By The Ole Hedge Creeper
Now before I go on with this article I would like to remind you guys and gals what I said in Out Foxing Charlie 1 and all other articles in this series thus far, I only deal with problem foxes by that I mean foxes that attack the livestock or game birds etc,
I don’t just go and shoot a fox just because it’s a fox that’s not how I was taught by a great countryman my Pappy, and that’s how I teach my apprentice’s now for me is all about habitat conservation and finding the balance between man and nature, it’s good to have a fox or two about a farm they are the natural predators and do a good job clearing up some other vermin etc.
I love to shoot them with a camera as I do all wild life, that said as soon as a fox turns its attention to the game birds or the farmers livestock then he becomes enemy number one on my list and I will show him no quarter,
I have been a professional vermin controller for more years than I care to mention and I must admit without blowing my own trumpet too much I am more successful than most in this game, my Pappy taught me to always have an open mind you will learn something new every day.
He also taught me to think walk and talk like the quarry I was after, when I say talk I don’t mean have a conversation I mean calling etc as many of you already know from seeing me at a show etc I can pretty much use any call bar one, that’s that damn silver metal one from Best Fox Call I end up looking like a rabid dog, mind you they say use it like you’re doing a wolf whistle I can’t whistle like that either so that may have an effect on the call.
Now one thing my Pappy and well my Dad and Uncle Dave taught me (both fine countrymen of the old school) is to outsmart a quarry you have to think like your quarry in this case the fox, to be successful you will need a good knowledge of field craft and know the land you are on as good as the fox himself,
I always use reconnaissance in all my hunting build a picture up walk the walk talk the talk, just like when I am pigeon shooting 3 days reconnaissance for one days shooting, now I don’t mean three full days but you catch what I am trying to pass on to you here, success or failure comes down to how much effort you put in before the hunt etc.
We start off on a cold wet February night the lovely white van man had been dropping off his town caught foxes in the area so I went out on patrol as livestock attacks had risen tenfold, shooting these poor excuse of a fox is like shooting rats in a barrel, it really sickens me how a human being can put an animal through such suffering I mean the poor things half-starved full of mange etc, some have been operated on as they must have been hit by a car or something,
I have shot them with eyes and ears missing, three legged ones, neutered ones you name it nothing surprises me anymore, those folk who release them in my book are monsters putting these poor animal’s through such suffering, I know feel it my duty as a countryman to put these animals down as fast as possible before they starve to death or worse, in one night I shot 12 town released foxes they just sat there one even tried to get in my truck I don’t know who was more surprised me or the young sports who were with me,
I telle I went up in the air like old brock the Badger himself coming down growling ready to fight as I had come literally nose to nose with the poor thing, if you see me at a game fair or something ask me to tell you the full story I laugh now but at the time it was not so funny, I telle if it were up to me those releasing these poor foxes and other animals that can’t survive to let them suffer, I would have them strung up and the cat of nine tails put across their backs, one thing I can’t abide is cruelty to animals weather domestic or wild and those that are cruel to any animal are the lowest form of scum right next to pedophiles and what should happen to them I can’t write here, I am a countryman a conservationist a custodian of mother nature that is why I try to educate the young countrymen and young sports the old school way I was taught, for we must leave this world in a better state than when we found it.
Rant over let’s get on with the article as that’s what you want to read, after the usual vermin rounds and call outs I got a message from a farm a sports ground and a very prestigious riding center, the farm was lambing early for some reason, the sports ground had damage from rabbits and the riding arena had some fine pedigree ducks geese and rare breed chickens, these three places all adjoined each other and all were complaining much of the same rabbits and foxes attacking the livestock, farmer said I counted six foxes out in the lambing field last night.
Nothing else for it after walking the ground in daylight of all three venues I built up a picture of how to tackle each place and each problem, indeed all three places had rabbit warrens surrounding their hedge rows etc, as for the foxes I knew they were coming in from the large woodland blocks that surrounded the place, now dealing with the rabbits would be a relatively standard affair, ferreting in daytime and shooting them at night with the 17hmr or 22 rim fire with the awesome NiteSite Wolf on the guns and the simply Brilliant NiteSite Spotter for finding the quarry I seek in the pitch black of the night, I don’t use a lamp here as too many other folk have educated the quarry to what a lamp is taking frustrated shots thus making my job twenty times harder and that’s why I use the NiteSite system as in my opinion that is the best on the market.
