Foxhunt report, Victorian Foxhunting Championships, 11 May 2002
On Saturday 11 May 2002, six teams gathered at the church hall at the south end of Army Road Pakenham for the 17th Annual WIA Victorian Foxhunting Championships. The weather was a fantastic sunny autumn day, about 22 degrees, perfect foxhunting weather.
Bruce VK3TJN set the first hunt on 2m, a single legged event intended as a warm-up. At this stage the VK3BLN and VK3BQZ teams had not arrived, so four teams set out to find the YQN Pajero, hidden on the north side of railway tracks (where else?) in trees, 800m west of McGregor Rd Pakenham, Melway ref 317C8. First in was Adam VK3YDF, followed by Ewen VK3OW and Greg VK3VT. VK3MZ also found the fox but missed out on points.
The second hunt was a three legged hunt-in-order event, with points going to the hounds completing all three legs (ie not on leg time). First leg: Bruce VK3TJN set the 70cm fox on Watson Rd west, near the west bank of Toomuc Creek. The road is poorly mapped, and the intent was to keep hounds guessing as to which side of the creek to head to. Teams were closely spaced into this fox, OW just beating the others. Jack VK3WWW and Roger VK3HRL ran the second leg, a 6m fox in Jack’s 2WD van hidden on the south side of the railway line 500m east of Mt Ararat Road Pakenham 318K9. There’s that railway line again… OW was in first, followed two minutes later by YDF (who had to wait for the down Morwell Superfreighter with an X and a P up front, ho ho ho, before they could run across the tracks and get in) and MZ five minutes after that. 2m comms indicated that Greg VT and John VK3BLN could not gain vehicle access to the 6m location, so the fox was moved closer to Mt Ararat Road to give them a chance. Greg VT got in 29 minutes after OW, and BLN ran out of time.
The third leg was a 10m transmitter in the YQN Pajero, being operated by Graham VK3KOA, and hidden on the south side of a new housing estate between a dirt mound and the ubiquitous railway line. Due to antenna problems, the signal was very weak and most teams had trouble on this leg. OW was in first, followed by YDF and MZ. VT found the fox but missed out on a point, and BLN was still looking for the second leg when the hunt was called off. Due to the difficulties experienced in getting in to the 6m fox, subsequent hunts were rearranged to ensure that foxes located away from trafficable roads could be found with sniffers. This was a significant lesson of the day:- even if the fox is in a two-wheel-drive vehicle, don’t assume the hounds can drive in!
Teams repaired to the church hall for afternoon tea and exchanges of stories, while the fox team prepared for the logisitically intensive third hunt.
The third hunt required teams to find five foxes in any order, the foxes being on 80m, 23cm, 70cm, 2m and 2m. The second 2m leg was in lieu of 10m (out of commission pending decent antenna!). All teams found Graham VK3KOA on 70cm, hidden in his car off Norris Rd 316D12. They all found Peter in the YQN Pajero in a paddock north of Grices Rd 131J8 transmitting on 2m. This spot was a personal favourite amongst the fox team because of the unmapped turns required to get in. The BLN land crab demonstrated its genuine lack of off-road abilities, to the delight and amazement of onlookers.
Four teams found Jack WWW (80m), whose van was loosely concealed on Bladens Drain Road, way to the south-east of Pakenham.
Four found Bruce VK3TJN on 2m on the grassy hill west of Ahern Rd Pakenham 317E2.
One team (Ewen VK3OW) found Roger VK3HRL (23cm) whose 2WD Falcon was perched on a hill to the west of Pakenham (212B12, west of O’Neill Rd). The YDF team nearly found this fox in the dying minutes but lost signal when the narrow Yagi was inadvertently changed from horizontal to vertical polarisation for a few minutes before the hunt was called off.
*** Dinner time *** This is where Bruce VK3TJN takes up the report… After the delicious spit roast (now becoming a semi-regular YQN occurance at Vic championships) and the assorted cheesecakes & ice cream & all sorts of other evil delights (I would have said chocolate cake here but Peter would start salivating, and that makes a terrible mess of the keyboard), the teams prepared for the sniffer hunt.
At last everyone was ready, and after a bit of a false start (which if I didn’t know Roger better was potentially pre-planned) hounds quickly closed in on the pile of pinetree cuttings in the yard. With echos of a Mt Gambier sniffer hunt it was the first person to find the way in who won, and that happened to be Adam YDF. The hunt was over before some even realised it had started !
