Countrymans Diary

Uncle Ben

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Uncle Ben.

I was expecting a fox at 17:40 and another at 19:30 but didn’t set up for them, as wasn’t 100% sure it was foxes (they are what I call ghost foxes, very fast in and out, trigger the IR, but rarely get caught on camera, often it’s just a part of their tail, or nothing at all on the photo.)

Another was expected at 01:35, so at 00:00 I went and set up, waiting for one to show. At 00:57 and 00:58 (so twice) the IR was triggered, but in the few milliseconds it took me to swivel the sight on to the camera FOV, there was nothing to see, despite the flash still dying.

Unfortunately my foxes are all very IR sensitive, and most are frightened of it due to poachers that use lamps and sometimes NV too. So, back to waiting, and finally at 01:32 I spy a fox wandering from side to side down the field to the bait. Stopping, sniffing the air, looking all around.

I take the IR off it to switch the camera on, but having co,d fingers doesn’t make it easy to do a “light touch” so was pressing too hard and it wasn’t switching on. By the time I got the camera on, and started back to where I last saw the fox, it had disappeared, completely out of sight, and I scanned high and low over a minute, and that with the 3-14x ATN X-Sight II.

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God help me if I had the 5-20x I would be missing lots of fast moving foxes. So I switched the camera off, and the IR, and waited two minutes again. Then back on with the IR, and scan slowly down around the bait, and there it is, it looks at me as I take aim, and breaks into a trot. I shout, it stops,

I start to aim again, and off it goes again, almost at the edge of my FOF, so I shout again, it stops and I take a snap shot before it goes again. Bang on 01:35 it’s dropped, you have to admire their punctuality, and I always sad when I pull the trigger.

Was reasonably sure I had it, as it disappeared from view, BUT, you never know, so off down to the field, and after 2-3 minutes of searching, found it, a nice vixen with the bait still in its mouth (it won’t starve then in fox heaven) So collected it up, and bagged it, bait still in its mouth, then texted DARD that I had a vixen, and then took the dogs for a walk.

Bugger me, fox mating call, loud as you like, and repetitive, much more so than nature, so an electronic caller, POACHERS !!!! Sure enough, when I look over to the fields that border the forest, there are lamps being scanned along. So I shine my headlamp over their heads (I have a powerful headlamp) and immediately the lights go out and the caller goes off.

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Waste of time phoning plod, by the time they get here they will be long gone. So back indoors, watch some TV, and have a mug of tea and some breakfast bars, plus some pain killers. Damn, two or three front tooth fillings suddenly drop out, so good I already have an appointment with the dentist this week or next week. Anyway, back to the foxes. Next one is due at 05:38, so at 04:00 I put the dogs back in their kennels, and set up in the loft again.

Outside of an odd cat, nothing moved at first, but then at 05:10, I spit a fox coming in from the side, and immediately move the IR off to one side, then switch on the camera, and slide back onto target, just in time to see it almost disappear behind the gate post, so a very difficult shot, but this is my home loads, and my rifle with these prints sub 3/8″ at 120 meters, so it’s doable, and I take the shot, and down it goes, 05:12.

It couldn’t have missed that post by more than 1/2″ LOL So down I go and collect it, and it’s a nice dog fox, so bagged it, and texted DARD to let them know there’s a second one to collect. Then set back up and waited for the other fox at 05:38, but it never came, so either scared off by the shot, saw my IR, or was chased or even caught by the poachers.

So packed up at 05:50 and took the dogs for a quick walk, then it was mug of tea, a “quicky post” on my FB page, and then some pain killers, and off to bed at 06:50 Alarm went again at 09:00 so a quick walk of the dogs and some breakfast, then checked the trail cams, and there’s another one two to back tonight LOL

So, final report in tonight’s foxing.
Last night was out with the dogs at 20:15 and as I was round the back looked up the field with the headlamp, and a fox was about 100 meters away from me, coming down the field to the bait, and another about 50-60 meters behind, stood on the brow of the hill.

However, soon as the lamp hit them they turned and scarpered.
I couldn’t see anything on the trail cams this morning, as the freezing fog had settled on them, and then frozen over the lenses last night. Fortunately the sun seems to have defrosted the lenses during the day, even though everything else is still frozen solid, so maybe tomorrow morning I will see some foxes on them.

