Out Foxing Charlie V.
Before I start this article; I want to make it plain and clear as I did right at the start in Out Foxing Charlie 1. I only deal with problem foxes that attack my farmer’s flocks, of duck/geese/chickens or flock of sheep or livestock ETC. I love to see foxes about and they help keep a natural balance, and have their place within the great circle of Mother Nature, and love to shoot them with a camera, not a gun as I do with most wildlife.
Now I have taken a bit of stick, of recent times for my approach both from within field sports and from other sources. My stand is plain and clear on this subject; To those of you with the shoot every fox on sight attitude you have no place in my approach to wildlife management, as that’s exactly what it is management not extinction! Now I am not saying in other countries like Australia ETC.
That this is so as the fox is not native there, as here the grey squirrel and mink, but to name a couple are not native to this land (UK) and in these circumstance’s yes, I whole hearted say we must control these numbers right down to a level of finding the balance and in some cases completely clearing an area of said vermin. And to the bunny huggers or fluffy brigade with the attitude Awwwww poor foxes.
I say this foxes, as with all wildlife have to be controlled and no they cannot be allowed to attack farmers valuable livestock. So if my stance is not of your liking or you don’t like my posts on (MY) Face Book page, don’t look at it or read my posts or leave, I will not lose a moment’s thought on the matter…
Now there is nothing more beautiful, than to see a fox hunt naturally and to see it in all its glories colour and slender, as with all wildlife and mother nature I was brought up to be a countryman of the old and to respect mother earth, and all its beings on it so I take great pleasure and pride in all I do within her bosom. I often just sit watch and listen to wildlife, in all the seasons from spring and new life to winter and the cold harsh weather that only the fittest survive.
It’s here in all her seasons I find solace and the answers I seek from the great spirit, and the guidance I give to the young sports of Pass it On Young Sports and beyond and to any countryman or woman or child that want to learn the old ways. Now back to the foxes, I get calls from all over this land and indeed now the world, asking for advice on not only how to hunt and be successful, l in dealing with foxes but also how to prevent stock attacks. Prevention is far better than cure as it is with many things and dealing with foxes is no different.
There are all sorts of things you can try, and maybe in a later article we will explore some of these options, but for now I will tell you of a couple of recent trips out dealing with problem Charlie foxes, after being called out to help by not only land owners but fellow field sports men who needed my help.
We start of on a Wednesday night late March, a farmer’s wife called me saying please come to the farm, I have foxes attacking my Bantams. I have tried everything from electric fencing to bells on fishing wire, leaving the collie out and so much more and still my poor birds are being attacked both day and night, even breaking into the coop. Now my first though was, hmmmmm sounds more like badger than fox.
But no the farmer’s wife was adamant it was foxes. as she had seen a pair attack her flock and she drove them off with the help of her collie dog. So going out walking the perimeters of the chicken fields, I soon had tracked how these foxes were getting in, and in fact tracked them right back to the earth were I found piles of bantam feathers, so I knew these were the problem foxes. Now I would normally have called the terrier men in to deal with the problem right there.
But alas this was not a solution here as the earth was right in the side of a rocky bank, and would not make for a very good dig, so I decided the only way was to use the rifle. The first night I went out I took along a novice countryman called Chris, who had never lamped before so instead of him waving a lamp about, I decided to use some new equipment sent to me from Clulite.
Both lamps could be mounted on the gun one was a torch style lamp throwing a beam 200m, so I decided to use this as a spotting lamp, and use it hand held with a red filter on, the other threw a 400m beam and I mounted this to the scope with a green filter. He brought along his Daystate air rifle, as I said he could shoot some rabbits and I would concentrate on the foxes. We stalked around the hill side to a gate that would make a great ambush point with the hill running up to the left to the wood, were the fox earth was.
The farm house is to our right at the bottom of the hill, this left us not only with a good back stop, for the shot but also a clear view of the entire hill leading from the woods and the earth to the chicken coops at the bottom by the farm house. I had a quick shine around, tested all the gear was working ok, and then settled in for a bit.
I could feel Chris and his excitement for his first time lamping, so I gave him the hand help torch with the red filter on to settle him down a bit. I started calling on Eddie Nash’s call the Gnasher and low and behold almost on cue Chris picked up a set of eyes some 200m away. I told him to turn the light off, whilst I gave a few seconds calling then to have another shine; Chris asked how close can we get the fox to come in?
