There was a sunny forecast for the beginning of the day - but not so good afterwards. With a flu jab booked in town for 0820 I was cycling straight into the sun and hoping that the sun (and my arm) would last long enough for a relaxed activation of a nearby wooded hillfort - Aconbury G/WB-024. We (with M0JLA who was going for a walk) got through Hereford when the traffic had died down a bit and parked at Kings Thorn Village Hall.
I was soon up in sunshine onto this delightful hillfort - with a very confusing path network but going up is always fairly easy (just keep going up!!) so the trig pt was soon spotted in a lovely grassy glade. The bracken had almost disappeared and I was told that the Duchy (of Cornwall) had brought in a team of 2 black shire horses with a spiked roller in August which had crushed the bracken - and thus improve the bluebell display the next year. Instead of staying by the trig point (the sensible choice the high trees might affect my 5w VHF/UHF signal) I went to my usual slightly perilous position at the top of a wooded rampart, also decorated with bracken, with an almost clear view over to Hereford City and the far distance (but the trees beolw are growing taller so I think I shall soon have to find another perch). I eventually got the dipole up and was perched carefully on my 3 legged camping stool (as my first try threatened to send me down the slope as one of the legs ‘dug in’!) I was thus invisible to the local dog walkers but very audible later on (when I was desparately trying to get the 4th 70cm contact…) I was thus writing up my log and talking to M5RJC Rick down in Hereford when a pointed nose and beady eye touched my knee. Somewhat startled, I found I now had 2 sharp noses on my lap - one each side of my hands. After my somewhat brief exclamation the 2 whippet like dogs turned tail rapidly and rushed back down the path and round the corner - and I was left emptyhanded as the VX7 and coax had gone with them. My cries of ‘STOP STOP’ and ‘the dogs have taken my radio’ would have been heard by the dog owner through the trees who was trying to disown them and walk away - but not by Rick as I realised i was no longer transmitting (and even my stentorian bellows couldn’t reach his house!)
I shot down the little ridge and round the corner to find my VX7 dangling from the coax just above the path (fortunately the well-guyed dipole stood firm) and scoooped it up while yelling to the dog owner who did venture an ‘are you injured?’ which I replied with a ‘NO but my radio might be’. I then picked it up and tried successfully to contact M5RJC - who had been wondering why I had suddenly gone quiet… Panic over, but after about 1335 activations this was a ‘first’ and hopefully a last…!
The rest is a bit of an anti-climax but I managed 10 contacts on 2m with chasers including the Forest of Dean, Cheltenham, Dudley, Halesowen, Sebastapol, Portishead and, rather improbably, M7SDO James in Dorrington on the A49 just south of Shrewsbury so my signal (when I had the radio) was ‘getting out’ but my 5w on 433.475 was not winning the battle with the trees and the interference. I could hear Cheltenham, Portishead and Sebastapol but none of them could hear me well enough give me a contact. However the last 2 chasers went off to have a chat on 433.425 so my efforts to improve the use of 70cm were not entirely unrewarded! After a further walk through the autumn colours, which were delightful in the sunshine (still!!,) and back home where I found a message from James who was apoolgising for not giving me the vital 4th UHF I was seeking but there was a knock on the door as he was about to respond and he had no chance to get back to me… Thus turns the wheel of fortune. My previous activation a few days earlier on G/WB-016 and 017 (Wapley hillfort and Shobdon hill) had not been entirely without incident in that I had carefully left the dipole in the porch, The spare poles had been chucked out of the car as we’d been on a trip to Suffolk (not world-renowned for clusters of SOTA summits) BUT the spare RH770 telescopic aerial was still tucked beside the safety triangle (better than the one I carry all the time which is lacking the end 2 segments … but still works). I had the best contacts I’ve ever had from Shobdon Hill (which used to impossible on 2m until they cut some trees down but the replacements are now getting higher.) on both 2m and 70cm so the wheel was spinning the right way on that day!
