Five teams assembled at the BiLo supermarket in Burnt Bridge for the 2001 Christmas fox hunt.
While John and Brett were logging entrants, a ratbag in a Holden demonstrated the ancient and complex art of “burn-out”. Encouraged by the noise and smoke generated from rear wheels attempting to gain traction on asphalt, the local car enthusiast endeavoured to spin his car around for more action. With the vehicle leaning at least 10 degrees and the rear differential refusing to allow both wheels to lose grip, understeer prevailed and the lurching automobile headed towards a stationary object. Displaying a reaction time unrivalled by the Schumacher brothers, the driver stepped on the go-slow pedal and locked up all four wheels. Tyres screeched, more smoke was released and the car came quickly to a halt – aided during the last milliseconds by a “no standing” sign that stood in our way of a greater appreciation of supermarket motor sport. We should note that no fox hunters were involved in any way in this fine exhibition of vehicular control.
Team hand-outs included instructions that hunts would be scored using an order-based system using numbered tickets attached to the fox. This method allows difficult hunts to be run longer if necessary so that teams have a greater chance of finding the fox without penalty. This is more encouraging for novice teams.
Meanwhile, David and Sophie tore off in the Landcrab (as much as you can tear off in an Austin 1800) to give the impression that the fox was being planted some distance away.
Some hounds took nearly 10 minutes to discover that the fox was actually in an alley way behind the supermarket, only metres away! No need to drive at all… the microfox was planted in the top of one of a number of bales of waste cardboard. All senses were working overtime included olfactory — the smell was reminiscent of dead alley cats and discarded fish bones!
The order was TXO, YQN, VR followed a while later by OW and VT. The location seemed to totally throw some teams whilst others took it in stride, tracking straight to the trasmitter. Perhaps they were expecting the classical fox — especially because the carrier was modulated by one of those annoying “music on hold” tunes. How could it possibly be that small?
The second hunt brought out that leaky coax thingy. Once untangled, it was strung up, over, around and through shrubbery in Warrien Reserve in Croydon. Powering the coax was Bryan’s “gaffer-tape-special” to ensure sufficient radiated signal.
If the near-field radiation pattern of 30m of leaky coax wasn’t enough, the damn antenna connection parted company with the rig, further increasing frustration. YQN first, followed closely by VR, OW, TXO and VT, the later teams incurring two breaks in signal. Luckily for them, hunt scoring was order based.
Hunt three required hounds to enter Currawong Bush Park in Warrandyte, map 34 G3, preferably from the north through an easily accessible gate. The fox was planted at the base of a tree amongst tall grass, near Mullum Creek, beneath transmission lines. After a long wait, VR arrived and found the fox quickly. YQN was second, running (as always) from a different direction. OW was third, and with time almost up, VT came forth.
Bryan entered Currawong Park from the south and became totally lost, with seemingly little guidance from his team. After the hunt he struggled onward until the fox was turned back on. Eventually he was reported found, accompanied by the usual impatient cries of “Is this the supper hunt?”
To maintain our outstanding record of controversy, the fourth hunt took advantage of a new bridge construction near Deep Creek Road in Ringwood. The gaffer-tape-special just happened to fit a cavity behind the NE end of a truss beneath one side of the bridge. Entry was via an undiscovered nature walk starting at an entrance on the south of the east side of the bridge. The walk led down to a location where one could choose either to crawl under the bridge (hard) or travel a little further down the hill and walk in (easy).
Signal strength (or lack of it) added to the challenge due to the unforeseen attenuation characteristics of the hidden cavity, steel and concrete, cyclone fencing above and the general topographic depression of the area. Bursts of signal from the car were needed to assist the hounds’ plight.
This was a turning point for VT, who was not unhappy with the location and finished first. VT was closely followed by the VRs, with lack of first apparently causing them some upset, then TXO, YQN and after some wait OW.
Just after the fox was hidden for hunt 5 in a devious but yet-to-be-revealed location, a hound requested that supper commence no later than 11:30. In the interests of world peace and hunger, the accommodating BLN team arranged a plan B.
The fox was quickly driven to Mahon Reserve in Ringwood and hidden amongst a thick group of trees. Anticipating that the fox might be hidden at the pre-arranged supper location, the hounds took off towards Ringwood’s McAlpine Reserve and waited.
Just as the last clump of dead bark was being gathered to conceal the fox’s bright LED, the park shook with the roar of 4WD vehicles and the smell of half-burnt diesel. Three teams entered the park from three different directions, leaped out of their possum-squashers and converged within the cluster of trees. In the midst of the dust haze, a scuffle broke out between Bruce and Geoff — these two hounds, who are normally quietly spoken and the model of politeness, engaged in what could best be described as a tug-of-war over the ticket booklet!
* Note for next BLN hunt: Remind hounds that their score is not proportional to the number of raffle tickets torn from the ticket booklet or the volume of foliage severed from the surrounding trees.
Fortunately for the remaining hounds, Bruce replaced a few tickets. After a confusing examination of the torn ticket remnants that were handed in and over threats of disqualification, VT was awarded first place followed by OW, YQN, VR, and (with only a few oddly-numbered tickets to choose from), TXO.
A BBQ supper was held at McAlpine Reserve in Ringwood, map 50 A2, where it was proven that you can’t cook meat if the gas bottle is empty. Thanks again to Sophie and Jodi-Ann for catering, Graham ‘3ZKM for assistance locating locations, and Brett for helping hide the fox.
<- Hunt Number ->
Team 1 2 3 4 5 Total Place
TXO 0 3 5 2 4 14 4
OW 3 2 2 4 1 12 3
VT 4 4 3 0 0 11 2
YQN 1 0 1 3 2 7 =1
VR 2 1 0 1 3 7 =1
1. BiLo, Burnt Bridge, MAP 50 D3
2. Warrien Reserve, Croydon, MAP 36 K11
3. Currawong Bush Park, Warrandyte, MAP 34 G3
4. Bridge NE, Deep Creek Rd MAP 49 D7
5. Mahon Reserve, Ringwood, MAP 49 K1-K2