Report on VK3YQN June Friday Night foxhunt

29th June 2008

Hosted by 3 groups from the YQN team

  1. Mark VK3ZNN, Ian VK3YQN & Amy
  2. Bruce VK3TJN & Suzanne
  3. Neale & Johanna

Started at Safeway Carpark, corner of Burwood & Stephenson’s Roads.

6 teams braved the cold night: VT, BLN, YDF, TXO, HRL, OW

All hunts were on 2m and all but the supper hunt were multi-leg events.

Hunt 1A run by Ian, Mark & Amy

This was positioned in bushes just beyond a lookout tower at the top of a hill behind (South of) the Nunawading waste recycle centre. It was designed to be fairly easy to find the first leg. Adam was first on the scene and found the gaffer tape fox in bushes but we were fairly well hidden and he got quite anxious when we didn�t respond immediately to him calling out his call-sign (although we did note the time).

Several minutes passed before TXO arrived on the scene running within 3 metres of the fox but straight past it and onward to the lookout which is obviously where it was … not! Climbing up to the lookout and then then looking all around it, then falling over on the way down due to the very slippery ramp and eventually finding it several minutes after arriving, just after Doug (VT) and Marta (BLN) found it at the 10 minute mark. Roger (HRL/MZ) arrived 3 minutes later.

When we told all the runners the 2nd leg frequency, we made a point of saying they should retune their sniffers as they might be able to hear it from where they were, knowing full well everyone definitely would hear it from that location. What we didn’t tell them was that even in broad daylight Mark couldn’t find a way through to the 2nd leg location, despite being able to see it from the lookout. This was due to a creek and very thick, impenetrable blackberries.

We tripped across Ewen(OW) heading up the hill after we�d packed up the fox and were heading down.

Hunt 1B run by Bruce & Suzanne

This fox was located down the end of a road that is shown on the Melways (South of fox 1A, on the other side of the creek), but that the locals appear to have done their best to erase from existence. Suzanne and Bruce awaited the hounds in a ‘possibly’ leech infected swamp, but was in reality probably just a bit damp from the recent rains.

The trick was that this hunt was only about 300m from the previous fox; that is, in a direct line, but that ignores the impassable river, not to mention real live swampy swamps (probably with more than imagined leeches) and enough blackberries to make even a YDF team member have 2nd thoughts.

Nevertheless, very soon we heard the unmistakable wail of a sniffer over the bird and frog noises. Unfortunately for Marta of the BLN team, it was the wrong side of the various nasty sharp and wet barriers. Still, we heard her give very explicit directions to her team, and any other team who happened to be listening, as to exactly where the fox was, so we expected their arrival in the not too distant.

It was, however, Adam from the YDF team who belonged to the bouncing light we’d observed gradually heading our way (it seemed across a farmer’s paddock, but we’ll ignore that). Gary for TXO was a few minutes, followed by Roger from the “more callsigns than can comfortably fit in a sentence” team (we’ll call it MZ for now).

The VT team was also close by but didn’t have time to run down the road before time was up. Dunno where the BLN team went despite the very explicit directions.

Further note on this location from Suzanne – hiding spot was definitely a potential leech zone! – squelchy, decaying, frog ridden spot. Just waiting for the leeches to inch their way along the dripping branches and drop down my neck. Put my hood up and tucked my pants into my socks just to make sure 🙂

The first hunt had more of a devastating effect on the teams than we�d anticipated and resulted in the BLN team in particular tossing in the towel on several of the remaining hunts.

Hunt 2a run Neale & Johanna

Arriving at our spot, we parked our car in a Baptist church’s car park. Another man parked nearby was curious as to our activities, but after a brief explanation seemed to decide we were mostly harmless, if a tad eccentric.

We sat and waited and waited at what we guessed was about halfway along the reserve until YDF-team drove up past us where they shouldn’t have been able to drive, realised their mistake and drove back to find us easily. We were then left in isolation to wait again until a couple of runners came up either side of the 10 minute mark. VT arrived 5 minutes after YDF, TXO, HRL and OW didn�t finish and BLN gave up.

