March 2, the Fort Wayne Radio Club once again prepared to hold its monthly fox (hidden transmitter) hunt, starting at 1:30 p.m. local time. Since the winner of the previous hunt, Don, K9LI, was not available to be the fox, the second-place team of W9LAN, W9SAN, and their grandson Alex Smith went off in search of a suitable hiding place somewhere in Allen County. Linda and Steve had been surveying sites for the previous two weekends and decided to reactivate a site that had been used many years ago, the Hanson Quarry observation tower on Sandpoint Road, not far from former Elmhurst High School site on the city’s southwest side. The weather was unusually warm, and the sun was shining; it was looking like that ground hog in Pennsylvania was right this year! The mood of the foxes was also unusually wacky, as the hunters were about to discover!
Back at the starting location, the veteran team of Al Burke, WB9SSE; Carol Burke, WB9RUS; Jim Pliett, K9OMA; and Muriel Pliett, KA9YYI were ready, along with Charles, KC9MUT and his young daughter. Then some newbies showed up. It was the OM and YL team of Adam and Meghan Warrix, KD9NRT and KD9ODP, along with new FWRC director Spencer Cassady, KD9NRS. The Pliett/Burke team took Spencer on board their vehicle, and Meghan and Adam joined KC9MUT and daughter as ride-alongs in his truck.
At 1:30 p.m., the foxes, apparently high on life, started transmitting at the 25-watt level. It must have been the sunshine making us giddy, but we had fun giving signals on 146.430, imitating the dastardly communists Boris and Natisha from the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons of the late 50s and Alex doing his best jungle bird calls. Several visitors swung into the observation parking lot only to quickly roll up their windows and leave promptly! OK, we weren’t that bad, but we had fun with it. The microfox meanwhile was transmitting away hidden by a chain link fence (we hoped would spread the signals and make it more challenging). We listened to it at 2.5-minute intervals and made high-power transmissions every five minutes.
The initial transmissions were done with Linda’s little quarter wave vertical on the car at 25 watts. Charles could hear the signal, very weak, and the Pliett/Burke team could not. So, I quickly dug out a mag mount 5/8 wave vertical, placed it on the car roof, and that did the trick! If it didn’t, I had a colinear antenna and a fiberglass 20-foot mast with a tripod to help with the strength of the fox. Be prepared! Charles’ extendable mast in the bed of his pickup was an advantage here, as it gave him an edge in antenna gain!
After about 40 minutes of our goofy and animated “fox talk”, we noticed Charles’ silver RAM come zipping down Sandpoint Road. We knew we had been found! Charles later told us he had believed the fox was at Eagle Marsh and even went by Foster Park to get a better bearing. Shortly after Charles and Adam and Meghan arrived, the second team with Pliett/Burke/Cassady showed up. The race to find the microfox was on!
Initially, everyone went up the stairs into the huge metal observation tower that the quarry company had erected to allow safe viewing of their giant hole in the earth. We thought about hiding it there but realized that there were no good hiding spots inside, so we placed the fox along the chain link fence around the outside of the property. Newbie Adam and Charles spotted the fox almost simultaneously, but Adam was given the 1st place! So, he is now charged with being the fox for the April hunt.
After the second team found the fox, we adjourned to the Azar’s Big Boy in Waynedale for tall tales, and discussions of radios, fox hunting, and other unrelated topics. We were joined by former hunters Kim and Jim Machamer, KB9DOS & KB9DOT, who were in the area, and had helped out with directions from their home QTH. All in all, a good time was had by all, and we look forward to more hunts during our centennial year. Again, we extend an invitation to all those interested to come out, learn the craft, and join us for future fun!
Steve and Linda Nardin, W9SAN and W9LAN, and Alex Smith
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