Countrymans Diary

Time to kill

They always say never work with children and animals…

I had all but packed up foxing for this season (I only usually shoot them while I have lambing ewes on the field, once those are in the sheds I don’t need to shoot any more until the next season, and won’t shoot them when they have cubs without a very good reason )

I have a particularly smart fox, changes it’s times anything up to 10-12 hours a night, but sometimes only changes an hour. Add that to the fact he never stands still, runs in, grabs one piece of bait and runs off again, and he is is a bugger to get.

I had missed this particular fox 3 times now, and was using my standard load which it’s normally accurate to sub 3/8″ at 120 metres, so didn’t think it could be that, but had recently loaded new rounds, and used the same components,  just a new canister of powder, a completely different batch number from the last.
So decided to run the zero again, and yes, it was off by 2″ at 100 metres, so quickly adjusted and that was ready for the next time.

Then out of the blue,  DARD NI rang me the other day, could I get them a couple more foxes (they told me at Christmas they already had enough for their testing)

So I said I would try. Last night got to bed at 00:30 and was asleep by 01:00 but had the alarm set for 02:30, so that was a short night.
It seemed like I had only just closed my eyes when the alarm went again, but I dutifully got up and dressed, made a quick Thermos of coffee, and had and quick mug of tea, and was set up in my loft for 03:10
As is my norm, every 2 minutes, I scanned for 30-60 seconds, and tonight I needed IR (sometimes there is enough moonlight to scan without it) so had the IR on LOW and flooded to fill FOV.

That made scanning difficult as on the left and right of my FOV I got extreme white out due to reflected IR, but that couldn’t be helped.
Nothing moved,  not even farm cats, and it was a very cold north wind blowing straight into the Window onto my face, hands, and legs, freezing me to the bone.

Unfortunately I had banged on a pair of unlined lightweight combats, instead of the heavier lined winter combats, so that meant my legs froze. I couldn’t find my shooting gloves, so my hands froze, and I had forgotten to light some hand warmers which usually provide me with some warmth in winter.

But I stuck at it, and finally at 04:51 I spied a shadow coming in weaving at at a rate of knots. It was the smart fox.
It ran into the bait pile, scooped up a piece of chicken, and was in and out again, by the time I had slipped the safety, and pressed video record.
I shouted and it came to a halt, but at the extreme edge of my FOV,  so as I placed the cross-hairs on it, so the IR reflected back, causing white-out…..

I made a rough guess at where it was according to what shadow it could see, and as it started moving again, I squeezed off, and heard the satisfying thump of of a hit.

I could just see it spin a couple of times, and then lay down, fox down 04:52
I went out and collected it, and it was a nice dog fox, heavy, and in good condition.

 

Was expecting 3-4:foxes tonight, the first one due at 01:05, then 02:14, 03:46, and 04:26 for the final one.

Started getting ready at 00:00, and was set up waiting for the first at 00:30
It was chucking it down with rain, a continuous hard downpour all night, and when I set up it had not abated.

All night it kept raining, 01:05 came and went, no fox, 02:14 came and went, no fox, 03:46 came and went, no fox, in fact nothing was moving, not bats, not birds,  not farm cats, not rats or mice, NOTHING !!

I decided I would give it to maximum 05:30 as the cold and camp were soaking my clothes,  and 8 was beginning to feel like I was actually stood in the downpour, the air was that heavy with moisture. There was also a ground mist caused by the rain on the warmish ground, rising into the cold air.

Finally, 04:46 and suddenly there’s a set of eyes, so immediately slip the safety and hit video record, take quick aim, and squeeze off……

BANG, the rifle bucked, and I brought the sight quickly back onto the fox, it sounds,  and stayed still, but it’s eyes didn’t dim, so just to make sure, chambered a second round, and squeezed off again, then chambered another round just in case,  but wasn’t needed.

This time I was sure it wasn’t going to move,  so unloaded the rifle, removed the safety and bolt,  and put my headlamp on,  then out to collect the the fox.

Was still absolutely teeming with rain, but managed to shield the phone enough to get a photo, although it took some missing with the touch screen due to my wet fingers, the water running off my jacket (what wasn’t soaking into it that is .

Got they photo, and put the phone quickly back into my thigh pocket out of rains way.

Inspected the fox, a nice dog fox in good overall condition.

The first bullet had bounced along its skull and spine, removing the hair down to the skin, but not, opening the fl3sh, probably just shocking it into staying still, the second was a good solid chest shot.

Only two more nights, then I pack up foxing until around August September again, once they have raised all their cubs.