Hunt 2B run by Ian, Mark & Amy

This was located in the old, abandoned Monash Secondary College. We positioned ourselves between a couple of building and waited.

First on the scene was Adam (YDF). He hunted around for a while before realising it was right in front of his nose, literally, poised inside an old tyre mounted at the top of a metal post about 1.5m off the ground (some sort of strange planter or bird bath?).

Next was Roger(HRL) 7 minutes later who spent quite a bit of time searching in the greenery that had grown over the fairly high cyclone fence that separated us from where we’d hidden the fox. Eventually we took pity on him and suggested he try his luck walking around and checking on the other side. 30 seconds later he was followed by Marta(BLN) and then Doug(VT). Ewen(OW) arrived overtime followed by Gary(TXO).

Hunt 2C run by Bruce & Suzanne

This spot was near where Bruce works. It was intended to be really close to leg 2B, almost a sniffer hunt. Bruce had checked out the location as he sometimes rides along that creek to get into work the back way, but as it turns out on the night we elected to go the other side of the creek. This gave a really big tree to hide in, but slightly easier access options.

Putting the fox up high often causes confusion for sniffing with Adam and Darian from YDF took quite some time to locate the fox-box, despite being first on the scene. Though first in, their leg time was significantly worse than some other teams who came in more directly without a few km detour southwards. This leg ruined YDF�s so far “perfect” score for the night!

All teams got in on this leg, which was good as we were starting to wonder if we’d somehow made the hunts too hard (is that possible ?).

Hunt 4a run by Neale & Johanna

This location, behind the substation in Waverley Road was found by Ian’s son Scott and has been known as the “Scott spot” for some months while we found a sequence of locations that suited its inclusion.

As expected, all teams found this fairly quickly and straightforwardly, including MZ who found it twice, under different call-signs just to confuse us. Most cars came up the access track to the freeway roadworks, dropped their runners and in some cases left them behind as they made their way to the next leg.

YDF was first in (again – this is getting very predicable). Poor Marta of BLN was 2nd in but looked decidedly worse for wear as she asked wearily “How many legs is this one?”. TXO and HRL/MZ were next followed a couple minutes later by VT, then OW.

Hunt 4B run by Bruce & Suzanne

Suzanne had sussed out this spot near Gardiners Creek on her lunchtime walk, as well as being quite familiar with the area after having set a street-O there recently. This fox spot was deliberately chosen for its confusing elements, although deceptively simple – some tree roots to hide it in, down a not very visible embankment next to the river, so that hounds could be unsure which side it was on… as they were – Adam, Douggie and Gary didn’t notice us sniggering in the trees up the hill as they ran down one side of the creek (where it was), then took off over the bridge and spent some time checking out the rocks on the other side, before coming back again and wandering around the embankment… he, he

On arrival it didn’t seem a difficult spot, perhaps too easy ? Anyway, we placed the fox amongst the roots of a tree next to the creek and had to go some way away to remain hidden.

Just as well we did, because very soon, Adam (for YDF) was on the scene, rushing right past us, down to the waters edge. Then, to our surprise, back up again. Where was he going ?? Yep, over the bridge not too far off and over the other side of the creek. Then, scrambling down the steep bank down to the water’s edge. Damm…not that side after all ! Back up the steep bank, back around over the bridge, and finally zigzagging back to the tree and in.

Marta (for BLN) made much quicker work of it, almost disdainfully knocking it off in a few seconds. Roger for MZ also made reasonably quick work of it. Douggie (for VT) also did the Adam style antics, checking out ‘both the wrong sides first. Ewen (for OW) joined Doug on the fruitless search of the steep bank on the other side. Ewen worked it out and was rapidly closing on the rooty tree when Adam (loud OW Adam, not 29yo YDF Adam) spotted us trying to be insignificant well away from the fox. “Ewen” he urgently calls, and goes and almost physically drags Ewen away from his nearly found quarry. We greet Adam and Ewen cordially, and then the penny drops that we are not actually at the fox, so back to the creek again. Meantime Douggie has stopped faffing around and has located the fox.