Along with me for the ride and the company was fellow Countryman’s Diary writer JT, a fine young countryman of 24 years who hails from an old school hunting family just like me, I have since taken him on as my apprentice deer manager for my estate work, now JT would be armed with his 17hmr with his NiteSite on for the rabbits and I would be armed with my trusty ole Browning 243 with my Nite Site Wolf and loaded with a 58 grain ballistic tip Norma round, Both rifles had the Wild Cat moderator systems on them JT had the whisper and I had my trusty ole Wild Cat Predator 12 on both mods literally silencing the roar, as I said it was a bitterly cold February night with a touch of rain in the air but JT and I came prepared we both had our Jack Pyke Gear on I telle that new Maxima gear from Jack Pyke is like wearing a duvet I was as snug as a bug in a rug I telle.
We started off in the riding arena as that was central to the farm and sports ground, almost immediately JT bagged the first rabbit about 120 yards out, he went to go and retrieve it when I stopped him, I caught a flash of eyes in the bottom hedge just over 200 yards away in my NiteSite Spotter, it was a fox coming in on the line directly for the hen house, I mounted the 243 onto my sticks and cranked up the NiteSite Wolf, experience told me this was a big vixen I could clearly see on the screen of the Wolf, I waited until she had committed herself to the attack on the hen house as I squealed her she stopped dead in her tracks, I squeezed off the shot and the distinct thump of a perfect engine room shot told me the Norma round had humanly and quickly put her down, JT and I took a breath and waited just in case another fox or rabbit appeared but after 10 minutes nothing so we retrieved the rabbit and vixen.
I decided we should go up to the top paddocks that backed on to the sports ground as the rabbit damage on both sides of the fence was quite bad there, again with the aid of the spotter we could see the vast amount of rabbits that were there, best of all they could not see us as we approached them on the wind as it took our scent away from their position, JT lined up taking 2 rabbits in quick succession before the rest bolted for the safety of the warren, I must admit JT and I make a pretty good team as we think the same as we were both taught the same, I scanned around with the spotter and there coming across the sports ground right through a bunch of rabbits was a big dog fox, he was heading straight for the lambing fields so no time to waste we hopped over the fence and took a position to head him off, you know he passed within a few feet or the rabbit with no interest in them even the rabbits did not show any sign of alarm with him there as he squatted down for a pee, his mind was on a lamb dinner as we followed him with the NiteSite Wolf on my 243 that was on my shooting sticks tracking his every move, JT was on the Nite site Spotter following him too.
He was half way across the sports ground about ready to go the lambing field when I hit him with my deadly rabbit distress call on my hand, my Pappy taught me how to do hare rat and rabbit etc on my hand so I am never without a call, the big dog fox stopped in his track to my first squeal so I hit him with it again this was when he head down full throttle bolted straight towards us from 300 yards out, I whistled to stop him but he kept coming full throttle right at us so I shouted HEY as he slid to a halt at around 40 yards, but too late the cross hairs were already on the engine room as I squeezed off the shot and he dropped right on the spot, I telle my hand call is deadly I have used so many calls both hand and electronic but nothing beats my hand call, that is except the Howler from Calls Of The Wild that comes in at a close second but I will tell you of that in this article a bit further on.
JT retrieved the big dog fox and placed him with the vixen from earlier and the 3 rabbits, we stalked up around the sports ground as we had spotted some rabbits feeding on the edge of the wood near the lambing field, we stalked around on the wind and got to about 50 yards as JT lined up on the nearest rabbit and did a cracking head shot in a good wind that helped mask the crack of the 17hmr, we retrieved the rabbit and headed over to the lambing fields, we scanned around with the NiteSite Spotter nothing but the ewes and lambs and the odd rabbit about, but you know when you get that feeling like you are being watched and the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end both JT and I had that almost at the same time, I jokingly said oh it must be tiddles out tonight as JT’s face went white as a sheet, to read about tiddles read my Big Cats article’s on the Countryman’s Diary Magazine.