I jokingly said how close do you want him to be? Chris put the light on and yes we were on a fox coming in to my call so light off again, whilst I gave a squeak or two. Light back on nothing no fox no eyes nothing…. The wind changed direction and started blowing from our left, from the wood direction so I called some more but still nothing. This was when both Chris and I looked at each other and said can you smell fox? In a, whispered voice. I looked down and the fox was at our feet just the other side of the gate, as he had out flanked us and came down from the wood along the sparse hedge row, we were stood on at the gate. He was so close I could reach out and have touched him as I tapped Chris on the shoulder and in a sort of half demented voice a bit like Jones from dads army say fox at our feet pointing at it.
We could clearly see his ears going back and forth as if to say that does not look like a distressed rabbit, as it said sod this and showed us its brush and was off like a rocket. I got it in the beam from the lamp, on the rifle as I followed it, looking through the scope. I squealed a distressed hare squeal on my on my hand, and it stopped for a split second to look back. I could see it was in lovely condition well it should be it was bantam fed as it showed its brush again and said I am off.
I turned to Chris and said, you asked how close could I get you and laughed saying was that close enough for you? We both started laughing and I will say I was quite impressed with this Clulite gear, perhaps you will hear more about it in Out Foxing Charlie 6. We called it a night after a couple of hours with nothing else showing, and I told the farmer would be back in a couple of nights to have another go. Indeed I went back on my own two nights later armed with the NS200, night vision unit from NiteSite mounted on my 243 Browning lead injector. I also used a battery operated call from my ole mucker Rob Crampton from Best Fox Call, it was a little call model GC101 Icotec and set to cotton tail distress. It worked like a dream I was only there twenty five minutes and both foxes came to the call like a moth to a flame.
I shot the dog fox not 3ft from the call and the vixen at just over 100 yards, both had a 243 lead aspirin administered to the engine room, and that was the end of that. The farmer’s wife has not reported any more loss of her bantams, so a job well done quickly and humanely. I got a call from an old shooting mucker of mine, who happens to be a shepherd. He had just taken a new job as shepherd, on a new farm in Berkshire and with a 500 head strong flock to take on. A true countryman of the old school himself and if I say so myself a damn good shot with a rifle and shotgun alike. Now normally he would not have to call me in to help, as he is more than equipped with both the knowledge and the equipment to do the job himself.
But alas the entire flock was in full lambing stage, and he was tied up with all that and simply did not have the time to deal with the fox attacks on the farm, as well as dealing with the flock and other farm duties. All the lambing fields were electrified off but still the foxes were attacking, taking a great many lambs, this is when his boss a fine Irishman, said to call me in and help stop the attacks on his valuable flock and stop the loss of even more lambs. So I made the pilgrimage just over a 100 miles North, from Somerset to Berkshire loaded up with rifles shot guns lamps, Night Vision and a variety of calls. I must say the drive up was stunning and some of the most wonderful countryside I have ever been blessed to see. Upon getting to the farm there was my ole mucker, full of smiles and a greeting that I have come to love from Stuart, a firm hand shake and an how’s it going mate in his midland accent.
After unloading the truck and lashing and stowing, all the guns in the gun cabinet except the 243, as I said show me the problem and the lamping fields. I took the rifle as you never know your luck in a big town. I may get lucky and get a fox straight away I have done this before and I am sure it will happen again.
I quickly worked out how the foxes were getting in, and what route they were taking to and from the lambing fields. So I sat in my truck and waited for night to fall. Alas this first night a thick fog came down and we could not see 20 yards so called it a early night, and went back for a few well-earned West Country ciders, that I had brought with me and a meal fit for a king. The next morning I got up and had a hearty fry up, with my ole mucker and he told me of a corvid (crow family) problem too, as they were pecking the eyes out of the new born lambs and could I hit them too. Hell yeah whilst I was here you would get my full attention mucker I said.
So loaded up with my air Arms, S410 Fac air rifle for close work my 17hmr for longer range corvid control, and the 243 for the foxes. I headed out to the lambing fields ready to deal with whatever was set before me to protect the flock. He also told me we had lost lambs the night before and one he could not find I found later that morning were the fox had left it.
I stalked around on foot, and using the truck, finding the truck the better option not only covering more ground but the corvids were used to farm trucks around the flock. I will say I made a healthy hole in the mixed corvid population, in Berkshire that day with a big bag of rook/crow/jackdaw and magpie’s being added to the list. I also had to go move some pigeons off a crop next to a horse paddock and the moderated Air Arms really came into her own there with a respectable, bag of wood pigeon that any shot gunner would be proud of.
