As summer wanes and we start getting into fall, the weather remains delightful with warm days and the leaves still on the trees. But it won’t be long. Sooner or later the leaves will start falling as the cool breezes give us a hint of what’s to come. But for now all of our stalwart foxhunters are enjoying this weather and so meet at Krueger Park on the 7th of September to commence another search for their ever elusive quarry. The hunters consisted of the team of Steve & Linda Nardin, W9’s SAN &LAN plus their grandson Alex, the team of Jim & Kim Machamer, KB9’s DOS & DOT, the team of Jim & Annie Pliett, K9OMA & KA9YYI plus Carole & Al Burke, WB9’s RUS & SSE, and lone hunter Bob Dean, KC9UHU.
Now the fox for this hunt was implemented through the devious services of Charles Ward, KC9MUT, Fred Gengnagel, KC9EZP & Ben Myers, N9IRX. These guys obviously watched too many Rambo movies cause they humped about two hundred pounds worth of battery, Yagi, feedline, base-station, tables, chairs, an SA-7 missile system, a Jacuzzi and various other accouterments well over a mile into the abyss known as the Eagle Marsh Nature Preserve south-east of the intersection of I69 and West Jefferson Blvd on the city’s south-west side. Specifically they were located beneath a high-tension tower on Trail 2 of the preserve and from there operated as the high power fox. The low power (microfox) was located another 1000′ into the preserve beneath another high-tension tower. The microfox fed a Yagi pointed straight up at the center of the tower. This seems to have caused some interesting effects regarding micro-fox signal strength during the hunt. More on that later. The fox emitted on 146.340 MHz, the input frequency for the Ft. Wayne Radio Club’s 146.940/340 repeater.
The foxhunters meet at Kreager Park out by New Haven and swapped lies while waiting for the fox to erupt. It did so promptly at 13:30 hours and everyone heard it to the south-west, so off we went. By the time we got down to the corner of Lake and Coliseum, all of the other hunters seemed to have disappeared.
Now, we had decided to execute a slightly modified hunting strategy after last month’s hunt where-in I had driven a less congested route to avoid street repairs which cost us extra mileage. We decided to follow the most direct route based upon very careful, plotted DF readings (which paid off in the long run). However, once we got into downtown Ft. Wayne we noticed that the micro-fox signals were very strong. This typically is an indication to us to park and get afoot, which Jim & I did. The two of us wandered all around downtown on foot, chasing reflections of the fox signal that we think might have been coupled into the downtown area via the high-tension power line from the preserve. To add confusion to the whole affair, Jim kept getting strong 146.340 MHz signals from two or three banks downtown, probably some emission from their security systems.
Jim and I got separated, and we both wandered around downtown waving our antennas and soliciting all kinds of questions from passers-by who would typically ask “What in God’s name are you doing?” Eventually I got hot and tired and found myself in front of Cindy’s Dinner. So I stopped and got a coke.
As I was sitting there Jim came wandering by and we jointly decided that “the damn thing isn’t downtown.” So we got back in the van and headed west out Main St., then Jefferson Blvd.
The DF vectors eventually directed us to Engle Rd. where it intersects the Towpath/Eagle Marsh trail near the Aqua Indiana water well facilities. At that point we were getting very strong microfox signals again that pointed into the marsh. So we parked the van and started hoofing it southwest on the Towpath/Eagle Marsh trail. We walked, and walked, and walked, and, well you get the idea, noting that the DF vectors were gradually becoming orthogonal to our direction of travel. Then the Towpath/Eagle Marsh Trail turned north-west while we continued south-west on Trail 1, again for a long, long, long, long way, (did I say it was a LONG way?) until we came across trail 2 which finally headed west-north-west into the marsh, and that’s where the DF signal indicated the fox was. (BTW, Jim and I have petitioned the folks who run the preserve to rename Trail 1 to its more descriptive Spanish title, i.e., “viaje de los pies cansados” which of course translates to “Journey of the tired feet”).
About this time we spotted Steve Nardin and his grandson Alex walking out of the marsh, and Bob Dean marching in. Steve and Alex had found the fox, Bob had not.
About a mile down trail 2 we found Charles, Fred and Ben languishing in their hideout. They were relaxed but pretty much out of water and Deet, (as we silently muttered “Serves ’em right”). As it turned out, the microfox was under the adjacent high-tension tower, another 1000′ down trail 2, and pretty easy to find.
The Nardin team had been the first to find the fox at 141 minutes into the hunt. Bob Dean was second at 164 minutes, and we were third at 168 minutes. Jim Machamer came down with a medical problem and as a result Jim &Kim were not able to complete the hunt.
I decided to return the micro-fox to Charles and crew to save them the long walk from their hideout, and while I was doing that Jim decided to cut through the marsh to get back to the Towpath/Eagle Marsh trail via a much shorter walk, and hence back to the van. So he disappeared into the marsh which promptly swallowed him up. We were somewhat concerned since parts of the marsh were pretty deep due to the recent rains. Jim concluded the same thing when the water got up to his belly button, but he pressed forward and finally reached the Towpath/Eagle Marsh trail and hence the van. (I later heard that Jim was somewhat delirious when found, and he was mumbling something about “having met up with William Holden while in the marsh who was searching for some bridge that needed to be blown up”).
Meanwhile, the rest of us walked out to the Boy Scout’s Office parking lot at the western edge of the preserve where everyone, including Jim, eventually met up.
Our “follow the most direct path based upon the DF vectors” strategy paid off because we accumulated only 13.6 miles on the van (although I’m convinced that Jim & I walked at least that many miles too). Steve, Linda and Alex racked up 30.8 miles (as did Bob Dean, he was following them during the mobile portion of the hunt), and they made several side trips to Fox Island. As a result a combination of time and mileage resulted in the Pliett/Burke team being the winners of this hunt, followed by the Nardin team, followed by Bob Dean. The fox garnered the largest score this year (873 points) based largely on the elapsed time of the hunt. So, the Pliett/Burke team will serve as the fox for the October hunt. Fox frequency and start location are yet to be determined.
Statistics for this hunt and year-to-date are as follows:
Stay tuned for the starting location and fox frequency for the October hunt. Better yet, why not join us?