Then I saw it a pair of bright eyes looking at us from the edge of the wood, no it was not tiddles it was another fox around 250 yards away, I gave him a squeak on my hand and he came forward about 10 yards I could see him as clear as if it were daylight on the screen of the NiteSite Wolf, I squealed again but he was having none of it sat at the bottom of the big bank on the edge of the long grass, I decided to take the shot from there as I steadied myself on my shooting sticks calming my breathing and heart rate, I squeezed off the shot crack thump as the Norma rough sailed true and bowled him over backwards down the ditch, I sent JT to retrieve him but a rooky mistake we left the torches in the truck a mile away, JT tried using the torch on his phone but alas it was not bright enough as he came back a bit quick, what’s up I asked he said there’s something up there watching me I think its tiddles I laughed and said I will come back in the morning to find the lost fox, indeed I did and there he was right where I shot him dead as a door nail.
Were now in March and the lambing season is in full flow, it’s also The west Country Game and I am there with my big show stand, this year on my stand we had a huge line up we had of course The Ole Hedge Creeper, Really Wild Adventures, The Countryman’s diary(with several writers), Pass It On Young Sports, Gun Ice, Nige Jones (airgun world everyday hunter), Jack Pyke, NiteSite, Daystate Owners (face book group), and of course Calls Of The Wild, what a show the 20th anniversary and boy oh boy didn’t we celebrate in style, our stand was packed full all weekend inspiring everyone who came to it and I telle even if I say so myself we had the most diverse stand of the whole show, That coupled with England Rugby winning the grand slam of the 6 Nations proving yet again why our boys are kings among men, by the way I am a passionate rugby fan and England supporter to the core, we celebrated in fine style as we watched on the big screen in the pub as the boys stuff the French cockerel with some good ole sage and onion stuffing, as we fed on West Country steak and washed it down with West Country cider ohhhhhh yes what a weekend.
Mike who owns Calls Of The Wild came down to me on the Thursday from Yorkshire so we would be ready to head to the show on the Friday, as it was St Patrick’s day we got my favorite Murphy’s Irish Stout in to celebrate , but before we could even pour a pint an urgent call came in, come quick the lambs are being attacked by foxes the farmer screamed down the phone, blimey all hands on decks let’s get out there fast, I grabbed the usual combo of the NiteSite Wolf Spotter 243, Mike grabbed his new prototype fox call the howler, I had not even had a chance to have a go with it but I suppose there is no better test to see if it works than actually using it for its intended job, I was set up in no time in the farm yard and we made a quick job of climbing up the hills to the lambing fields.
The Moon was high and it was light daylight so I tucked us in under a sparse hedge to break up our silhouette, I said lets catch our breaths a moment and let the heart rate settle down, I also said give that howler a couple of toots and see what she sounds like, Mike had the spotter I had the gun on my shooting sticks with The NiteSite Wolf on top, Mike gave a couple of calls it sounded like a hare distress to me within seconds the first fox appeared, I could not believe it literally two toots and a fox was there, then another to my right then another coming from behind the first, bloody Nora this call works it really works, I don’t know about calling it The Howler I would call it a fox magnet, I decided what fox I was going to take all three foxes just sat and looked for this strange hare noise, I took the closest one about 250 yards out as it was also the safest shot up on the big hill, as I squeezed the trigger off and the Norma round left the gun it hit a perfect engine room kill shot, I can’t wait to get my R-tec from NiteSite as I would have had some amazing footage I telle, Mike tells me that’s fox number 14 in 2 weeks for the howler as he had been testing it with some other fox shooters in Yorkshire, I was happy with that and we were back home enjoying my Murphy’s Irish stout within the hour, I had a play with The Howler and this open read call is not just a single call it’s a multi call, it can do fawn distress a rabbit squeal a hare cry and a rat squeal, Mike is making me my own personal Howler so you will see a lot more of this little call I telle.
Like I say we dis the game fair and we were all flat out including Mike as he was selling his range of awesome exotic wood handmade calls and taking orders etc, I played with The Howler some more and now Mike is inundated with orders for all his calls right across the board, to see his calls look for Call Of The Wild on face book, there is a brilliant video from the show with me talking wolf with a terrier you gotta see it its hilarious.
Well back from an awesome weekend at the West Country Game Fair everyone goes home and life gets back to normal, this was when the phone rang it was my no1 son Ryan, as with all sons he only normally rings me when he wants something and this time was no different, as it was he needed my help with a lamb thieving Charlie fox.
You see his mate who is a farmer’s son and Ryan and their respective partners had decided they wanted to branch out on their own and start a bit of a farming business, a few head of cattle and few sheep and try and build their flock up they also have chickens and a couple of horses and had rented a small farm and some out buildings for all this, but as with everything they started to lose lambs to ole Charlie fox both the lads had tried to deal with the foxes but to no avail they just could not get them into shot gun range etc.
