Spring 2007 Issue

Homing In

Furry Hams and a New Rescue Beacon

By Joe Moell, KØOV


 

Here’s Randy Fox, K9YAP, as his alter ego, Yappy Fox, ready to hide the transmitter.
(Photo by Randy, K9YAP)

Can someone tell me how ham radio hidden-transmitter hunting got to be called “foxhunting”? It’s hard to imagine why hams gave the name of an inhumane pastime of the 18th and 19th century to an exciting and educational radiosport. Perhaps it’s because we sometimes look just as silly as foxhounds when we scurry about trying to find hidden radio transmitters.

I prefer other names for competitions of radio direction finding (RDF), such as “T-hunting” for mobile events and “radio-orienteering” for hunts in the woods. However, this time I have the story of a radio foxhunt where the quarry was indeed a fox. In researching it, I was initiated into the world of anthropomorphics.

My old dictionary defines anthropomorphism as “the attributing of human shape or characteristics to objects and animals.” A simple example would be a person who dresses up as the animal mascot of a sports team and performs for the fans, acting much more like a human than an animal.

Thousands of people on our continent have taken this to the next level. Calling themselves “furry fans,” they make and wear their own animal costumes and develop distinct personalities that go with each one. Some of them are hams in more ways than one.

Hunting Florida’s Red Fox

Amateur radio Newsline editor Bill Pasternak, WA6ITF, and furry fan Julie Fraedrich, KD8AYJ, tipped me off about a YouTube video1 that shows a transmitter hunt at Anthrocon, an annual convention of furries in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The hunt was organized by K9YAP of Kissimmee, Florida, whose name happens to be Randy Fox. (Really! Look it up.)

By day, Randy repairs audio/video equipment for Disney in Orlando, but at other times his colorful furry suit and his fox persona come out to play. “It started as a job,” he told me. “I hired on as Chuck E. Cheese part time when I was in college and I loved doing it. I did that for eight years part-ime, and then I decided that I wanted to do it for myself. Now I run an Internet puppet show and I do mascot gigs at conventions.”

Randy continued, “In costume, I’m a very outgoing person, whereas out of costume I’m kind of shy and reclusive. When I started at the pizza place, it got me doing nutty things that I wouldn’t have done outside the costume.”
Randy and friends volunteer regularly for Give Kids the World,2 a non-profit resort that provides lodging and visits to the attractions of the Orlando area for children with serious illnesses. “There is a village of duplexes where the kids stay,” Randy explained. “We don our fur suits and go out there on a week night to entertain them.”

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