 

So, although originally DARD NI had said they had enough foxes from my area at Christmas already, they rang last week and asked if I could get a few more. So next night I dropped a nice dog fox for them, which they duly collected the following afternoon.
However they wanted more, so  heckled trail cams this morning, and last night there was a fox there at 22:23, and it had come and went several times over a 20 minute period.  F49m the look of it, it was either a yearling dog, or a mature vixen, and I was leaning towards the latter, as I seemed to see grey hair on the black and white photos.
So, I decided I would set up for that tonight,  as I have a lot of repairs to do on the farms this coming week, and first thing Monday morning I have to go to the steel store and get some box section.
So said, so done, and at 20:55 I was set up and waiting, my X-sight II HD 3-14x filled with its four Kentli 2800mwh batteries and the T50-940nm filled with its 18650 batteries, all set with time and date, and the IR beam focused to centre of FOV, plus the beam flooded to fill FOV, and the power set to LOW, as most of my foxes are light shy, including IR (hence I also use 940nm instead of the standard 850nm. One of these days I will have saved enough for thermal, but until then the x-sight does the job better than any others i’ve tried)

As is my habit,  I scanned every two minutes for 30-60 seconds, then gave it 2 minutes rest, always switching on with the beam pointing skyward, and then gradually lowering the beam to the ground, before slowly scanning left to right, and top to bottom.

At first NOTHING came, then slowly life appeared,  as did some ground mist, as it had been sunny during the day, and was now freezing and due to get down to a minimum of at least minus 5c (being on an exposed hill, and high up, I’m expecting at least menus 7c, as the forecast is for towns and other built up areas)

Suddenly at 21:51, there was as fox, it’s eyes shining
bright. I held the IR lamp steady, making no sudden movement, and switched the video in, at the same time quickly slipping the safety.
Before it had time to even realise a light had bracketed it, I had the cross hairs lined up just being it’s shoulder blade, so quickly squeezed, and the rifle gave gave a satisfying kick as a 50gr VMAX flew down range at 3800fps, followed by at satisfying thump as it’s struck home, and the fox folded,  not so much as even at twitch.
I reloaded,  keeping the sights on the downed fox, but no movement so unloaded, and went and collected the fox, a nice mature vixen, in very good condition, unfortunately in cub it’s think, as she’s a bit plump.
If DARD wish for any more, they will have to hurry,  as I won’t shoot them any more after the end of the month, as they will soon there after have cubs.

A few nights ago got a telephone call from the egg farm down the road.
He had seen a fox around his chicken and duck pens,  so asked if I could deal with it. Although I had packed up for the season, as I don’t generally shoot them when they have cubs, and they are due to we’ll very soon, I have a rule that if one is a problem I will remove it and solve the problem.

So said so done,  and I sent down,  set up a trail cam, put bait down, and then the next night put more bait down and swapped the sd cards out.

Looked at the photos, and it appeared he had not one, not two,  but three problem foxes.
Two late evening and one early morning.

So set up that evening at 21:45, and shortly after the egg farmer came and lay the other side of the fence to watch proceedings.

I was expecting the one at 22:58, and the first appeared at 22:50, lined up, squeezed off, and missed, so it ran, and disappeared through the hedge.
I lay and waited for the second one, as they had been on camera together on the second nights photos, and that duly appeared at 23:06
Squeezed off at that one, heard the satisfying thump of a strike, and the fox went down, but got up almost immediately and went through the hedge.

Although we looked in the evening,  and the farmer checked the back field in the morning, it was nowhere to be found, but it will have died as it was a solid hit.
However, I wasn’t happy, as I’m used to them dropping on the spot, or not running more than a few metres.
So, I checked my zero the next day.

I must have knocked the sight when climbing over the gate, or when I was transporting it in the 4×4, as it was hitting about 3″ to the right, and about 3″ low.
Readjusted and saved the coordinates to the sd card and was ready for the next night.

Last night set up at 21:45, fresh bait out and lay down, this time the egg farmer came and lay down next to my mat, so he could get a better view
One suddenly turned up at 22:30, and had been in the chicken run, trying to get in the chicken coupes, but had failed and come out. I took aim and in the time it took me to slip the safety he was through the hedge and gone.
Waited another hour, but nothing more came, so I packed up for the night

Tonight got there about 21:45 again, quickly laid out fresh bait, and settled down to wait, the egg farmer lay on the ground next to my matt again.

Suddenly at 22:30 a fox appeared out of the chicken run (dogs had been barking,  so was obvious one was there), but was moving about about a lot, then suddenly headed for the fence so I lit it up with the IR,  and it stopped, and turned to look, in that moment I had already slipped the safety, aimed,  and I squeezed off, and heard once again the satisfying thump of about good hit, and saw it bowled over, 10 seconds later it gets up and runs, and I lost sight of it, but knew it wouldn’t be far.

Put the headlamp on and walked down to the bait area with the farmer. First thing we found was big pile of blood and some intestines and skin, and then about 5-6 metres away there was the fox, dead as a door nail.

The bullet had entered the chest just behind the right front shoulder, and exited via the stomach cavity, disembowelling it.
A big dog fox, a good weight, and in good condition so had been feeding well.

Now just the one in the mornings left to get, but that will wait for another night.

 

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