Out Foxing Charlie 4.
Blimey! I never knew I had this much in my head about foxes and how to hunt them, so here we are in Out Foxing Charlie part 4. What I have tried to do is build up a picture, not only about how and why I am so successful when dealing with problem Charlie’s (foxes). But also the various ways I have of dealing with them whether it is with rifle, shotgun, terrier or other methods. But there is one method I have yet to share with you…
That is the legal trapping and snaring, and the methods I use again are very humane and effective. Now I only use the traps and snares were the other methods, are not able to perform or are an unsafe for the use of a gun i.e. near roads or houses etc. For the snaring I don’t use this method much at all for the fox and only use it in rare cases were needed were other methods are not of use i.e. safety or a difficult location etc. My advice on snaring is to read the BASC, snaring code of practice, before attempting this also get some training from an experienced person or contact one of the organisation for help. I know BASC and the National Game Keepers, run some great courses on these subjects. Don’t just go out and set a line without first reading the code of snaring practice, you can find this on the BASC Website Here: or The National Game Keepers Organisation website,Here: or if you are in Scotland I recommend you speak to The Scottish Association Of Country Sports ( SACS) Here:. You see there is a difference in the law in each country so check out the legal options and get some training, from someone who knows how to do it properly and humanly. Now for the trapping I like to use big live traps, I get these from Fourteenacre,Here: and they are by far the best I have ever used, actually I get all my trapping snaring equipment from them now whether it be for rat or fox, and so much more. I like to use quality in everything I do, it makes for a better job and lasts as I was told as a boy by my Pappy (grandfather) it’s better to buy once, and cry once. And if you look after your gear it will look after you, of course he was right whether it be gun trap or tool etc. I was called out by one of my land owners just recently, her elderly mother way up in her high 70’s, had a small holding, and she loved to keep a couple of pigs a few sheep, but she loved by far her geese, ducks and rare variety of Old English Hens, and I must say they were a magnificent sight and reminded me of being back on my uncles farm as a boy.
I got the call from one of my land owners, and their first words were; “Can you go and help mother she is at her wits end?” As it turns out those lovely people in a white van, had been releasing town caught foxes right next to her small holding the poor old lady had lost over half of her rare flock. The small holding also backed onto a local pheasant shoot I re-assured my land owner, that I would get onto it straight away so don’t worry and tell mother to get the kettle on… After going round to survey what the problem was, it was quite apparent with a pile of dead hen’s feathers; all over the place and the rest of the flock well let’s just say they were more than spooked. Bless the old dear she had heard the attack charged out in her nighty and slippers with broom in hand and beat the fox off and chased it away. I had a good look around the place and found how the fox/es were getting in, and where they were attacking the flock from. Right next to the fence they had ripped a hole right through it, so I set two cage traps one over the hole, and one outside the fence near the hedge were they were coming in from. Alas where the small holding was, I could not use the gun as every shot would be towards a busy main road with no back stop so shooting was out of the question. I also called around to see the game keeper of the shoot next door, luckily I knew him from when we were together at Keepering College, and indeed passed out at the same time. I told him of the old dears trouble, and he confirmed he kept onto of the foxes around the estate, but just recently there had been an up serge in fox attacks on his pheasants and had been shooting all sorts of poor specimens with bits missing on them including one with three legs. I told him of the white van and the foxes being dropped off, and then a light went on, and we concluded the time scale of the attacks had almost been the same day, as a white van had been seen in the area dropping the foxes off! You see I get all the information from all over, from dog walker’s farmers and local ramblers etc. And I am now building up a picture with physical and photographic evidence and it’s only a matter of time before we catch the bugger red handed, with a video camera etc. Well my ole mucker the keeper was on board without hesitation, and was going to help me not only keep an eye out and check the traps, but also we would go on fox patrol together too. That very evening we headed out with lamps rifles the NS200 Night Vision unit from NiteSite, ready to deal with the foxes or indeed video the white van man if we came across him. Actually it was nice to have someone, to lamp with who knows what they are doing, as my daughter Emilie was not able to come as it was a school night much to her stamping of her feet and a tantrum. Her mother tells me she was up all night looking out the window with binoculars trying to spot our lamp beam. Well that’s my girl she has the heart and soul of a country girl I think she will be dragging me out in my old age. As we cruised round the shooting estate and local farms, in my ole muckers Land rover Discovery, the banter started straight away it was just like being back at Keepering College again. I telle I felt quite at home, we got around to the back end of a big wood that also lead over the hill towards the small holding I had a quick shine with the lamp then all of a sudden I picked up not one but three sets of fox eyes. I had a quick look and it confirmed it was three cubs.