Well the day passed so quickly and turned into evening, so I positioned myself were I had the night before when the fog had come in. And as the light fell with the last dregs of light the foxes moved in on the flock, as I caught sight of the distinct red coat of the fox coming in on the tree line right where I had tracked them. I sat, I watched and I waited, with the 243 at the ready, as she came full circle around the flock and picked a lamb all on its own, If I had a pen I could of drew the line she took as I had seen the same line and thought if I was a fox that’s were I would go and the lamb.
I would take, what she didn’t know was The Ole Hedge Creeper was there to cure her addiction to my friends new born lambs.
She got round as I waited for the perfect moment, as she cleared the flock and gave me a good clear back stop with no chance of injuring a Ewe (female sheep) laid asleep nearby.
As she took her final approach on the sleeping lamb, I gave a good hard squeal stopping her dead in her tracks, as she looked straight at me. But too late, I had her marked and put the lead aspirin right in the engine room dropping her stone dead instantly not 6ft from the sleeping lamb.
I breathed an easy breath, knowing that was a job well done, with pin point accuracy and taking a quick humane shot at the perfect moment. This is often were many a novice falls short and lacks the discipline or the knowledge of the shot or gets excited and fluffs the shot.
Remember this is experience gained from a life time of being out there doing the job and understanding all the cards that come into play. No time to rest as the dark fell, I retrieved the dead vixen and waited in the truck for the eerie night, with a cold chill in the wind to take its place as mother earth went to sleep
This is when fox number two decided to come into the lambing almost on cue he took a route that I had calculated, from the far corner of the 40 acre field. So now with the NS200 night vision unit from NiteSite loaded onto the 243 I tracked his approach to the flock.
She followed the ditch along the side of the field got to the willow tree, and made her final attacking approach to a lamb sat asleep, just away from its mother. I gave a squeal again, stopping this vixen right in her tracks not 70 yards away, as I squeezed of the shot again, administering a lead aspirin to the engine room She dropped like a stone, dead on the spot and again I had protected the flock and dealt with a lamb thieving Charlie fox.
By this point Stuart, had finished his farm chores after yet another 18 hour day, and came down to join me in the lambing fields. Let’s just say, at the sight of the two dead foxes his smile went from ear to ear as he said you are craftier than the foxes I swear. The Ole Hedge Creeper was a fox in a former life. We both laughed and got in the truck and went to check the other fields this time by lamp light.
As we got to the bottom of the big field to check on the flock, there was a big dog fox about to attack the lambs, but alas no safe shot as he was in line with a horse paddock that had around ten horses in it. So I drove at him scaring him away from the flock as he turned brush and high tailed it through the horse paddock towards the lambing shed the other side of the farm. Stuart was tired by now so said lets go home, for some food and drink before bed but I just couldn’t I know that fox was about to attack the flock. I drove back to the lambing shed and said let’s just have one more shine out in that crop field I have a gut feeling Charlie is coming into raid the lambing shed.
I have learned over the years to trust my gut, as it quite often was right, and this time was no exception. As we shined across the field there he was coming along the tractor track in the crop. Stuart took out his 243 as I said go on your turn for a shot as the fox just froze knowing something was amiss. I put the light on and he turned brush and went sideways into the crop that was about a foot tall.
So I squealed him on my hand and he stopped in his tracks, it was now or never mucker, as Stuart squeezed off the shot the distinct sound of the 243 and the thwack as the shot sailed true and the dull thump of a perfect shot to the engine room. I estimated it was about 300 yards in the dark but we would have to retrieve him in the morning as there was no way we would find him in the crop at night.
Indeed a great shot and that very next morning, Stuart retrieved the big dog fox with the help of his gun dog a lovely black lab called Purdy, Stuarts boss was over the moon with our efforts and has asked me to go back anytime I want so long as I deal with the lamb thieving foxes.
My last day and again, I gave the local corvid population a good reduction in their numbers. That evening I watched 2 more foxes moussing and hunting rabbits. Right next to the lambing fields and although, I could of easily shot both of them they showed no interest in attacking the flock and were happy hunting wild food, so I left them alone. Now I know many of you will say, it won’t be long before they do attack, and yes this may be true but for now they left the flock alone so I left them alone, as for me they were not a problem and watching them hunt naturally filled my soul with heart tokens. In fact as I sit here typing Stuart has reported not a single fox attack on the flock so I say a job well done. I hope you have enjoyed this article and see you in Out Foxing Charlie 6 you can also catch up with The Ole Hedge Creeper over at my website.Here: until the next time I say proper job mucker Ava Good Un. Out Foxing Charlie 5 By The Ole Hedge Creeper Aka Rob Collins The Ole Hedge-creeper