OUT FOXING CHARLIE 8
By The Ole Hedge Creeper
Blimey have I been busy or what, or like I normally say, flat out like a lizard drinking, the show season has been rammed full with shows and taster days representing Pass It On Young Sports for which I am the head honcho pointy hat wearer etc.
It has also been flat out busy with my vermin control company too, the agricultural side of the business has been mad crazy this year what with the harvest and all sorts of vermin to deal with from rats to rabbits corvids and pigeons and of course foxes, as I said in out foxing Charlie one I only deal with problem foxes, by this I mean foxes who attack the livestock etc.
This story all started whilst out having a well-deserved apple juice (cider) with a farmer who was buying me a pint for a job well done on some rats on a silage pit, The NiteSite Wolf and my trusty old Air Arms S410 with me behind the butt really did give those scaly tail rodents hell and accounted for around 300 of them in 2 sessions.
I have said it before and I will say it again that is a deadly vermin combo with me behind the gun I telle boys and girls, I use many air rifles for my work such as the Walther RM8 or a Daystate, but not one of them are a match for my trusty ole Air Arms S410 as that old girl and I know each other’s moves and moods, like I say I was being bought a pint or 3 of apple juice for a job well done, this was when the pub door flew open and a another farmer came in all red in the face, upon seeing me a relieved look came over him saying thank god I found you, I have been trying to get hold of you for 2 days leaving messages everywhere for you, why what’s up me ole mucker I am not booked in to be down your place till next week.
This was when his tale of a dastardly fox or foxes started, as it appears the white van man had been dropping off town caught foxes again, the other farmer sat down with round of drinks for us including one for this farmer, ahhhhhhh right I see your problem why did you not call me then, I lost my phone and your number all at the same time when chasing the damn things off, I shot one with my shot gun and counted at least eight foxes out after my free range flock, bloody eyes everywhere he said when I shined my lamp.
Also it seemed one of the main culprits was a big dog fox who came out late afternoon early evening in broad daylight, not a care in the world taking the hens right from under my nose as I collect the eggs in you know, I reassured my farmer mucker I would be down the following afternoon armed with my trusty Browning 243 with some 58 grain Norma lead aspirin’s and the trusty NiteSite Wolf, also can you put me a high seat up, no problem was farmers answer, he made this from his scaffold tower on the end of the big chicken house, this gave me a brilliant view of the three main fields, we will soon have these chicken thieving Charlies cured of their addiction to his best hens.
Farmer cheered up and enjoyed another pint as the other farmer said now you have Rob on board your problem will be resolved, you know that farmer has me stored in his phone as The Resolver, I do laugh about that it always makes me chuckle when he refers to me as The Resolver the daft bugger.
I called Chris one of my fellow Woodspring Shooting Club muckers and asked if he would give me a hand, you see there was a small wooded paddock that I knew the foxes were using to come through or retreat through, it was also no good for the rifle as there were roads etc not to far away, so I wanted Chris to cover that in case the foxes tried to come in or out on this blind spot.
We got to the farm around 6pm and Chris got into position with the shot gun some 36grms of no3 shot and a lamp, I got into the high seat with my trusty Browning 243 and NiteSite Wolf Combo, and then we let the world settle around us.
The world went about its business as we sat and watched from our hiding places, I noticed a vixen come in from the road hedge, as I studied her every move she showed no aggression to the flock in fact quite the opposite she stayed as far as she could away from them and went about moussing, she left the way she came in with a mouth full of field mice staying as far away from the flock as she could.
Then I saw the big dog fox come in and go into hunting mode head down locked on to a lone hen like a laser guided missile, I was just lining up the cross hair to administer a lead aspirin, a loud voice came from underneath me have you got him yet, it was the farmer’s son cigarette in his mouth whilst on his phone, the fox took one look and high tailed it out of there, farmers son saying you should of shot that, I in a growling voice with some choice words saying I was about too until you came round the corner, farmers son walked away laughing I on the other hand was less amused as would his dad be when I told him.
Bugger that’s that big dog fox wised up to my high seat now I thought, also thinking he’s going to be a hard one to get that one now, half an hour later all goes quiet and the night starts to set in as the sun goes down, every now and then I see a flicker of the lamp beam from Chris, I get the NiteSite Spotter going and this was when I saw the first set of eyes, something was not right though as experience told me that was no fox, indeed it was not it was a mink something else I will have to deal with as I had been having reports of mink attacks in the area, but not this night I was kitted out for fox.
I decided to switch on the Ico Tec GC500 caller from best fox call, it has a distressed chicken call or two on it and almost immediately eye shine was spotted some 300 yards out in the big field heading straight at the caller, I put the spotter down and took up a shooting position with the Browning NiteSite Wolf combo, I could see quite clearly it was a fox coming into the caller some 100 yards out in the middle of the big field, then another set of eyes appeared with the first set, I could see as clear as daylight it was a pair of large juvenile’s. Big cubs from this year, farmer had reported some large cubs attacking the flock.
