Yes, there are still folks who do it. If you notice the thread just below
this one about the National ARDF Championships (from last year), that
included competitions on both 80m and 2m, as does the upcoming
championships in Texas in May. You can find more information about
these events and 80m hunting at www.HomingIn.com
. 80m is used
in the international competitions as well.
But generally, 80m isn't used nearly as much for vehicle hunting as
it used to, for a number of reasons. First, virtually all hams have 2m
equipment, and the transmitter operator can have just a technician
license. This probably has been one of the biggest reasons for the
shift to VHF/UHF over the years, as well as the availability of hand-held
receivers that can be used. (Even a Ten-Tec Argonaut from the late
1970's was still far larger than a 2m mobile of the same vintage.) I got
started hunting on 75m SSB, but as most clubs shifted their nets from
75m to 2m repeaters, it made sense for the transmitter hunts to shift
frequencies as well.
Distances? The longest (airline distance) transmitter hunt that I know
of was around 400 miles, and it was on 2m. With a bit of elevation it
isn't hard to hear a 2m signal further than ground wave can propagate
a 80m signal of the same power level. While 80m NVIS propagation
can cover longer distances, that is VERY DIFFICULT for most hams to DF.
On the other hand, 80m is very convenient for hunting on foot where
the maximum distance to the transmitter is a few miles. A QRP CW
transmitter is easy to build with perhaps 1 to 5 watts output to a vertical
wire and gives plenty of signal - cheaper than building a 2m transmitter.
An 80m hand-held DF receiver isn't difficult to build, especially
using direct conversion (though a superhet isn't that much more
difficult and gives much better performance.) But even for a mobile
hunt, it isn't that hard to build a loop antenna for a HF receiver. I've
done it before to track down some interference. It is just a matter of
getting enough people willing to try it.
Traditionally, hunts held during the day used 80m vs. 10m for night hunts.
We don't see many 10m hunts, either, but that might be something to
try as well.