Seven years. It had been seven years since the last fox hunt.
I used to fox hunt every month. We have a unique local fox hunt, known (possibly) more commonly as ARDF, that only 4-5 people at most usually participate in. Unlike the more common foot hunt on 80 meters, it is a vehicular hunt, where one person hides within the constraints of Lawrence county, Indiana's public access properties, transmits something like one minute on or off with either a Byonics PicCon remote controlled transceiver, or with their own radio and voice. The person with the lowest mileage upon arrival of all hunters wins the event and hides the next month.
I think I attended the local Field Day festivities in 2008.
Honestly, local club politics kept me out of things. I felt like it was interfering with my life. Perhaps even the good old Amateur code, from way back in 1928...
"BALANCED: Radio is an avocation, never interfering with duties owed to family, job, school or community."
I had more to give to other groups and people in my life.
I had seen ugly things at the Hoosier Hills Ham Club. Every month, it was not a meeting of friendly amateur radio operators for the sake of fun, although most of the guys were plenty friendly, and amateur radio . It was mostly a meeting to see how we keep our precious club site funded, and planning a hamfest each year to do so, that (at the time) had a massive ticket price that all other hams attending complained about. (Naturally, when they began to rent less of the grounds for a much lower ticket price, a huge number of hams quit coming, despite hateful complaints I received about the ticket prices the one year I was the hamfest chairman. Fickle jerks, they were, but that's another rant for another time.)
In 2006 or so I was the VP of the club. Toward the end of that year, some folks who had been in a spat with other members wished to rejoin. I supported this, as let bygones be bygones was my thinking. IT'S A FREAKING HOBBY. IT DID NOT MATTER THAT MUCH. Others in the group, were adamant to see this prevented. It was sad, really.
Naturally, there weren't enough votes to meet some obscure bylaw rule and one of these folks did not get into the club. THEN, the president, after announcing this, resigned the presidency, leaving me to fill in for it until the end of that year. I don't even think I attended the last couple meetings as president, but I can't recall. I WAS OVER THAT MESS.
Mind you, most all of these guys are good guys. There are a few rotten eggs here and there, I suppose, but I still enjoy talking to each of them as I see them, granted they remember me. That, though, is the essence of what that particular group was about...control of facilities and the grounds. Control of three repeaters that (as of 2014, at least) seem to be nearly completely unused. Skywarn is dead in the area. ARES/RACES is in the same boat. Want a QSO with a random ham? I've thrown my call out on the main repeater several times a day for weeks and only managed two QSOs, I've found more action on 2m and 70cm simplex lately! Nobody's listening anymore.
I can't help but wonder if the drama didn't finally drive everyone away. The few calls I've heard check into the net are all KC or KD calls, much newer hams here in 9 land, most of whom were licensed in the time I've been away from the hobby.
So, curiously, after so many years, two more children, and time taken to build my IT career in the exact same window; I found myself pulling radios out again. I knew none of my old crowd or close (at that time) friends would be found on the air; one had a radio but was not interested (mostly interested that the radio was really CHEAP so he purchased it), another pair sold their gear for the most part (or so it appeared on Facebook and such), and another wishes to get in again but does not have/can't afford a radio right now.
I knew my approach was to be different. Time to de-clique my VHF/UHF operating habits and talk to anyone who appeared on any frequency, just for the sake of introduction and contacts. Pace things. Don't get buried in running an organization when I really was just out to enjoy a little side hobby, in my spare time. Don't schedule anything hard involving amateur radio, aside from perhaps trying to make that fox hunt once a month, but then only when it does not conflict with church or children's activities/involvement.
I've gotten one other friend interested in the hobby who is studying for tech. I've met a young gentleman on the campus of IU, another in northern Brown county, and I've tried to become known to the ragchew group on the W9WIN system some morning and evening drive times when I can. I've caught a guy in KY who was shooting 160 watts on 2m FM into a repeater on this system, with 300 miles between us. Things like that are fun.
So, as I embark on what is essentially the third rebirth of amateur station KB9SNL (the initial, in 1998, a re-interest after college 2003-2007, and now this round), I expect it will look a lot different. It will look more like the lone ham operator, making contacts, and filling log books. Occasionally experimenting with antennas. Brushing up on the code and making CW contacts on all bands.
I like how it looks this time. No more dumb politics or silly "clubs".
73 DE KB9SNL
The Amateur's Code
by Paul M. Sega, W9EEA (1928)
The Radio Amateur is:
CONSIDERATE: never knowingly operating in such a way as to lessen the pleasure of others.
LOYAL: offering loyalty, encouragement and support to other amateurs, local clubs and the American Radio Relay League, through which Amateur Radio in the United States is represented nationally and internationally.
PROGRESSIVE: with knowledge abreast of science, a well built and efficient station, and operation beyond reproach.
FRIENDLY: with slow and patient operation when requested, friendly advice and counsel to the beginner, kindly assistance, co-operation and consideration for the interests of others. These are the hallmarks of the amateur spirit.
BALANCED: Radio is an avocation, never interfering with duties owed to family, job, school or community.
PATRIOTIC: with station and skill always ready for service to country and community