I now await a welter of stories from others of dog-napping of various bits of radio kit incuding a ‘log’ or two??
73 Viki M6BWA
OK he didn’t quite eat it.
I’d spotted the three amigos looking like they were out to cause trouble and set up away from them and put everything I could in my backpack so there was nothing loose lying around. I had set up my pole with 3 guys and was using an inverted v dipole.
First he came over and tried picking up my backpack and walking off with it. He appreciated a nose rub and ear scratch but he wanted more and started trying to chew on the toes of my hiking boots.
He then went over and started pulling on one side of the antenna with his lips but I shooed him off.
Just as Manuel @EA2DT called I noticed he’d got interested in the guy ropes and had one of them between his teeth and was pulling at it. I got up to shoo him away again but it was too late - the pulling caused the pole to de-telescope which startled the horse who ran off pulling one of the guys out the ground.
One side of the antenna snagged on his mane and as he ran off it broke the wire at the feed point, which was too close to the end to make a temporary repair.
Fortunately I had an EFHW with me so I was able to set that up, qualify the summit and got out of there before a repeat. Manuel wasn’t there when I got going again and must have wondered what had happened.
On GW/NW-032 (32 must be an unlucky number for me) I was set up in the stone circle and had used three guy rops again for the pole, one was wrapped around a rock and the plastick winder was on the ground attached to the end of the guy.
Just as I was thinking about packing up a large group of walkers arrived, I told them I was just about to pack up so they could come and sit in the circle to shelter which they did with their dog.
I started taking everything down and packing everything away and one of the walkers kept looking at me funny but didn’t know why. I wound the final guy up and noticed that I had damaged the corner of the winder but no big deal.
It was only when I got home I noticed that the damage on the guy winder was a bit strange, it was cracked but was rough like it had been chewed. Then it clicked - the hiker looking at me funny was the one with the dog and the dog had found the winder and used it as a chew toy
You can make a reasonable soup out of a Kea I hear. Pluck and gut the bird. Place in a pot if water and bring to the boil. While heating add salt, a sliced onion and a small potatoes. Throw in a piece of pork and a cut up celery stick. Remove from fire after 3 minutes boiling. Discard the Kea. Enjoy the soup.
Had to abandon my operating position on Win Green G/SC-008 recently when the herd of cows decided they wanted to be there. I managed to get the 817 and kit out of the way, but wasn’t able to gather and remove the GP antenna in time. The cows had a good taste of the SOTAbeams mil-spec green wire and trampled all over it. Fortunately, and luckily, the antenna came through unscathed once the cows had moved on again!
I’ve had one incident on The Cloud G/SP-015 where a dog, off-lead, bolted through my station, ripping the coax out of the connector. That was annoying, but could have been worse I guess. I’ve had one incident on Gun G/SP-013 where a dog on one of those mega long extensible training leads bolted, wrapped the lead around my mast and brought the whole thing crashing down, causing most of the elements to be bent. To compound matters, its officious owner was angry with me for being there!
Thankfully this is just three out of nearly 4000 activations!
Good story…I have no story like your radio kit dog-napping however, I understand your dilemma. I am quite familiar with the area you were transmitting from. Lived in Hereford on occasion. Been over that hill many times in the past. Participated in lot of aviation activities at Shobdon airfield years ago. Watch out for curious dogs ! Lol
73, Cheers, Richard N6PKT/ M0BWX
I must admit that is one of the odder SOTA QSO’s I’ve had recently
I think our nearest equivalent was being chased around Caeliber Isaf GW/MW-031 by a bunch of frankly menacing cattle earlier this year on the Welsh SOTA event. Must admit that’s not one we’ll go back to any time soon …
Maybe drifting off topic.
We were a bit shocked to come face to face with a wild boar whilst descending GW/SW-005 Fan Fawr yesterday. I think the boar was as shocked as us, as it started grunting and striking a leg when it noticed us. Fortunately it returned to grazing when we backed off and gave it a wide berth.