Out Foxing Charlie 16.
By The Ole Hedge Creeper.
Blimey 16 already, it only seems like yesterday I started writing this series, not all those years ago, I have not written about my professional fox control for a little while, Covid 19 has come and really hampered my professional pest control work as with lock down right at the point of lambing season was a massive hit too, I will take you on a short whistle stop tour of what I have been up too and hopefully pass on some tips too.
We start out on a cold wet early March evening, an Agricultural client of mine frantically telephoned to say come quick, come now, no come yesterday, my lambing flock is being hit by foxes, this is the normal sort of call I get in many forms, trying to shut the gate after the horse has bolted usually, I always say prevention is better than cure, my ethos still stands, I only deal with foxes that actually attack live stock, not this if it red its dead attitude, as it is this farmer is very good with animal husbandry and we have worked together a lot over the years to lessen any fox attacks, from electric fencing to re proofing etc and so much more, when he called saying come now I knew he had a real problem, I also had reports of the white van man in that area dropping off town caught foxes and releasing them, we will get to that much later in this article as I show you how many I have had to deal with on an adjacent farm.
Right back to this one, like I say it was a wet windy cold night, drizzle rain you know the stuff, fine and gets you soaked to the skin, I got there in daylight with my right hand man Niall who I am teaching the finer points of field craft tracking trapping and so much more, stealth being the one thing I have yet to ingrain in him, but each day he improves his knowledge, as I was taught with each fail a lesson is learned, this is the case with Niall he has to learn the hard way, I worked out that this client had more than one fox attacking, he had at least two foxes coming in from over the long meadow, by the tracks I would have said a small vixen and a larger dog fox, pond ground a different set of tracks, and home field most definitely two different foxes, one very large dog fox the tracks were huge and he kept leaving fur on the barbed wire fence in the corner of the field entrance, along side this was another set of tracks not quite as big, my thoughts either a large mature vixen or possibly a smaller dog fox.
I set Niall up on the long meadow in the shadow of and old willow tree, I suggested we put a rabbit out with his paunch as a bit of a scent attraction to get the foxes where we wanted them for the humane rifle shot to dispatch them, Niall declined, I on the other hand had just finished a rabbit job and had some fresh shot rabbits in my truck, so I paunched them out and hung them on a fencing spike at the bottom of a large bank, this not only would hopefully get the foxes right to where I wanted to shoot them but also give me the perfect safe back stop I required, as I was taught from boyhood once that bullet leaves the barrel you cant retrieve it, another reason I insist on walking any clients land in daylight to make sure of safe shooting positions and back stops and non safe shot zones.
The rain started to come in and my New Jack Pyke Digi Cammo jacket held up pretty well, I was lit up by the farm yards flood lights so I hid in the shadow of my truck, this did two things concealed me quite well and sheltered me from the drizzly rain, I first spotted the big dog fox in the corner of pond ground on my Night Pearl Thermal unit, oh yes I forgot to say that’s where I set up, I then switched to the NiteSite Eagle Dark Ops mounted on my trusty ole 223, there was another fox there now too, quite a big fox but not as big as the first, I thought oh yes that’s a Dog and Vixen paired up there, I could see them tentatively wind scenting my rabbits, I gave them one quick rabbit squeal no more, many people over call at this point, the Vixen came in like a steam train right to the rabbits hanging on the field spike, I slipped the safety off as I followed her in, she stopped 6 feet away from the rabbits and looked, I squeezed off the trigger and that distinct dull thump of a perfect shot to the engine room was heard, she dropped on the spot not even a twitch, the dog fox did not run so I squealed again a longer louder one this time, he came bolting in like hell was on his tail, I was just about to take the shot when!!!
A load voice shouted from the lights of the yard, DID YOU GET IT? Bugger me Niall had left his position came as running as soon as heard the shot shouting and scaring off the dog fox, I growled like an angry bear, it was not his fault he is only learning the finer points of professional pest control, we did catch the dog fox a few days later in my humane cage trap and humanly dispatched him too, I will come back to this farm in a bit after the next couple of farms.
A friend of Niall’s who had just bought a small farm got attacked by foxes, this time getting into his ornamental pet fowl and his beloved Pea Cock and Pea hen enclosure, I was asked could I go and sort out the problem, I went along with Niall to take a look at the problem, as it turns out I knew the lady she was a farmer friends ex wife, I advised better husbandry with better mesh on the enclosures and suggested an electric fence, but this was already in hand as Niall had already been down and put one up that day for them, the fellow told me of two foxes he had seen, I had already had reports of the white van man again in this area dropping foxes off, so I knew there would be more than two foxes, the farm next door was getting hit hard too so I picked that contract up as well.