They got to about 20 yards from the caller and sat wondering what this thing was, I steadily took aim right on the engine room and squeezed off the shot, that distinct dull thump telling me the shot made contact with its target, The other big cub took off at high speed to retreat through the paddock as I see the lamp beam go on and one BOOM from the twelve bore as the lamp stayed on and I saw Chris walk out and pic his fox up not 25 yards from his position.
I sat back down re cycled the spent round made the gun safe and took a breath, that’s two foxes in the bag thus far and the night is not finished yet, an hour later I pick up a set of burning orange eyes coming straight at the chicken pens some 400 yards out across the big field, I sat there and just watched as the fox kept coming and coming, as it got closer I could see it was a big old dog fox quite a dark one, the farmer’s daughter had said there was quite a dark one attacking here ducks.
I let him come right in so I could see the whites of his eyes, at about 100 yards he stopped for a pee, that was his mistake as I had already lined up the cross hairs on him on the screen of The Nite Site Wolf, as he took that last pee I squeezed off the round and I let him have a 58grn Norma lead aspirin to the engine room, again that dull thump of the perfectly placed shot told me the bullet had sailed true onto its target.
I called Chris and said that’s enough for one night we had shot 3 out of the five foxes we had seen, indeed I got a message from another shooter the next day from the farm next door he bagged 3 too, so that was 6 problem foxes taken care of, I was pretty sure he didn’t get that big dog fox that out whited me or the vixen that came in from the road as farmer said he saw them the next day and he had lost hens that day too he was sure it was that big dog fox, I arranged to go down a few nights later to mop up what was left of the problem foxes.
Indeed a few night later I did return, I had a couple of jobs to do, one was to deal with corvids and feral pigeons getting in the feed barns, I called my old mate James (Trenchy) Trenchard to come give me a hand, many will know of James as he is a fellow writer here on The Countryman’s Diary who writes under JT, he has just done a cracking rat article called You Dirty Rat take a look its good, also joining us was the farmer’s son armed with my Walther RM8 as was James with his, I climbed up into my high seat to wait for the fox whilst James and the farmer’s son retreated to the feed barns to deal with the other vermin.
I could hear the odd shot the boys were doing well with corvid/feral pigeon and rats, that’s when I saw the vixen come in from the road side of the farm, again she followed the exact same path as the first time I saw her a few days previous, again she stayed as far away from the flock as she could, I really enjoyed watching her hunt the margins of the big field, she disappeared a few moments later I heard a rabbit squeal then I saw her appear from the hedge carrying a rabbit, she retreated the same way as she came staying away as far from the flock as she could, I let her go by about her business un disturbed, I know I can hear you all saying she will turn on the flock as soon as the food gets short and she or her cubs get a taste for chicken, but for me if she leaves the flock alone I leave her alone that my way that’s how my Pappy and uncle Dave taught me and how I teach my young sports.
This was when James came round to let me know how they were getting on, he climbed up the ladder and hid behind some hide netting that was added to the high seat, the boys were doing well with a fare few mixed vermin in the bag, the time was 7.35pm and still daylight as I turned round to come face to face with a fox sat at the end of the big chicken run, I turned slowly with the Browning 243 getting ready to mount the gun whispering to James FOX, this was where he made a rooky mistake he got down the ladder at the same time farmers son came round the corner shouting have you got him yet.
Bloody Nora that’s twice that fox has out whited me and shown me his brush and both times it’s been down to the farmer’s son and his big mouth as well as a rooky mistake from James, although there was plenty of time left for me to sit and wait I was too moody now as twice was one to many times for me, I growled at both of them like a bear with a sore head.
I had a word with my ole mucker the farmer told what had happened and we agreed I would come down and deal with it on my lonesome, farmer would send his son off to work another part of the farm along the road so I would not get any disturbances.
I went back the very next afternoon at 5pm, armed with my trusty browning and 2 bullets, I sat in that high seat added some more hide netting and let the world go peacefully around me, experience and patience is what would bring home the bacon on this job, indeed at 6.40pm the vixen came in stayed away from the flock caught a big rat over by the ditch as I watched her through my binoculars and was gone back by 6.59pm, the cattleman came over fed the cattle none the wiser I was in my lofty Cammo hiding place even his old dog did not notice me.
All was well in the world even the hens scratched around all quiet and content even using my high seat as a perch, 7.15pm the cattle man leaves and in trots the big elusive dog fox, I watch him for about 20 minutes as he hunted round the chicken run trying the margins for any unsuspecting hens, he then doubles back to the far end right where he knows there is a low spot in the electric fence, it was fascinating watching him and learning more of my target species, he ducked under the fence chose a hen head down and was about to go in like a laser guided missile.
