The Mumbai Fox Hunt was organized by VU2SVS, VU2PLE, VU2NOW and VU2KWI with moral support from VU2SPM and others on 16th February, 2014
We all assembled at Vitthal Kamat's on the Highway for a quick breakfast and tea / coffee. The group from Nashik were there and were most enthusiastic.
We also had in our midst, Dr. Leon Pareira who has a Ph.D. in Toxicology and specializes in venom's. His presence was an added precaution to ensure that snakes did not cross paths with the "Fox hunters". He provided some valuable tips and suggestions on handling a snake situation.
We all moved to the site of the Fox Hunt and setup our equipment and antenna's. VU2PLE and VU2NOW (with help from VU2VPQ and others) setup the Base Station to monitor the Fox frequency and an Emergency frequency in case of any mishap. A small briefing was given to the participants regarding procedures and important instructions. VU2SVS and VU2KWI went up the hill into the forested area, to hide the Fox Transmitter in the meanwhile.
The Fox Transmitter and token were hidden under some dried leaves and stones. When a participant would find the Fox, he was to quietly pickup a printed note next to it and bring back the note to the Base.
The Fox would transmit "F O X" in Morse Code and also provide a Voice ID saying "This is the Fox! This is the Fox! You can't catch me......This is the Fox!" The ID message would transmit every 60 seconds.
Participants started receiving the Fox Message and were rearing to go.A whistle was blown and all participants ran off into the wooded area, where they thought the Fox was kept. We had about 23 people participating in the event. Even those whom I never expected to "rough it out" were enjoying the wild outdoors. Although many had come "just for fun", they were all seen seriously hunting the Fox with utmost sincerity.
VU2PLE managed the Base Station at the Farm House, while VU2NOW, VU2SVS, VU2KWI and Dr. Leon patrolled the route the Fox Hunters has taken.
"So close....yet so far" was the feeling that many hunters were getting. Everyone tried their own tricks and methods to track the fox.
Some hunters were going round in circles, while some were patiently implementing their strategy. The reflection of the signals was causing chaos, much to the enjoyment of VU2SVS. His smug grin is visible in some photographs.
As they got closer to the fox, the tracking became tougher. Frustration was slowly setting in by the taunting of the ID Message "You can't catch me......This is the Fox!" VU2KWI, VU2SVS, Dr. Leon and VU2NOW were watching the fun at close quarters and providing entertaining answers to participants who wanted tips on the Fox's exact location.
VU2SGW was exploring high and low and doing his best to sniff it out. VU2CVD preffered to follow a kaccha track and search around it.
VU2SNK's homebrewed antenna was so perfect, that it was giving him a super strong signal even off the fox frequency, much to his dismay. The guys from Nashik were looking like professional hunters with serious expressions. All had spread out and were trying different methods.
VU2EDK, attempted to hunt the Fox through the strength of the audio tone, since his handy did not have an S Meter. His Homebrewed antenna was worth discussing about. He shortly returned to the Base, to entertain PLE with his jokes and humour and share tips on his innovative gadgets.
VU2DED and VU2SPM get into sniffing distance of the Fox, brush past it a couple of times, but fail to physically identify it.
VU2DED is sure that he is very close to it and VU2SPM is amused that it is untraceable. VU2UPX gets the whiff of reflected signals and tries the opposite direction. He looked quite irritated with the constant nagging by the fox ("You can't catch me......This is the Fox!") Seeing DED's enthusiasm and confidence, other hunters close in on that region. VU2VPQ (could be mistaken for Indiana Jones) was hammering the underbrush with a long stick. It was hard to tell if he was angry or excited. He could have easily won the award for Best Dressed Hunter.....
VU3NXP and her son VU3NXY were also getting strong signals in that region. VU2KWM slowly approached from another direction.
VU3NXY sits down on some stones, barely at arms length from the Fox transmitter. He looks around at the dried leaves to find the fox, but does not spot it. In the background, others are sure that it is in the vicinity but are unable to pinpoint it.
VU2SNK is just a push short of giving up the hunt. He felt that someone else may have already found it. Suddenly, VU2KWM spots something unusual in the corner of the stone wall on which VU3NXY is sitting. He realizes that it is the fox. He slowly clears the leaves and notices the token sticking out....
He has found it.......Trying not to raise an alarm, he shields his actions from VU3NXY who is looking in the same direction. KWM, slowly slides the token into his pocket (dropping it 3 times in his excitement), but manages to stuff it in finally. He quietly rushes off to the base through another route, as if nothing has happened.
In the meanwhile, the others are pestering VU2SVS to provide a hint on the direction of the fox. Just as SVS is being convinced, VU3NXP notices the rubber ducky sticking out from the leaves. She and VU3NXY jump onto it in delight.
However, their faces dropped when they realized that the first prize token was missing. They search around, but cannot find it. In the next couple of minutes, KWM reaches the base and hands over the token to VU2PLE.
VU2PLE conveys to the others that the Fox has been found.
All come back to the Base Station, discussing (and cussing) at how close they were to the fox.
VU3FET gives a call on mobile to VU2CVD, saying that he is disoriented and unable to find his way back to the Base Station. VU2KWM, VU2KWI and Leon try to locate him.
He was not very far from the farm house, as he was able to hear the whistle calls from the search team. He was found quickly, but then he realized that his attenuator and cable was missing. He retraced his path through the jungle and quickly located his attenuator. All were relieved and safely back at base. Some were exhausted and some were excited (obviously - the winners).
VU2DED presented the First Prize to VU2KWM and Second Prize jointly to the Mother and Son team of
VU3NXP and VU3NXY. KWM won a vacation to an Exotic International Location, while NXP/NXY won a vacation to an Exotic Indian Location.
Dr. Leon was thanked by VU2SVS for his efforts and support. Packing up of equipment commenced. Everyone assembled for a "Deluxe Meal" at Vitthal Kamat's Restaurant.
The day ended with a Gulab Jamun for each participant.
Courtesy :VU2KWI, OM Ruzbeh (photos also) & for photos VU2UPX, OM Charu