OUT FOXING CHARLIE II Its Back bigger and better!!!
Well here we are in my second attempt at scribbles and ramblings, and an attempt at passing on some more of my knowledge in the Out Foxing Charlie Series, Now in the last article Out Foxing Charlie we took you on a journey on my thoughts and how I only deal with problem Charlie’s (foxes) and we only looked at the method of rifle shooting them. Well of course there are other methods too that I use but the rifle is the main one for me in today’s modern world. I want to take you on a journey spanning back to my childhood and bring you up to present day, you see for me my real passion is working dogs especially terriers, and running dogs being a passion that runs through my very veins that beats with every heartbeat, and this too I want to share with you as a good terrier man is an asset so often underrated and that is a mistake. So I will par take some knowledge to you all as well as add a story or two from out in the field dealing with the problem Charlie’s (foxes), and how in dealing with them it should not only be done within the law, but always be humane and efficient and above all keep the good name of field sports as just that. As I have written many times reconnaissance is the key you have to understand your quarry, every step it takes you must see it, know it, and feel it. So for this you must become the Fox itself, now I don’t mean go crawling around and jumping in chicken coops etc. I mean build a picture up of the problem fox or foxes that you have to deal with, and when you get this right the hunt will be a lot more smoother and more likely to be successful.
I am often asked how do I get such good results and pretty much always get the fox or foxes I am after, and the answer is simple recon, and more recon. As with most animals even humans we are all creatures of habit even the most irregular of patterns has a sequence. Some people call me old fashioned and should move with the modern world but as I was taught by some of the old masters never rule out anything, use everything and keep an open mind. And yes I do use the lamp a lot, but I have come across a brilliant piece of Night Vision ( NV ) equipment that is absolutely brilliant. I have used it for everything from lamp shy bunnies and rats, to of course dealing with lamp shy problem Charlie’s (foxes) and this NV gear does not mess my eyes up either. I am not much for adverts and simply say whether it does the job it was meant for or as I call it does what it says on the tin. Well I am talking about the amazing NS200 NV from the simply brilliant Nite Site Company and I telle boys this gear really has revolutionised my hunting.
I will tell you in the next few sentences of a couple of days/nights out dealing, with the problem Charlie Foxes and how old school teachings and modern world equipment has made the dealing with these animals a more smooth and successful hunt every time. For about two years I was after one big old dog fox, in fact he turned out to be a British record but that’s not the reason I was after him. You see for two years he had decimated an entire flock of duck and chickens and even taken the geese too, the farmer was at his whit’s end with this brute. He had all sorts of people out after him and at times from where I sat on the farm next door watching these inexperienced hunters work it looked like, Darth Vader and Luke Sky Walker were having a light sabre battle, or as my son called it a disco with all the noise of the Elephants marching through the jungle in jungle book…
Of course they never got anywhere near him and all they did was educate him to what a lamp was and all the different types of filters there were. It was also quite amusing watching this old fox out smart these novice hunters and I swear at times he actually played with them taking fowl right from under their noses. For me all I could do was watch as I did not have permission on that farm and so for two years all I could do was sit and watch and deal with the farm I was on. In fact I dealt with all his cubs and his vixens all who themselves were helping themselves to each farmers poultry.
Then one day old Fred who I shot for, was talking to Barry the farmer next door with Barry explaining how this big dog fox was the bain of his life, and had cost him literally thousands in lost stock and building what he thought was fox proof fencing. Of course it was not fox proof as I saw the fox go in and out of his fencing with the greatest of ease using the high wall as a ladder. So Fred told him of me and how I deal with the foxes, and how I get results time and time again and how I have very strict ground rules before I will consider dealing with a person’s problem foxes.
I got a call that very afternoon and was asked to pop over to Barry’s place, upon getting there I met a lovely fellow but one who was quite literally almost a broken man, due to this fox. Just by the tremble in his voice and the tear in his eye when he spoke of this fox, I knew he was very nearly a broken man. I reassured him and he signed the paper work that I require before I will take a gun out of its sling, and laid my ground rules down. He agreed without question as he could see I take everything very seriously and now that he had me on board I would not let anyone else shoot unless it went through me.
This is not because I am greedy or want everything for myself NO, It’s simply one being the danger issue as with rifles you don’t want just anyone wandering around, especially if you don’t know they are there and two it makes the job harder as in experienced hunters just educate the quarry and this alone makes the job in hand a hundred times harder.
Also for me communication is the key, with the land owners and indeed police comms always know when and where I will be, how long I intend to be there and what I am hunting and who is with me. Another rule I have both for myself and my shooting club the famous Woodspring Pigeon Shooting & Wildfowling Club, is no one shoots or hunts unless I am there or I specifically arrange it.