But too late, I was on him this time, The Ole Hedge Creeper way as some say I am more cunning than the foxes themselves, I took him with a single perfect chest shot he dropped on the spot, the hens amazed me they surrounded him in a perfect circle as if to say The Ole Hedge Creeper sorted you out after taking around 60 of our sisters, to say famer was pleased was an understatement, well let’s just say I won’t be needing any cider or eggs for a very long time.
The next fox I took was up on my shoot, I had to finish the roe buck cull for this year’s management cull, JT joined me with his air rifle, I had to get on top of some squirrel’s as they were damaging my pheasant feeders at the far end of the big wood, now JT is not the most light footed of fellow at times as he is a portly mucker, my idea was he would have fun letting the tree rats have some lead aspirins at the same time the disturbance he makes will keep the deer from that side of the woods.
This worked perfectly as the deer came trotting past my high seat quite nicely, lots of does with this year’s young, as well as big George my resident big buck, alas not one cull buck yet but I knew they would be about at some point, what he did do was make a Charlie dog fox come right down my ride, this fox was the one I was after he keeps getting into my pheasants and playing havoc with the grey partridges, so when he came straight down my ride I thought right lets have him, then I stopped myself bugger what a choice do I fire and take the fox or wait and not disturb the wood and wait for the cull bucks that I knew were there somewhere.
My dithering cost me the fox as he made me out with a oh bugger look on his face some 30 yards away, he showed me his brush and was off, the light dimmed and JT came back to my high seat and we decided to call it a night, as we got to the car there they were the cull bucks following some does on the other hill side, Murphy’s law aint it but that’s deer stalking for you, I said I would give it a go with the young sports the very next night.
The next day I got called out to shoot with the foragers as farmers were cutting maize, Young Sports David and Jake Joined me, the header clutches broke and well that was that, we made rope swings whilst we waited to see if farmer could fix the header, alas new parts were needed, so a lot of fun was had messing about on the rope swings whilst we waited to go deer stalking.
This was young sport David’s first time deer stalking, Jake had been before so sort of took David under his wing feeling very important here I might add, I told the boys to follow my every step if I stop you stop no talking unless I talk to you, as we stalked around I pointed out were rabbits and squirrels had been and other birds and animals, we came across some deer tracks and I explained it was most likely a mother and her young.
We followed the track around to the bottom of the big wood, this had two great advantages as I could see the hill ground perfectly and the big meadow, I knew this was going to me the place to bag a cull buck if we were going to get one and the wind was also in our favour too, indeed as we stayed into the bushes nice and tight the young sports watched with their binoculars, plenty of roe does with this year’s young came out to feed including big George my resident big buck but alas no cull buck yet again.
The light was starting to go and the young sports were getting bored and twitchy, so I set them a challenge to see if they had taken on board the stalking skills on the rabbits I taught them, I told them to stalk out on their belt buckles and get as close to George and the does as they could, of course I knew the deer would see or smell them before they got too close, actually they got to about 45 yards from the nearest one, I could not help but feel a sense of pride watching these boys do what I had taught them.
As I stood there watching them belly crawl across the meadow I could not help but smile as that’s what my Pappy taught me to do at about their age, this was when my sixth sense went off, almost like spider man with his Spidey sense, I don’t know something caught my attention on the hill ground I could feel it more than see it straight away, I stalked round to a clearing and studied the terrain, there he was that pheasant thieving Charlie about 500 or so yards away coming down the hill on the far side of the valley.
Nothing else for it no time for a bullet change he would hear or see me, so from off the sticks is was hit or miss time, I counted him in judging the wind watching the natural flags 500 then 400 then at around 300 he stopped he heard something, it was now or never, I squeezed the trigger as the 80grn federal soft point left the barrel and I heard that distinct dull thump as the bullet sailed true, I took a breath as the fox dropped stone dead on the spot, the young sports came racing around all out of breath did you get him did get the buck, young sport Jake saying I knew you were after something when I looked round and saw you stalk off in hunting mode. I laughed and said go up on that hill and find out, they took off like a pair of coursing lurchers side by side as fast as their legs could carry them, I could hear their cheers from across the valley as they both held up this big dog fox, I got my range finder out and it was 323 yards not bad for a cross eyed ole country boy eh boys.
Well the rest is history and I think the videos will say the rest better than I can write it, remember reconnaissance/patience and experience is the way forward with foxes, I hope you enjoy reading Out Foxing Charlie 8 as much as I have enjoyed writing it, please keep the letters and emails coming in both Greg and I try to get back to you all but some do slip through the radar, so until Out Foxing Charlie 9 were we have some fab new gear to try out may I wish you all a proper job muckers.
Out Foxing Charlie 8
By The Ole Hedge Creeper
Aka Rob Collins