So I commented about the beginning of Fox hunt season last night; and sure enough the concept was new to some of the newer QRPers out there. I got some private e-mails that, "It sounds like a lot of fun; but ......."
No buts about it!
It is fun and it is easy! And to show you how easy it is; I will take you through it step by step. This way, you can jump in with both feet Thursday night and you will sound like a grizzled veteran. This Thursday night's hunt will be on 40 Meters. The good news is that you only need to concentrate on a very small slice of it - from 7.030 to 7.050 MHz, in fact. In that span, you will have two furry foxes hiding in the weeds. This Thursday, they will be Pat KZ5J and Arn KØZK. Somewhere in that frequency patch, if you listen closely, you will hear them call "CQ FOX". To make things even easier, they will split up. One of them will be hiding in the 7.030 to 7.040 patch, while the other will be hiding in the 7.040 to 7.050 patch.
Odds are that they will be operating split, meaning that they will transmit on one frequency while listening on another. You're job is to figure all this out. Don't be scared - it's not all that difficult! Let's say for example you come across KZ5J calling 'CQ FOX DE KZ5J U" on 7.035 MHz. This usually means that he will be listening for you to call him on or about 7.036 MHz. The "1 up" rule is not written in stone. It's up to you to listen up and figure out exactly where he is indeed, taking calls. Once you discover that, you either make use of the split button on your rig (or the RIT knob) to call on his listening frequency, while in turn listening for his transmission on his transmit frequency. A tip here - just put out your call once or twice - do NOT keep sending your call over and over and over. This will not accomplish anything except cause a very messy pile up!
If you are lucky to have been heard, you will then probably hear something like this, and I will use my call for the sake of the example.
W2LJ de KZ5J TU 559 TX PAT 5W BK
The exchange is signal report, state or province, first name, output power. In turn, I would send:
TU UR 559 NJ LARRY 5W DE W2LJ BK
If he missed any part of your exchange, he would ask for a fill at this time. You might get something like "NAME?" or "PWR?" If you get one of these you need to make sure he gets all your information for a valid exchange. If everything went well, you will probably hear something like TU QRZ DE KZ5J FOX U signaling that he's ready to take on the next hound.
And there you have it - a pelt in the bag and the opportunity to go find the other Fox.
If you hear the "U" or a "D" after the Fox's call that means they are listening up or down - usually 1 kHz, but not always! Sometimes it could be more and sometimes less. That's up for you to figure out. As the pileup thins and it gets late into the hunt, it's not unusual for the Fox to stop operating split and begin operating simplex. This can be determined by there being no "U" or "D" after his call.
As you can see, listening and listening well is the key to success. Just aimlessly putting out your call over and over and over again will not guarantee you any ind of success - in fact it just might make for an angry bunch of hounds.
There is also a Fox primer on the QRP Fox hunt site that you can read by clicking here. It was written by Lloyd Lachow K3ESE and is another good explanation of how this all works,
See you in the pack of Hounds tomorrow night!
72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!