County hunting
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County Hunting. Larry Benko, W0QE Dec. 2007. County Hunting. Where county hunting fits into ham radio Operating awards Award history / USA-CA County hunting basics Getting started Importance of the mobiles What to expect References. Where county hunting fits into ham radio.

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County Hunting

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County hunting

County Hunting

Larry Benko, W0QE

Dec. 2007

County hunting1

County Hunting

  • Where county hunting fits into ham radio

  • Operating awards

  • Award history / USA-CA

  • County hunting basics

  • Getting started

  • Importance of the mobiles

  • What to expect

  • References

Where county hunting fits into ham radio

Where county hunting fitsinto ham radio

  • DX, rag chew, contest, nets, emergency service

  • HF, VHF, UHF, microwave, LF ,VLF

  • CW, SSB, AM, FM, RTTY, digital

  • Experiment, build equipment & antennas

  • Fixed, portable, mobile ops

  • Operating awards

Operating awards

Operating Awards

  • County hunting is primarily an operating award

  • ARRL Awards: WAS, DXCC, WAC, 5-Band WAS & DXCC, VUCC

  • CQ Magazine awards: WAZ, USA-CA, WPX

  • Clubs offer county awards

  • MARAC (Mobile Amateur Radio Awards Club) has many county awards

Award history

Award history

  • ARRL (QST) and CQ Magazine both have operating awards

  • The USA-CA Award began in 1962 and the current custodian is Ted, K1BV

  • The first to complete USA-CA was K9EAB in Aug. 1965

  • As of Dec. 1, 2007, USA-CA has been earned by 1164 people

Usa ca


  • USA-CA award is the starting place

  • USA-CA award can be applied for in increments of 500 counties with band, mode, mobile and other endorsements

  • Counties must be confirmed either by QSL card or MRC (mobile reply card)

  • Many MARAC awards can be worked for at the same time

County hunting basics

County Hunting Basics

  • Tracking 3077 counties requires careful record keeping

  • Computer logging, paper notebooks, spreadsheets have all been used

  • Specialized logging programs KwikWin and Logger (must be MARAC member)

  • ALL your contacts count with no time or geographical constraints for USA-CA

  • Confirmations must be unambiguous

Getting started

Getting Started

  • Determine your tracking method

  • Process all your existing QSL cards (everything counts)

  • There are CW nets on 3+ bands, SSB nets on 2+ bands, and PSK31 nets

  • Listen to the nets and understand the protocol

Getting started cont

Getting Started (cont.)

  • Begin working counties on the county hunting nets, state QSO parties, contests, general contacts, any other nets, etc.

  • Use the spots and consider operating on multiple bands and modes

  • Go mobile with a regular county hunter

Importance of the mobiles

Importance of the mobiles

  • 3077 counties and only ~800 are on interstate highways

  • Not all counties have active hams on HF

  • HF mobile is a lot of fun

  • HF mobile on multiple bands and modes can be very challenging

  • Those who help others get helped more quickly

What to expect

What to expect

  • Time to work all 3077 counties can vary from under 1 year to forever

  • Using multiple bands, state QSO parties, and being quite active ~2-4 years

  • Use MRCs, MRC/QSL bureau, SASEs if direct, & QSL with first MRC

  • Remember to do what it takes to have fun



  • CQ

  • MARAC (Mobile Amateur Radio Awards Club): award rules, general reference, database, nets, spots

  • K3IMC: forum, planned trips, needs lists, award holders

  • KK7X: forums, links to chat rooms, MRC bureau and spots

References cont

References (cont.)

  • W5UGD and W6RK: IRC chat rooms, IRC spots, web spots, cluster spots, cell phone text alerts (both networks share spots)

  • N4UJK: “Coloring Book” and MRC’s

  • PDF wall map: Can zoom and print

  • PDF state maps:



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