Mention county lines to a bunch of county hunters and expect a wide range of reactions. Transmitting from a county line allows the mobile to give out two counties at the same time. However the practice of "running" county lines creates a number of problems and matters of policy that must be addressed. Even for those who do not "run" county lines they can present a series of problems just because it is not always easy to be sure what county you are in and in many cases the county line markers can be misleading. Those county line signs dotting the road are there to inform the public when they are entering a new county. They are not meant to be precise markers of the county line. The Virginia Department of Transportation has a policy of putting the signs within fifty feet of the county line. This flexibility is allowed as it is not always possible to put up a sign right on the county line. See the links at the end of this page for a few example of problem signs.
The USA-CA award sponsored by CQ magazine makes no mention of county lines in the rules.
The major county hunting organization MARAC (Mobile Amateur Radio Awards Club) also issues many county hunting awards. In 2000 they issued the following rules for county lines:
A county-line is that legally defined boundary separating two geographic and/or administrative regions. The best evidence of the location of a county-line is the marker permanently placed beside a highway. The marker will be assumed to be correctly placed for county-hunting purposes, except for those at wet lines.
Other devices may be found on secondary roadways, such as, a cattle gate, or a monument placed in the fence line. Frequently, too, changes in the composition of the roadway surface are a indication of county boundaries. For county hunting purposes, when no other means of identifying a county line is available, these markers may be used.
With the degradation of GPS having been turned off on 1 May 2000, GPS may be useful as an aid in locating county-lines. While the accuracy of GPS is now a nominal +/- 20 meters, it may be relied upon only when other markers and evidence are not apparent.
A county-line may be run with credit being given for both counties. A part of the vehicle must be in each of the counties. Thus, a county-line may not be credited if the mobile is in motion.
A county-line may be wet, that is, a watercourse (river, lake, water reservoir, creek, brook, stream) may cover the legally described boundary.
A wet line may be run for county-hunting credit as long as the County Line can be located as described above and can be run SAFELY.
Three and four county lines may not be run simultaneously for county-hunting credit.
The Mobiles job in this is to know where he/she is whenever giving out a county. That applies as much when in a single county as when running a county line. That is not always an easy task. It is very easy to get lost on the back roads in the US. County line markers do not always exist and sometimes are misleading. If you have internet access there are a multitude of maps sites to choose from to help in planning a trip. But once on the road you are at the mercy of the preparation you make, and the maps and signs you have available.
Large scale maps do not show the intricacies of many county lines and the signs on the roads do not always help. In many cases the road itself is the county line, yet you will find only one set sign placed somewhere along that road indicating that you have entered a new county. This can be complicated by road construction. Whereas the road used to be the county line, now the roadbed has been moved and signs never changed. This is most obvious when a single two lane road has been upgraded to a four lane divide highway by adding a new roadbed next to the old one. While the old one runs down the county line, the best maps simply show the entire road as being the county line and the signs don't tell you that the road is the county line. For a few examples of the problems that can face the mobile peruse the links below.
Interesting County Lines