March fox hides in Harlan nature preserve

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Photo of fox hunters at nature preserve entrance

The March foxhunt kicked-off from the Ft. Wayne Safety Academy parking lot at 13:30 hours on the 9th of the March. This was the first instance of starting hunts from locations other than the Off-Track-Betting Parlor. The weather was cold but clear, and substantially better than the weather the week prior, the originally scheduled date for the March hunt.

Eleven hunters showed up at the Safety Academy site consisting of the team of Jim & Annie Pliett, K9OMA & KA9YYI along with Carole & Al Burke, WB9's RUS & SSE, the team of Steve & Linda Nardin, W9's SAN & LAN plus their grandson Alex, the team of Kim & Jim Machamer, KB9's DOT & DOS, and the team of Charles Ward, KC9MUT, Fred Gengnagel, KC9EZP and new foxhunter Jeff Brady, KC9ZGN.

Dave Spence, K9NDU and Bob Dean, KC9UHU provided the role of the fox for this hunt, and they were ensconced out in the Herman Hammer Wald Nature Preserve, part of the ACRES system of preserves, close to the intersection of Rupert and Hurshtown Roads northeast of Harlan. Dave & Bob utilized a cubical-quad for the high power fox, and microcontroller controlled 30 milliwatt emitter for the hidden (micro) fox. The micro-fox was hidden in tree branches at about six feet off the ground, and both it and the high power fox emitted on 146.430 MHz.

Given that the line-of-site difference between the fox hide site and the Safety Academy was a little over 20 miles, the first fox transmission was a little difficult to pick up at the Safety Academy site, but eventually everyone got a rough bearing, east as usual, and off we went.

Sometimes on fox hunts all of the hunters tend to form a pack when heading out in pursuit of our quarry, so we more or less keep running into each other (figuratively) until we get close to localizing the fox. That didn't seem to occur on this hunt as we lost track of the other three vehicles in short order. The yagi mounted on the roof of Jim's van seemed to give us clear and consistent bearings as we wandered farther and farther into Amish territory.

It being Sunday the Amish were out in force in their horse-drawn buggies traveling here and there (as a rule going to church services). They seemed to be bemused at the antenna on the roof of Jim's van and (because I assume they had seem the other foxhunters too), I believe were grading them. (We got two 8 ½'s and a 9).

Anyway, guided by the DF bearings, we eventually got to the Herman Hammer Wald Nature Preserve site and found that the Nardin and Machamer teams were already on site. I was driving Jim's van and smartly pulled into what I thought was the driveway only to get it stuck in a cleverly camouflaged snow drift. But more on that later.

Once on site we got our fundamental and third harmonic hand-held equipment out and started listening for the microfox. Even though Charles, Fred and Jeff were last to arrive on the scene, they were the first to find the microfox, followed three minutes later, and simultaneously by the Nardin and Machamer teams, and finally one minute later by our team. Mileage driven by the Nardin, Machamer, Ward and Pliett/Burke teams were, 28.8 miles, 28.8 miles, 29.3 miles and 34.0 miles respectively.

Applying the mileage and time-to-find data, the Nardin and Machamer teams tied for first place, followed by the Pliett/Burke team, followed by the Ward/Gengnagel/Brady team. The Nardins and Machamers decided that Jim & Kim should be considered the winners of the hunt and so they will serve as the fox for the April contest.

Despite most everyone pushing on Jim's van, it would not budge from the snow drift I drove it into. Charles saved the day by producing a chain that he attached to his rear bumper and the van's and quickly got the van out of its quagmire in the snow. Thanks mucho Charles. Boy, winter sucks.

Following the hunt everyone buzzed over to Culver's on Maplecrest and partook of their fare. It wasYummy!

Jim & Kim will determine the starting point and fox frequency for the April foxhunt, and we will publish that data once known.

Scores for this hunt and for year-to-date are:

Participant(s) This hunt’s points Year-to-date points
KC9MUT/KC9EZP 415 1148
KC9ZGN 415 1148
K9OMA/KA9YYI 452 452
WB9RUS/WB9SSE 452 1071.5
W9LAN/W9SAN/Alex 459.5 1079
K9NDU/KC9UHU (Fox) 851 1480.5
KB9DOS/KB9DOT 459.5 509.5