Tracks in snow fail to confuse fox hunters

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foxhunt cartoonDecember came and went…. cold, snow, and no foxhunt. Then came January…cold, lotsa snow, but still no foxhunt. And finally February arrived….still more cold and snow, but…. our intrepid foxhunters eventually came out of their caves and didn’t see the shadows of their yagis. So that meant that a foxhunt was on!!!

Thus for the February event, which occurred on Sunday, 8 February, (one week late because of, guess what, lotsa snow on the originally planned 1 February foxhunt date), three foxhunter teams gathered at the Off-Track Betting Parlor parking lot near Lima and Washington Center roads. They consisted of the team of Charles Ward, KC9MUT, Fred Gengnagle, KC9EZP, and Robert Dean, KC9UHU, the team of Kim & Jim Machamer, KB9’s DOS & DOT, and the team of Linda & Steve Nardin, W9’s LAN & SAN. In total seven rabid hunters.

Their quarry, the fox, was provided by Jim & Annie Pliett, K9OMA & KA9YYI plus Carole & Al Burke, WB9’s RUS & SSE. They travelled down to Klotz Park, near Southwick Village in south-east Ft. Wayne. From there they emitted the high-power fox signal on 146.430 MHz from a roof mounted quad with about 40 watts into the feedline. The low-power signal was loosed from a camouflaged micro-fox transmitter hung from a tree branch about 10 feet high in a copse of trees bordering a creek, and out in the middle of a show field, around 1000 feet from the Klotz Park ball diamond. (Let me tell you, tromping around in a snow field without snow shoes is hard work).

The fox began transmitting promptly at 13:30 local, and evidently was heard by all foxhunting teams right off the bat. About forty three minutes later, Charles and Fred and Bob showed up, drove into the baseball diamond portion of the snow field at Klotz Park, dismounted, and started hunting on foot having driven 10.8 miles from the starting point. About one minute later Kim & Jim showed up having travelled 13.0 miles followed twelve minutes later by Linda & Steve who had travelled 13.1 miles.

Now as I mentioned previously, stomping around in the amount of snow that had fallen in and around Ft. Wayne without snow shoes is not easy. And I had made a point of leaving multiple tracks in the virgin snow field in directions that led away from where we had hidden the fox. I even inscribed large signs in the snow that said “This way to the Fox, W9TE” with a big arrow. (And no, I didn’t make the signs the way you’re thinking I did,….I used a stick).
Despite all of this effort, my frigid penmanship evidently went unnoticed by the hunters. They trusted to physics and their equipment and eventually discovered the micro-fox hiding in the tree branch. Charles and team were the first to find the micro-fox sixty five minutes into the hunt. They were followed by Kim & Jim and by Linda & Steve who each located the micro-fox at seventy four minutes into the hunt.

So the Charles, Fred, Robert team won the hunt based upon time-to-find and mileage and thus will be the fox for the March hunt.

Interestingly enough, what with everyone tromping around in the snow, rooting through the nooks and crannies of the ball diamond, and later the trees along the creek where the micro-fox was actually hidden, interest, curiosity and suspicion were evidently aroused in some of the local neighbors because one, then two, and then three (and maybe more) police cars arrived on the scene shortly after the hunt had concluded. They quizzed Charles and crew, and later Linda & Steve at length as to the goings-on. Turns out they were interested in foxhunting and talked to Linda & Steve for quite a while. Everyone else besides Linda & Steve had departed the area and went over to Penguin Point (yes, they still exist) for the traditional after-hunt repast. We started to get concerned about why the police had detained Linda & Steve so long, and had started drawing straws for who had to go bail them out when they finally showed up at the restaurant and regaled us as to the cop’s questions. Linda & Steve told the cops they were welcome to join in on future foxhunts, but that they had to use radio gear, not shotguns.

All in all a good foxhunt, and of course a good meal at Penguin Point.

The March hunt is scheduled for Sunday, 1 March. Why don’t you join us?

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