Niall and I tracked around working out how they were coming and going from this property, all the main runs came in from the adjacent farm, as night fell we readied the rifle with the NiteSite Eagle Dark Ops and the Night Pear Thermal unit for spotting, we stalked the field margins as well as stayed in a strategic stationary position too, this front lambing paddock right opposite the fowl enclosure just kept calling me as a good ambush spot, by golly I was right, as Niall and I stalked in close to a gate I turned to Young sport Carter and said shadow my every move, if I stop you stop, Carter is Niall’s son and would be my fox retriever for the evening with Niall, I got to the gate and glassed the field, not 25 yards from me was a fox sat watching use.
I mounted the rifle onto my Primos gen 3 Trigger Sticks, but the fox trotted off to join another two foxes 45 yards away, I lined up on the first and fired it dropped on the spot at the bottom of this large embankment, the others took off running but not far, so I squealed a distressed rabbit call, the big dog fox came bolting back and I bagged him too not 5 yards from the first, the other bolted into a small orchard that was going up the hill not 60 yards away, I squealed again it froze and I nailed that one, as we went to retrieve those three foxes there were two more coming to their funeral as my squealing had called them in, so a quick recycle of the bolt and I had another brace of foxes, I turned to Niall and said these are no country foxes these are town released foxes, whilst retrieving those five foxes I saw another five foxes just sat there watching us, poor sods did not know how to hunt all they know is how to scavenge a KFC or dustbin, I really feel sorry for them poor things, those that are releasing them are no friend of the animals, in fact they should be prosecuted for animal cruelty I say, no wonder the farmers live stock are being attacked those poor foxes are starving to death, Both Clients were very happy with my efforts but at 4am in the morning I could pull the trigger no more, I arranged to go back in a couple of days if the attacks persisted.
A couple of days later I am back on those farms, they had been attacked in broad daylight, the foxes walked right past people no fear at all and headed for the fowl enclosures, well that was until the farmers terriers gave chase and chased them out of the yard, I was back on site that very night, again that lambing paddock just called me so I set up position there and waited for the night to fall, almost right on last light the first fox appeared, one after another came until I had another five foxes in the bag all heading to the fowl enclosure, I have to go back again as I have seen others in the area but await the call when they attack, but yes one small lambing paddock produced ten foxes, not in condition either as these town release one just don’t know how to survive in the country.
A little while later I was called back to that first farm as he had been attacked yet again, this time I set up on long ground and let Niall take the pond ground as the foxes had been seen in with the cattle in there, I got there early as this client wanted me to clear some rabbits too as they were eating more grass than his live stock or so he said, in no time at all with the trusty ole 22 rimfire and Eley Subsonic Ammunition I had a fair few rabbits in the bag, I said the same to Niall do you want to take some to put out as bait, again he declined, as the evening light started to fall I set out a stink box with all the rabbits paunch in it about 100 yards out, there was a lot of ambient light coming over the long ground from the trading estate over the ways some, I told Niall only shoot foxes now no rabbits, the light fell and I heard a Vixen calling.
I stalked over to the meadow ground I don’t know what it was but my sixth sense just called me there, I scanned with my Night Pearl thermal spotter, there was a huge dog fox walking off with one of the rabbits I could not find in the deep ditch that I shot earlier, I could not find it but he did, he didn’t attack the flock and took a rabbit home for supper so I say he was welcome to it, then I saw another fox heading right towards the Ginnie Fowl enclosure, I dropped onto him with the trusty 223 and NiteSite Combo, he stopped for a pee at the bottom of a large muck heap, click thump and he was on the ground without a twitch to a perfect engine room shot, I went to retrieve him, I then heard Niall fir five or so shots? I called him inquiring how many foxes are there, he said none he got bored so was shooting at some rabbits but didn’t get any of them either with his 17hmr.
I said stop shooting rabbit your there for foxes not rabbits and you blowing the area up you wont see any foxes either, I got back to my truck and scanned with the thermal once again, there was a fox coming right in through the hedge from the pond ground where Niall was on guard, he came right round wind scenting my stink box at the bottom of the large grass bank, I mounted the rifle of the trigger sticks and watched and waited for the perfect safe shot, in he trotted 10 feet away from the box stopping and looking, I took the safety off and squeezed off the shot, again that dull thump of a perfect shot to the engine room or so I though, as the smoke from the gasses cleared I could see a fox trotting away 200 yards up the grassy hill?
Bloody hell I missed so I gave a hare squeal and it stopped facing broad side to me, scratching my head I thought what happened there, I walked up and retrieved that fox, came back took a pic with two foxes and two rabbits in it, had a mug of tea out the flask and scanned some more, no foxes showed so we called it a night, I went to get my stink box and bugger me there was the first dead fox just next to the stink box, there were actually two foxes not one as I first thought, I scratched my head laughed and said oh well bonus box fox it is then.
There have been many more call outs since this but I will save them for Out Foxing Charlie 17, including a very memorable one in Hampshire with my ole chum Rob from Katch It Traps, I will include the pic in this article and tell you that story next time.
I hope you have enjoyed reading my humble scribbles as much as I have enjoyed writing them, until next time stay safe one and all, you can always catch up with me and my other articles.
Out Foxing Charlie 16
By The Ole Hedge Creeper