Again this comes down to the safety of everything and this is made very clear to every land owner and everyone who joins the club I sign up, If you want me and my team on board then these are my rules. Barry quickly agreed so all hunting shooting etc. On his land would go through me and anyone caught breaking my rules never gets a second chance as it’s my reputation on the line, and I have the highest of standards. Several have broken my rules and find very quickly I shut the doors and when they are just they stay shut.
Several over the years have tried the old, “oh Rob sent me down” and the farmers/landowners know if they have not spoken to me first and I had not arranged It, then these fellows are pulling a fast one and let’s say politely asked to leave, and well let’s just say they are not invited back again to shoot or hunt with the club or myself ever again.
I have heard all sorts of reason when people talk behind my back as to why they have been banned from hunting with me or the club all I will say on the matter is they stepped way over the line and I will not tolerate such behaviour in my club as we have enough people giving field sports a bad name as it is…
On with Barry’s farm it was agreed that very evening, that I would pop back and have a crack at this old Charlie. I already knew his every move where he came from how he got in and how he got out so a plan was hatched. My no1 son would be my lamp man and I would use a green filter as I had not seen a single person use this colour and the ambush point would be from the hay loft, as the others had not tried this and also gave me a perfect view from a perfect high seat position.
With a bale of hay as a steady gun rest, I placed out a dead goose from the night before pegged down with a fishing line, attached to a carp bait runner type alarm thing next to us. This was an idea from a game keeper mate from up in bonny Scotland he said it worked every time so in case this Wile old Charlie got under my radar I had a backup.
The scene was set and as the light dimmed a barn owl that was sat watching us from high up on the eves of this old barn, took flight for the evening hunting for voles and mice. I could hear the rats around me scrabbling over the beams, and on a different night they would be fair quarry but tonight we were here for the old Charlie fox. It seemed like hours but was only about 45mins, when I first heard the fowl get edgy so a very quick shine about, and there he was about three hundred meters out in the back field and coming in, so light off and we waited as we watched for the little red light on the fishing alarm to go off.
Actually in the dim light I could see the goose and saw the fox coming in, so I steadied myself took a breath as he got to the goose the red light flashed and No1 son hit the lamp on the fox, he did not react to the light but he was on that goose like a limpet on a rock, I took the shot and he dropped like a stone, I reloaded as I caught movement going back over the wall, told No1 Son have a shine and there was another one a hundred or so yards out I gave him a squeal with the Eddie Nash call the Gnasher, and he froze on the spot BOOOOOOOM and a shot to the engine room dropped him too. Let’s just say when I saw Barry I thought he was going to do a jig, as he shook his fist at the very dead big dog fox and cursed him with such anger, and the hatred he felt really was an eye opener for me. I love foxes and love to see them about but seeing that I understand even more so why these animals have to be controlled because it’s not just the lost stock etc.
’s also the emotional bits too and oh so much more, Let’s just say since I have taken over Managing Barry’s farm he no longer had a problem and indeed never lost much livestock to foxes etc., And as for the other shooters I have been training them The Ole Hedge Creepers way and they now have more success in their hunting trips. Well the next hunt I was called out to the free range chicken farm that yet again were having problems with a chap in a white van, dropping off town caught foxes.
Now this farmer and his son being both in my club did a pretty good job themselves, dealing with them but one fox in particular kept evading them and killing the hens. Now he wouldn’t just kill one, no he would kill thirty or so at a time and just take one. Now a farmer will accept the loss of one chicken to a fox a natural loss but to kill more and leave them then no farmer in the land will accept that.
Also again this fox was lamp shy as hell as this one had been chased from pillar to post by some inexperienced traveling running dog men, so as soon as even a street light went on it was off like a bolt of lightning, Nothing else for it this was the territory of the NS200 NV unit from Nite Site ( www.nitesite.co.uk ) and coupled that with my favourite fox stopper the Browning 243 lead injector with a 58grn ballistic tip Norma lead injection, I knew this would be a winning combo and cure this Chicken Thieving Charlie to his addiction to my friends free range hens. I got to the farm about an hour before dark as he had been known to come in early before dark, and with a limited amount of space to safely shoot with a good back stop I had to choose my position carefully.
I decided on my portable high seat erected up an old apple tree in the orchard opposite. This gave me a brilliant view of the entire field leading to the hen house but also meant every shot had a great back stop. So there I sit cold but content as the wind was blowing a holey, I did not have to wait too long as I heard the terrier from the house over the road barking and knew that signalled Charlie was about, so clicking up the NS200 I scanned the area I wanted to take him.
The farmer as I had requested put a dead hen out as bait, so I knew he would wind (smell) that no problem. Well like a moth to a flame he came straight to the bait none the wiser The Ole Hedge Creeper had the cross hairs on him and as he stopped to sniff the bait I squeezed the trigger BOOOOOOM and he dropped on the spot, lights out to a perfect lead aspirin administered to the engine room that cured this Chicken Thieving Charlie of his addiction to the farmers fowl.