Now normally I only deal with problem foxes, but this close to the pheasants and the small holding, it’s only a matter of time before they become a problem and or their parents the dog and vixen probably already are. So I decided to take them out as well, as my mucker was quite insistent anyway as they were near his big release pen so we drove round the headland to get a better shot and have a better back stop for my rifle. I squealed them for a few seconds then got the lamp on them, there they were one was at fifty yards the other two about a hundred yards give or take a few yards. I lined up on the first one and let rip crack, thump. I knew my 58 grain Norma round from my 243, lead injector had sailed true just by the hollow sound of the thump. Light back on and the other two were still sat there, I suppose it was a mix of their youth, the distance, the strong wind and the T8 moderator on the rifle. Keeping the shot report down. So I lined up on the one on the right crack, thump, and down he went the other went to make a run for it, I stayed on him my ole mucker keeping the beam on him he stopped thirty yards on, a good safe shot against the bank and again crack ,thump I got him too… Less than two minutes and three fox cubs, as it turned out they were all dog foxes too, my ole mucker was doing a jig by this point saying you still got it then mucker you can still shoot the wings off a fly then! That’s a long story and a personal joke between us from our keepering college days one day I may relate that story in one of my books but for now I will leave it there. As I just picked up fox number three, and took a picture my phone starts ringing. It’s a sheep farmer from down the valley, he knew we were out lamping tonight and had a fox attacking his lambing field and literally taking the lambs as they were being born right from the back end of the Mother Ewes (female sheep). So my ole keeper mucker and myself high tailed it over, to see what we could do I stuck my coat on as the wind was biting right through my lamping foxes hoodie, much to the banter from my ole mucker saying I was getting soft. As my Pappy taught me no point having a dog, and barking yourself so I put my coat on and stayed warm. Upon getting to the lambing field we had a quick shine around, and sure enough there was a big vixen sat there just watching at the back end of a Ewe that was just about to give birth. No shot from where we were, the back stop was not any good and the Ewe was dead in line with the fox. So we snuck around the sparse hedge, along the wall using the wind to our advantage. I could also use the wall as a good steady rest to take the shot from but even then the closest I could get was about 200 yards from the fox that gave me a safe shot with a good back stop. Hay Ho nothing else for it you have to make do with what you have some times. We got into position and waited a couple of minutes for my breathing to settle down, as it was a bit of a hike to get into position. Right it’s now or never as I slowly popped up over the wall and steadied myself and the rifle and gave the signal for the lamp to go on. The wind had quite a bite as it was hitting us straight in the face and made my eyes water but at least it took our scent away from the fox.
There she was sat up tall watching the back end of the Mother Ewe about to give birth, I lined her up in my scope good and steady gave just a touch of elevation and windage and squeezed off the shot. Crack then thump a perfect shot placement to the engine room as my ole mucker grabbed me by the scruff with some words I cannot write here saying you got her what a cracking shot. I must admit I was rather chuffed with that one and I had worked hard for it too as being a skinny fella(not), trying to get round on the wind on a hillside that’s not something I am really built for now days in my seasoned years. The next night I had to check on the free range chicken farm before heading down to check the traps on the small holding, I got to the chicken farm and set up the NS200 night vision unit from NiteSite and sat in the truck just watching the flock come and go then something funny happened. As I was sat there in the dark watching the flock go about their business, as they all started heading for the safety of the hen shed to roost a bloody hen jumped up flapping onto my arm that was holding the gun and NV. I telle boys I think I left a brown stain on the car seat, bloody stupid chicken scared the life out of me and all the farmer could do was laugh his head off. That chicken was lucky she did not come home with me and jump in the oven I telle boys there is a great pic that farmer took that I will include it in this article. Well after my nerves being strained to the last nerve, I headed down to check the traps at the small holding. The night I put them in I caught a fox in the one next to the hedge and that kept the old dear happy, I also baited the traps up with a couple of the dead geese as they seemed to smell pretty good and I knew they would wind scent them no problem. Bugger me double bubble, I had another fox in the trap by the hedge and one in the trap inside the pen so I dispatched them quickly and humanly, if you look in one of the pic you can see the perfect shot placement into the centre mass of the foxes head The old dear was so happy and has not lost a hen or anything else since, I have been on duty there but it’s only a matter of time as we all know. As for the white van man his days are numbered, and as soon as we have enough evidence the police will have him in cuffs hopefully. I hope you have enjoyed reading this as much as I have writing it and please keep all the wonderful letters and emails coming to the offices of The Countryman’s Diary www.countrymans-diary.co.uk both Greg and myself try to answer you all personally See you all in Out Foxing Charlie 5. Out Foxing Charlie 4 By The Ole Hedge Creeper Aka: Rob Collins