As a last resort my son had to grind his teeth and ask his ole Dad for a bit of help, of course I would help the boys I was young once and full of passion for farming etc, so I knew what they were struggling with in fact Ryan’s mate the farmer’s son is pretty good dog man but this open hill ground is no place for a dog this is rifle territory, in fact as it turns out I know the farmer I used to play rugby against him we have many mutual friends, anyway Ryan picked me up and we headed down to his secret farm he did not want me to know where it was as it was his shooting grounds, daft bugger typical father and son reminds me of JT and his Dad, as it turned out I knew the place well I had not been there for some 20 years but nothing really changes that much.
Ryan and myself and farmers son headed out on the hill they were adamant that the foxes would be there, I was not sure the weather was as still as a mill pond and the moon full so it was like daylight not great fox shooting weather,
I much prefer a moonless night with a wind and a touch of rain in the air but hey ho we had what we had and this is when my expertise would come in, I chose a section about 300 yards out from the main wood high on the hill the wind was at out fronts and the moon right over head so we tucked in behind a farm gate next to a bramble hedge,
Ryan and farmer shared the NiteSite Spotter and I stood by with the ole Browning 243 with The Nite site Wolf and Norma round in the breach, I let it settle down for 20 mins or so just watching to let the natural world forget we were there,
I said to Ryan ahhhhhhh this was why you didn’t telle me were this place was it was running alive with rabbits, you’re not shooting my rabbits Dad I want to shoot them I laughed and said son I thought I taught you better than that boy, the reason I said about the rabbits we might have to edge our bets and shoot a couple of rabbits and split the guts out and make a bit of sting pit to get these foxes in the safe position to shoot them, as all the odds were against us tonight, ahhhh he said as I repeated what my ole Dad would say to me,
I may have taught you all you know boy but I have not taught you all I know, Farmer laughed as Ryan and I bantered each other as father and sons do, I started to squeal on my hand and almost immediately I caught a glimpse of what I thought was a small vixen going left to right through the wood, but then nothing for ages just a glut of rabbits,
I remember the time being 22.50pm when I said I will give it 10 more minuet’s and then I must call it a night as I had a very early start the next morning, I also remember thinking I wish I had Mikes Howler call I could of really belted the calling out there, so I laid my hand calling on thick with various tones, it worked there high in the wood a set of eyes appeared as they made their way down the wooded hill side, they stopped just behind the bank inside the wood,
Ryan was like a ferret chattering in my ear can you hit that, of course son but patience my boy, I turned to the farmer and said is that sheep fencing just there, I could not see it but experience told me it should have fencing there, Ryan chattered in my ear some more as farmer confirmed it was sheep wire over a ditch.
Nothing else for it I would have to use a quiet rat squeak to get the fox this side of the fence, I told both the lads to stand perfectly still and quiet and watch on The NiteSite Spotter, this is where my expertise and experience comes in, in this game patience plays a key part and age over experience, I squeaked a few rat squeals that got the foxes attention but still she stayed on the other side of the fence.
So I used my secret squeal my pappy taught me and one I will not share but with my own son, that did the trick she came under that fence like a rocket and sat 10 yards inside the field watching, don’t forget this is a full moon and like daylight with no wind, Ryan chattering in my ear shoot now, patience son lets settle the breathing and the heart rate, I squeezed off the shot and nailed her right in the white bib as she dropped stone dead, Ryan’s cheers echoed across the valley as he went out to get her, I called him back and said wait we might get another let’s give it ten more minuet’s, alas not another showed itself on this night were knowledge and experience filled the bag.
I am sure I will have to go down and help the boys again at some point, and of course I will in a heartbeat I really want them to succeed as I know how much hard work farming is, the sleepless nights in god awful weather etc, but when it works ahhhh man those new born lambs, the delivering of a calve or just simply collecting and eating eggs from your own hens there nothing better eh boys, so if you need ole Dad I am here for help advice or some jolly old banter.
Until Out Foxing Charlie 10 were I will be bringing you some amazing tales from my time out in the field or some amazing new products etc, I hope you have enjoyed reading this as much as I have writing it, pop over to the diary and see what other amazing article’s we have from some truly inspirations countrymen, I will include a link to all the websites and some videos with this article too, until next time PROPER JOB MUCKER. 😉
Out Foxing Charlie 9
By The Ole Hedge Creeper