If you’re pursuing one of the DX awards such as the DXCC or WAZ award then eventually you’re going to have established contact with most (if not all) of the common locations and be left with a few rare locations that you need to hunt down. At this point it becomes a lot tougher, and it could take weeks or months to get a single verified contact. Some of the extremely rare locations have even been known to take years or even decades.
Although that may sound rather daunting, there are a few techniques that many people in the DX community use that could help you hunt down rare DX locations – or at very least improve your chances somewhat:
Find out why the location is hard to contact
Different locations are difficult to contact for different reasons. It may be due to the political climate (i.e. North Korea), geographic distance, or it may be due to the lack of population. Whatever the case, identifying why an area is hard to contact will allow you to evaluate your chances of doing so as well as determine what method would help you to hunt it down.
Keep track of DX peditions
Many DXpeditions are organized specifically to certain rare locations so that people will have an opportunity to make contact. Needless to say, you don’t want to let an opportunity like that pass you by and so you need to keep tabs on DXpeditions so that you’re aware if and when one is organized to a location that you require.
Monitor DX cluster spots
With modern day DX cluster clients it is possible to monitor DX clusters on a continuous basis and set an alert so that if a location you require is spotted you’ll be instantly notified. Even if you’re not able to establish contact there and then, you may be able to detect a pattern in when that location is spotted and anticipate it in the future.
Filter and browse historical cluster spots
To find out whether or not anyone has spotted a certain location that you require recently you could filter and browse the history of DX clusters. Once again this is so that you can hopefully find a pattern in when the location you require is being spotted, and then attempt to anticipate and establish contact the next time round.
Depending on exactly why the location you require is considered ‘rare’, the effectiveness of these techniques will vary. For most of the moderately rare locations they should more than suffice to help you establish contact, but for some other extremely rare locations you may very well end up having to wait years until a DXpedition is organized or something changes.
The key is to not give up. Remember – with most of these ‘lifetime’-style awards, it is a marathon and not a sprint. So long as you don’t give up and keep trying to hunt down the locations that you need, eventually you’ll get there.