Gary for TXO finds it a few minutes later, so a full compliment again, which is good news, because we feared that may not be the case for the final leg of this hunt….

Hunt 4C run by Ian, Mark & Amy

This was planned to be the most challenging leg and certainly very different to the rest of the night’s hunts.

A very large (in excess of 2m diameter) drain had been found, hidden behind bushes with the top of it at ground height. We didn’t know until part way through the night if it would be appropriate (i.e. safe) to use it we’d been sitting on this one for many months. As it turned out it was perfect weather for it – too dry and it fills with fumes from people’s grey water illegally flowing into the storm water system. Too wet and it is dangerous, although a torrent sufficient to fill it would flood most of the surrounding suburb. The occasional light drizzle meant we had a steady trickle of water about 1cm deep which had washed away any gunge and there was no perceivable smell in there at all.

Ian and Amy positioned themselves about 100m up the drain, past a slight bend about 50m in and about 2m past another bend in a side drain only about 1.5m long due to it having been filled in. That put us almost directly under a 3″ thick steel and concrete cover with a few slots in it.

As expected (we’d previously tested this with Bruce sniffing around the area), hounds found there way to the drain cover in the middle of a dead end road on the other side of the freeway and railway line from the only access point. To give teams any hope of finding us, we’d positioned Mark up there to give them guidance to the other side of the freeway. Adam was first on the scene and cleverly counted his steps to the pedestrian underpass and then paced them out on the other side and then looked around for the entrance. It wasn’t long before we heard his musical testing out the drain’s echo properties all the way up it. Despite the length of the drain, Bruce had reported he could easily hear us talking from its entrance so we were careful to keep quiet.

It was amusing to occasionally see beams of torch light break the darkness of the tunnel from 3m above us, like a scene from a sci-fi film with aliens bright lights outside the door.

We heard David(BLN) above the drain cover declaring he’d given up on this one as well. Doug(VT) was the next one to break the silence of the drain followed some time later by Gary(TXO) and Roger(HRL/MZ). OW decided not to risk entering a drain.

We found out later that at least one resident had been concerned about all the strange goings on at the end of his usually quiet street and called the police. They arrived and were told there were teams hunting a hidden transmitter that was located on the other side of the freeway and had obviously got their bearings a bit confused. They decided they had better things to do with hteir time and left. Fortunately they were not told that the fox was located 3m below them and fortunately we were still sitting quietly in darkness; it might’ve been a little different if voices on beams of light appeared from out of the middle of the road!!

Hunt 5 run by Neale & Johanna

This was the supper hunt and was started 2 minutes before the midnight no-go zone, with Neale only realising he was meant to be setting this foxhole about 30 min previously. With no clues as to the location except an ambiguous map reference, he successfully found a suitably challenging place halfway up a bank of Gardiner’s creek, complete with plenty of high fences on both sides to provide lots of reflections and a nearby stormwater drain to provoke memories of the previous hunt. All but the last team scaled the 2m fence on the wrong side of the creek (there was an open gate in the fence further up you could drive a truck through … on the fox side of the creek) and braved the steep banks to find us on the other side. The hound from the last team had more fun, though, after repeated crossings of the bridge 100m downstream he scaled the fence and ran past the fox, realised his mistake and descended part of the bank to find the drain. His first response – “Oohhh, not this again….” and to head up it. Fortunately he quickly realised his mistake, and found the fox nearby, just outside the time limit.

First in was YDF, followed 5 minutes later by OW, with the other teams scoring 10 (BLN had skipped this hunt completely and headed straight to supper).


Supper was held at Bruce’s place in Ashwood.

There was a rumour about a certain team cable-tying a gate closed after them but even if this was true and we’d penalised them heavily, they’d still have taken out the night.

Final scores


Congratulations to the YDF team who were 1st in on the 1st leg of every hunt and would have had a perfect score other than their second leg times in 2 of the events.