Farmer came out and scratched his head saying I don’t know what it is mucker, you never fail to get the problem ones I just laughed and said perhaps I was a fox in a previous life, as we took down the high seat and disposed of the fox and went in for a well-deserved mug of tea and a slice of home baked cake.
Finally and most recently I was called out to a farm that again had foxes being dumped off there almost weekly, and indeed I had dealt with a lot of them but these two were really Wile. I had tried to get onto of them a couple of times and just could not get a safe shot.
Although I could of shot them several times the shot itself was not safe, so I did not take it for if it’s not 101% safe then the shot is not taken, as it says in the poem A Fathers Advice all the pheasants ever bred will not replace one man dead… So nothing else for it to bring in the terriers, I located the fox earth/s and my good friend Gerald came along with his Jack Russell Gyp.
As we walked down we can see one of the foxes go to earth, now bear in mind this earth is approx. one hundred meters from the hen house so as you can see a problem. The dog marked to say Charlie was at home but we did not need that confirmation but it’s good to let the dog do her entire roll it keeps her sharp.
So we laid the fox nets, I got off my good friend Chris Potter and introduced the dog almost right on cue, I could hear baying and my heart raced there is nothing more wonderful to the ear than a terrier in full voice, perhaps the hunt in full cry too but to this old terrier man nothing makes my heartbeat as fast as a terrier at full bay deep underground, I am the same when ferreting when the pugs (ferrets) make contact with the drummers(rabbits) deep underground and those Zulu drums of war beat through your very soul.
Also I see a lot of inexperienced terrier men make silly mistakes, like putting more than one terrier to ground this is wrong on so many levels and I have seen tunnels collapse or the dog behind rail road the front dog into the fox and that’s when the dog gets beat up. I have had countless run ins with these I will use this word loosely terrier men who think it’s big to have a hard dog to get beat up or get medals as they call it. I will tell you this you are bringing the skill of a true terrier man into bad light no dog man worth his salt wants his dog beat up, a true dog man has a terrier that boxes clever sits back bays and holds the fox were it is so it can be dug down to, and shot humanly and within the law I feel very passionate about this and was taught by some of the old school masters.
And I have never put a terrier to ground who does not box clever as it has to stay in top shape for the season, all this my dog is harder than your dog crap, all you are doing is giving bloody good terrier men a bad name so wise up. I see the same with the running dog men something else I am passionate about you don’t get your dog’s fit, so when out ferreting and a rabbit bolts the dog does not have the stamina to last a day’s ferreting and oh so much more I could write a book on both subjects and maybe I might.
Back to the day in Hand Gyp is baying well and seems to have stopped in one spot, so the digging started it was like trying to get through solid stone and eventually we got through to a maze of tunnels, there was Gyp but no fox she was baying up under a tree root that was un-di gable so with the light fading fast I made a prudent decision to pull the dog out and indeed saluted the fox as he had beaten us this day.
I know this a lot of the modern terrier men might not agree with but sometimes the fox wins and will have to deal with them another day, The one thing this earth was full off was the remains of the farmers hens so we knew this was the right earth.
A couple of nights later at dusk I returned with one of my young sports Josh who had never shot a fox before I knew we would see these foxes out on the big field, moussing as farmer had just that day cut the silage so I positioned Josh on the fox earth we had been digging, with his shotgun and said stand quiet against the tree, I will stalk round the yard and see if I can get one with the rifle and if they bolt for the safety of the set you nail them with the shotgun…
As I snook through the yard the old sheep dog on the rope wagged his tail at me so I gave him a pat on the head, and snook on around the stone barn to the old broken down stone wall next to a rusty gate leading to the back field. As I stealthily popped my head up between the top stones there they were sixty yards out moussing on the bank with a perfect back stop, I put the cross hairs on the engine room of the big dog fox and BOOOOOM, dropped him on the spot as he rolled back down the bank stone dead. The Vixen was off in a flash for the safety of the set I knew Josh would be ready after hearing the shot then a few moments later I heard the tale sign of a 12 bore Bang, Bang! As the phone went off and a very excited Josh saying I got a fox I got a fox…
The Farmer was more than happy as he laden my car with fresh eggs, bread, cheese and a couple of gallons of farm cider, as he was saying “You know what you are a crafty Hedge Creeper aren’t you.” I just laughed and said all in a day’s service to my landowners mucker as I left leaving a happy farmer saying he was going to have these mounted for me and Josh a young sport who had just bagged his first Chicken Thieving Charlie.
Well until next time Ava good un muckers and keep sending the letters and emails etc. Both Greg and I try to answer them all personally so if we have missed anyone I send our apologies as we get so many some may get lost. Out Foxing Charlie II By The Ole Hedge Creeper Aka: Rob Collins.