall out of a treestand. With GMRS radios, help is at your fingertips, whether you have cell service or not.

-- Richard Mann for SHOT Business

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