Now teams gathered for the serious part of the championship. The multi-leg night hunt is always designed to test the hounds and this one was to be no exception! The hunts were to be hunted in fixed order 2m, 70cm, 6m, 10m, 2m (again). We switched around the 6 & 10 legs to allow the VT to hunt effectively since they lacked a 6m sniffer (anything to make people happy).
Graham ran the 1st 2m leg and he was to be found in Pakenham Upper (Hoyles Rd 313H12). Most teams found Graham within a spread of five minutes, with BQZ bringing up the rear 14 minutes after YDF.
Roger manned the 70cm transmitter, and as we all know Roger is happiest near a railway line. Toot toot, keep the anorak dry and notebook handy! In this case he was in trees west of Beaconsfield Station (131H1). Much amusement when the MZ team decided to disassemble their foxhunting gear before proceeding under the very low clearance nearby railway bridge. A much higher bridge was about 30 seconds’ drive to the east, but the navigator must have been asleep. Pity they only had to drive another 100m before having to get out and sniff anyway.
Peter struggled to put out a good 6m signal with a small duck antenna from beyond the end of Bourke Road (South of Pakenham Keymap14). Sorry about the low signal on this leg people. Only the VT team didn’t find this leg. BLN took an award-winning 20 minutes, but BQZ took a record 98 minutes attempting to DF using only a WWII army relic and a completely non functional 6m sniffer (courtesy me…ooops sorry about that Steve….but at least I’ve fixed it now).
I spent my time putting out about 40W of 10m from deep into some bush near Gordon Rd (316B7). I had managed to use the ATU to load up some wire draped in a tree, but the tuning was still a bit unexciting. Still enough signal for all teams to eventually find me, but there was a long wait for some of you (a whole CD’s worth in one case). BLN had trouble with the SSB signal on this leg having traversed Gordons road about 3 times before requesting hints from the fox. First team through was YDF (and you still want me to forgive you Steve ?), last was BQZ after their lengthy 6m sojourn. VT didn’t bother with 10m for some undefined reason (too cold ? too many mosquitoes ?).
The final leg was a ‘traditional’ crater hunt, on 2m. Luckily Pakenham had a handy crater 317B8 right near the middle of town. VK3YDF got in first, suitably distracted by the fox team members sitting on the park bench at the bottom of the crater (the fox was in scrub half-way up the crater wall – see, we do learn stuff at Mt Gambier). The VK3MZ team, after finding 10m, proceeded to track down a local repeater atop Mt Dandenong by setting their rig incorrectly. They in fact drove so far in the wrong direction they elected to carry on driving home instead of returning for supper. It’s ok Ian . We just won’t mention 1MHz ever again. ever. Actually they had a change of heart and got into the crater 13 minutes behind YDF, closely pursued by VK3OW. VT dropped in 17 minutes later. The fox was moved to the church hall and found by BLN and (much later) BQZ.
Teams returned to the hall and enjoyed pecan pie, left-overs from dinner, plus fresh hot food and drinks. Meanwhile the array of prizes was unveiled and scores quickly tallied, checked, subjected to VK3YNG/VK3YDF “scoring system is screwed” hypothesis testing, and announced.
A word on scoring. Points were awarded Mt Gambier-style, 3 for first, 2 for second, 1 for third, none for everyone else. For multi-leg fixed-order hunts, only the final order counted. The multi-leg any-order event was scored like ARDF – number of transmitters, then time taken. Prizes were awarded to winners and place-getters, and “encouragement awards” given for noteworthy achievements.
Team Hunt Total Place 1 2 3 (Sniffer) VK3YDF 3 2 2 3 10 1st VK3OW 2 3 3 1 9 2nd VK3VT 1 1 2 4th VK3MZ 1 2 3 3rd VK3BLN = 5th VK3BQZ = 5th
The sniffer hunt was won by Adam VK3YDF. Second was Geoff VK3VR,followed by John VK3BLN.
Congratulations to VK3YDF. In a break with tradition, YDF declined to run the 2003 Championships, and Ewen VK3OW has agreed to host them instead.
Thank you to all teams for their participation and comments. Particular thanks to Sue Christian and the spit roast crew for the catering. It’s hard work and mostly thankless, particularly while the
boys are out playing.
See you all at Mt Gambier.