East Sussex Radio Foxhunt Group

Firstly, it should be pointed out that radio foxhunting, despite its name, does not contain any foxes or dogs - the name is purely taken as a similarity as the team being found are known as 'foxes' and the teams tracking are known as 'hounds'. The following provides some basic general information about what is needed and what to expect on a hunt.

The Foxes

Foxhunting involves several groups of radio 'hams' participating in a tracking exercise. One of the groups (typically the winners of the previous hunt) is designated as the foxes, and their role is to hide themselves within a six mile radius of a given location (such as a town/village, or local landmark - somewhere that is distinguishable on a map), which is circulated to all participants in advance of the day.

The foxes will often need to do a preparation session before the hunt day to find suitable locations to hide. The criteria for locations is that they are publicly accessible via roads or footpaths and bridalways. This means that we avoid the possibility of trespass and that all foxes are able to be found with some tracking skills.

Once the day has arrived, the foxhunt will start at a previously specified time. This is kicked off by each fox in the team transmitting for around one minute continuously, each following on from each other, at five minute intervals. This allows the hounds to start tracking, as described below. The fox hunt continues for a two hour period from its start time, although hopefully each fox will have been found by each time by the end of this time period. During the transmission period, the foxes are not allowed to move location, although can vary their power and transmission media to try and confuse the hounds! Foxes can be found in various unexpected locations, such as in large prickly bushes, up trees and even in rivers!

As a fox, the only equipment that is needed is a transmitter, to which most people will generally use a small handheld which has the ability to transmit on the hunt transmission frequency, and a watch to ensure the timing is kept correct. Foxes have often been known to vary this to include aerials with a greater range and transmitters with a higher power output. Other recommended items are something comfortable to sit on, clothing to keep warm and dry, and food and drink to keep the foxes refreshed.

The Hounds

The hounds, previously informed of the given location, position themselves within the six mile radius ready for the start time. Using directional aerials, the hounds work out the location of the foxes, first by taking bearings against a map, and then tracking via radio signal strength and sight once in the rough vicinity of where in foxes are hiding.

Generally, the hounds will use the designated transmission frequency to listen on whilst homing in on, however when getting closer, harmonics (which are multiples of the original frequency) will often be used as they can be picked up on when the fox is close by.

Whilst the role of the fox can be performed only by licensed radio amateurs due to the need to be able to transmit on the restricted bands, the role of a hound can be completed by anyone with suitable equipment as this does not involve transmitting on the band.

The basic equipment for the hounds comprises of a vehicle (pretty important for traveling the distances covered on the hunt!), a receiver for the hunt frequency (which it is often recommended should cover one of the multiple harmonics to help to locate the fox) and a directional aerial. Strong boots and warm, weatherproof clothing should also be worn due to the varying weather and physical conditions that can to found during the course of the hunt. Hounds have also developed other methods to try and track foxes, some more effective than others so you may see some weird varieties over the course of the hunt.

Current UK Foxhunts HERE

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