That said I decided to set up tonight at 19:00 and see if they came again.
At 19:37 a small vixen came in from the right, and I quickly nailed it before it ran.
I almost didn’t get it on film, as the camera refused to switch on at first LOL, probably due to my having a latex glove in the left hand ready to handle foxes.
I didn’t take a photo of this one on the ground, as the angle of the shot meant it enters in the chest, but exited through the stomach cavity, and I don’t believe in posting gory photos.

Fireworks

Fireworks

Collect the fox, bagged it, then went indoors,  took the glove off and binned it, washed my hands, then went back out and set up again.
20:35 and a larger dog fox came in from the right again, and was heading out again, so had to nail that quickly as well.

This one was a tidy shot, so took a photo, then bagged it, went in, took glove off and binned it, washed hands, and back out again, just sat back down and another fox appeared in my IR, 20:55, but she caught sight of the IR, and stayed behind the wall/fence/hedge/barn, just peeking round the corner.
Finally she moved into the open, but I couldn’t swivel round far enough to get her, and she moved off back behind the barn and didn’t come back.

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Stayed sitting till 21:30, but nothing more came, and I decided to pack up, and took the dogs for a walk.
Tomorrow is another night, and I will see if I can get that other vixen at least.
And here’s the photo’s of the second fox, and the two in bags ready for DARD NI to collect in the morning.

So, final report on the night of Sunday 11th December, and morning of the 12th December (2016)

Had a quick hour around 22:00 but nothing was moving, so I came back in for a mug of tea, and to go walk the dogs again. So said, so done. Scanned the fields as I went down the lane, but no eyes to see. I know there’s a fair few about, as I have lots of ghost foxes.

If you don’t know what ghost foxes are, those are foxes that hang back, and then either sneak in under the rear of the trail cams,  OR, they suddenly race in, having chosen an area of the bait to scoop, and are in and out before the camera can actually fire it’s IR, so you get the flash of the IR, and a blank photo, nothing but the fields.but, sometimes they are not quite quick or careful enough, and I catch a flash of the tail, or a piece of the snout.
Anyway, I’m digressing.

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I decided to set back up and was once again in the hide at 00:25
Back to my normal routine, scan for two minutes, then switch IR off for two minutes, and that’s what I do all night,
This night though, there was a full moon out, and thin cloud, so I didn’t need any IR at all to start with. And that’s an advantage, because foxes DO see IR (as do many animals)
At 00:50 I spotted a shadow moving around at the side, in and out in and out, but outside my FOF.

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So rather than risk a wounded fox or scare him off with a miss (plus there was a hedge, fences, and a brick wall all waiting to be hit and a ricochet fly towards the houses in that direction ), I decided to wait and see if it came in. Every few minutes it would appear, but never where I could get a clear shot at it.
Then at 00:28 it was suddenly there, so I tried hitting the camera button for some video, but my fingers were by now cold from the damp in the air, and I ended up pressing too hard each time.

Eventually the camera was rolling, and just in time as it was getting ready for its run through the bait past the cameras.
I quickly swung the crosshairs over its head, aiming for a neck shot, and squeezed off, and down it went at 01:30.
Quick scan, nothing else around, so went out and collected it, a nice vixen in good fettle.

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Quickly texted DARD (Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the NI equivalent of DEFRA) to let them know I had one, so that they could maybe collect it later in the day.
Then it was back to scanning the field, and again, nothing moving, but then a shadow moved at the top of the field. It was a very large Brock badger, but, they are a protected species here, so I let it go on its way.

At 03:20I called it a night, as nothing more had been moving.
There was another “ghost fox” due at 05:45 and I would normally have stayed put and waited for it, but I twisted my back and trapped a nerve last Wednesday, and I’ve been in agony since, although it seems to be getting better slowly, it’s still agony.

Ahh well, set the trail cams and bait again tonight, and have a night in, then see what time my other ghost foxes are coming
Every night is another opportunity, a fox has to be lucky every single night, I just have to be lucky once with it.15419228_362279700802418_517135056_o

 

 

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