Sunday, February 9 marked the date of the first foxhunt of the 2014 season. And this foxhunt was delayed a week from the original start date of the 2nd because of the on-going inclement weather that Ft. Wayne has been experiencing this winter. Wind, cold, snow, more snow, enough already!!
With an additional three inches of overnight snow on the ground, seven intrepid hunters made their way over to the Off-track Betting Parlor parking lot. The seven consisted of the team of Carole and Al Burke, WB9’s RUS & SSE, the team of Linda and Steve Nardin, W9’s LAN & SAN plus their grandson Alex, and the team of Dave Spence, K9NDU and Bob Dean, KC9UHU. Missing from the ranks were regular foxhunters Jim & Kim Machamer, KB9’s DOS & DOT whose vehicle was inundated in a snow bank and was thus out of action, and Jim & Annie Pliett, K9OMA & WB9YYI who were in fact luxuriating on deck chairs on a Cruise ship in the Caribbean. (It being Annie’s birthday, Jim gave her the choice of slogging thru the snow on a foxhunt, or a cruise. So guess what she chose…..go figure).
Charles Ward, KC9MUT and Fred Gengnagel, KC9EZP served the role of the fox. They were located at a city park in Grabill. (Did you know that Grabill has two parks?). The high power fox consisted of a mobile rig pumping about 130 watts into a yagi aimed at a water tower to kinda confuse the signal direction of arrival when close-in to the fox location. The fox itself was a micro-fox running about 100 miliwatts of microprocessor derived CW. It was buried beneath the snow in a valley formed between two huge piles of snow which required help from Sherpas to climb. I mean, those snow hummocks were huge.
Now you may ask, “Well, didn’t Charles and Fred’s footprints in the snow lead one directly to the microfox?”……and the answer is…. No, evil Charles included a leaf blower in his bag of fox-hiding tools and used it to obliterate footprints leading to and around the fox hid location. Remarkably devious wouldn’t you say?
Anyway, the fox starting transmitting on the input to the 146.76 repeater promptly at 13:30 and was heard by everyone (except Carole and Al….we didn’t have a DF antenna mounted on our vehicle…we tagged along behind Linda and Steve). The first bearings were to the east, and a shudder ran through everyone….”Oh no, not New Haven”. But then it became apparent that the fox was well north of New Haven based upon a bearing Jim & Kim Machamer took from their home QTH antenna in Blackhawk.
Eventually we wound our way out to the Leo-Grabill area based upon Linda and Steve’s DF readings plus the clues from Jim & Kim Machamer. Let me tell you, those Amish country roads don’t quite get the snow clearing attention that the roads in town do. As we passed by Amish folks out and about in their horse drawn buggies, they would spot the yagi on Steve’s roof and you could almost hear them saying, “Crazy Englishmen”, or, “I’d have gone with a cubical-quad”.
Once in Grabill we started to hear the microfox on our handhelds and that’s when we discovered that there were two parks in that town. Of course, we went to the wrong park first and thus were not the first to localize the fox. Dave and Bob got to the correct park first and were afoot when we pulled into the parking lot. Once we climbed the snow mountain and peered down into the valley, we found Dave and Bob, with Charles gleefully taking videos of the goings-on. It turns out that Dave physically found the microfox, but since we were all standing there looking at him, we were all scored as finding the fox at the same time, eighty three minutes after the start of the hunt.
As it turns out Charles got video of all the goings-on, both from a hand-held unit, and also from a remote camera he had emplaced in the area. The videos should be interesting to view, perhaps at a club meeting later in the year.
Given everyone found the fox at the same time, the winners of this hunt turned on mileage. Dave and Bob’s mileage was 16.3 miles versus the Nardin’s and Burke’s mileage of 17.3. So Dave and Bob were the winners and will serve as fox for the March hunt. Since Kim and Jim helped out with DF bearings from their QTH, it was decided that they deserved a few points (50) even though they were unable to physically participate in the fox track down. It was briefly discussed that we should come up with the 50 points by deducting them from Charles and Fred’s score considering that they provided neither Yeti protection nor avalanche warning to the fearless hunters at the fox hide site, but we decided to be magnanimous and just print the points. After all, the government does the same thing with money.
Scores for this hunt and for year-to-date were:
KC9MUT/KC9EZP: 733 points
WB9RUS/WB9SSE: 619.5 points
W9LAN/W9SAN/Alex: 619.5 points
K9NDU/KC9UHU: 629.5 points
KB9DOS/KB9DOT: 50 points
Following the hunt everyone buzzed over to Culvers on Dupont and chowed down. It was GOOD.
It was decided that the March foxhunt would start from the Public Safety Academy at Patriot Crossing in the Southtown Mall area, and the fox frequency will emit on 146.430 MHz. This is in line with the decision to vary start points since the Off-Track Betting Parlor facilities are moving to another site.