Last night was my second stint as 80 Meter Fox. The session was a great disappointment to say the least. When you put out that "CQ FOX" call, you brace yourself to be hit with the cacophony of a solid wall of call signs all trying to make contact with you, the Fox. When that doesn't occur, it is a bit unnerving. When you don't get an answer to your CQs for the first five minutes of the hunt, you know it's going to be a long night.
And it was.
In the 90 minutes of the hunt, I handed out a little over 20 pelts. That might be a "personal worst". I was told later, that the frequency I had picked was occupied by two W5 QRO stations that were having a ragchew. Needless to say that propagation was such that both stations were unheard in NJ. Unfortunately, I was masked under the QSO to the rest of the country.
I worked mainly stations from New England, the Mid Atlantic, and as far west as Illinois and Wisconsin, and as far south as Virginia. W2SH, who is about 10 miles from me as "the crow flies" gave me a 229! That's a real indication as to how bad things were last night. I originally thought that perhaps I was having antenna problems; but using the G5RV or HF9V made no difference.
Bob W3BBO sent me this link: http://www.reversebeacon.net/dxsd1/?f=0&c=w2lj&t=dx, which is a "reverse beacon" listing. If you look at it, you'll see how propagation was limited to the areas I had previously mentioned.
The other Fox, Jim N0UR had a grand old time. He's located in Minnesota and once again, as Bob W3BBO has preached to me over and over again, "Location, location, location". When you're situated smack dab in the (more or less) middle of the country, you have a lot more places that can possibly hear you and work you.
Unless propagation improves over the next year, I'll have to seriously reconsider volunteering as a Fox during the next Winter season. Calling "CQ FOX" for 90 minutes without hardly any takers isn't really all that much fun. Although I am sure that by the time that point rolls around, that I will have totally forgotten last night and will once again sign my name on the dotted line.
72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!