Fox Hunts

Lots of fun while improving our direction finding skills


The Fox Hunt is an informal hunt held on irregular intervals  for the enjoyment of the participants, and to train amateur radio operators to learn, refine, and use direction finding skills. These hunts are a fun activity, and everyone is invited to participate. However, they are preparation for serious business. Direction finding skills would be necessary for the following situations:

  • Locating a downed aircraft. When aircraft go down in rough terrain, they may not be visible during an air search. They can, however be be located using direction finding techniques tracking their emergency beacons. These beacons are on 121.500 MHz for civilian and 243.000 MHz for military aircraft.

  • Locating either a technological or human signal source which is interfering with a radio system. Whether it is a spurious signal from an electronic device or purposeful jamming, if it is interfering with an amateur radio, public safety, or commercial radio system finding the source is important.

  • Locating lost or injured persons. This would include hikers, hams during emergencies, public service employees and others that may have a transmitter.

The purpose of the  Fox Hunt is to promote:

  • The advancement of direction finding skills that can be used in the real world, especially in emergencies. One of the underlying goals of the hunt is to have a number of us who are able to help find a fellow amateur radio operator who has been injured in a disaster.

  • The exploration of different types of radio and direction finding equipment. Whether it is good intuition and S-Meter readings, beams, attenuators or sophisticated Doppler units, all levels of technology are welcome. Since many real fox hunts occur at the spur of the moment, in bad conditions, when you don’t have your DFing equipment with you, conducting the hunt with the minimum of equipment is encouraged to practice the art in the worst of circumstances.

  • Amateur radio fellowship, organizational and teamwork skills. If you are involved in a real life fox hunt, you will quickly find that it is a cooperative effort between you and other operators.

  • Learning to get around in the local area . This knowledge will benefit those amateur radio operators who work during emergency operations. Not to mention, it will help you navigate around traffic jams, and make your daily travels more efficient.


Rules of the Fox Hunt

Rules for the “Fox”

  • Your location must be a SAFE place, publicly accessible, and within Calloway County . If you are on private property, you must notify the hounds, and secure permission from the property owner for you and the hounds to be at that location.

  • The fox may, at their discretion, conduct the hunt by making voice transmissions, or by using an automated transmitter. All automated transmitters must have the ability to identify per FCC rules.

  • Don’t stop transmitting after the first person finds you. Remember that other hounds still need the benefit of your signal.

  • The fox may only use a cross-band radio to transmit, if that cross-banding radio and antenna is within their direct line of visible sight. The spirit of this rule is that you may hide behind a tree a couple hundred feet from that radio, but you may not cross-band across town through your home station.

  • If for some reason, you have to move your location (safety consideration, or very unusual circumstance), stop the hunt, notify the hounds of the situation, and ask for a few minutes to re-conceal yourself. In the spirit of fairness, hounds should stop hunting during this period.

  • You may, at your discretion, give hints to the hounds to help them if the hunt is too challenging. Remember, there are hounds with all levels of skill in each hunt. If most of the hounds are already at your location, and a few hounds are still looking for you, communicate with them, and see if they need a little boost.

  • The fox may use riddles in their hints, but may not be dishonest. This may sound like a vague rule, but common sense should be the measure of its spirit. For example, if you do give hints, you can say “I am next to a fence that is the color of an apple.” If you do however, you better not be parked next to a blue fence because apples are not blue. Free creative license is permitted, but make sure that someone who uses their normal intellectual powers can, with thought, figure out the riddle.

  • Remember that as the fox, you have an opportunity to help strengthen the direction finding skills of the hounds. Present them with a challenge, but do so in the spirit of hunt listed above.

Rules for the “Hounds”

  • Remember to observe and respect all rules. Obey amateur radio regulations, traffic laws, private property laws, and the spirit of the rules of the fox hunt. Also follow the spirit of good sportsmanship. This, above all builds fellowship.

  • After you arrive at the fox’s location, please simply ID and get off the radio. You are not allowed to reveal any information or clues about the location to the other hounds.

  • Work as a team with other hounds. Remember that in a real fox hunt will be conducted as group activation. Practice these skills. Take a partner, communicate with other hounds, and practice different techniques whether technical, or intellectual. But don’t forget to enjoy the hunt. If you take it too serious, you won’t have as much fun.

  • While not a rule, you are encouraged to invite others, especially your significant other to come join you in the hunt. While we don’t do it after every, after most hunts, we all converge on some poor unsuspecting restaurant for a chance to spend time with each other.

Some useful resources:

The ARRL Handbook
The ARRL Antenna Book
QST Magazine

The ARRL has an extensive catalog of books and materials related to amateur radio.