Out foxing Charlie 3.
Blimey here we are in Out Foxing Charlie No3! It only seemed like last week I wrote No1 let alone No II, and still they are massive hit worldwide with all of you. So here goes as requested from your hundreds of positive emails and letters to The Countryman’s Diary Offices asking for this article. Remember in the first Out Foxing Charlie, I wrote I only deal with problem foxes, well that’s true but for me these damned town foxes that are being dumped off really are beginning to get me irritated… Why I hear you ask? Well it’s not so much the foxes but the people dumping them off, all be it they think they are doing it for the good of the fox, but quite simply they are not. For me this is animal cruelty in its purest form, dumping an animal that does not know how to hunt and watching it starve to death or fall foul to the elements, etc. It would be like dumping you in the middle of the dessert and asking you to live, how can this be anything but animal cruelty and these people should hang their heads in shame…
In recent months in my area the upsurge in fox dumping, has gained in its regularity and I have humanly dispatched a great number of foxes, with no tails, eyes and ears missing being surgically operated on, broken limbs fixed or amputated,to even being neutered. I am now going to start taking photos of these poor animals, and the ones with mange, well my heart breaks for them… You see I love the fox and think it’s very important to have them about, to balance the ecosystem of a farm etc. And love nothing better than shooting them with a camera instead of the gun, just like my deer management. That is until they (the fox) become a problem for the landowners and start attacking the valuable livestock etc. So you never know in out Foxing Charlie 4, there may be some not so nice images of these poor animals that should have been humanely destroyed long before I have to do it. Long before they are released into the desert to die a long horrible death of starvation etc. Or With a swift hand (shot) I have to do it I often say a little prayer over them as my way of saying sorry I did not find you sooner and put you out of your misery.
I was called out to a chicken farm just recently, as a fox still in good condition had been dropped off right next to the free range field it was witnessed by a dog walker and a fellow in a white transit type van releasing it out of the side door of the van, She called the farmer who called me but I was away at a game fair so could not get there for a day or two. That farm was a fox attack free zone for months, but within 24 hours they had been attacked, with well over 40 free range hens left dead on the floor. Now I have said this before a fox taking one hen, well a farmer accepts that as a natural loss but over 40 and take one, than no farmer in the land will accept that. So by the time I got there a couple of days later, the farmer’s son had been out on fox patrol day and night with a shotgun and a lamp, and had taken pot shots at the fox. Now I can’t blame them for that they were protecting their livestock and keeping him away, but still the flock was attacked and a great many more hen’s were lost as you can’t be there 24hrs a day. This also made my job a hell of a lot more difficult as using a lamp was no longer an option.
I still love to lamp traditionally, but like I say it was not an option here as the fox was educated to what a lamp was, and was gone in a flash of its brush so nothing else for it but use the simply amazing NS200 NV Unit from NiteSite. With my favourite combo of Browning 243 lead injector with a 58grn Norma balistic tip lead injection that should cure this chicken theiving Charlie, of his addiction to my farmers free range hens, I know I have raved on about this gear before, but quite simply for me it does what it says on the tin, and other NV units screw my eyes up and I can’t see after using it, but the NS200 for me is quite simply the best and has The Ole Hedge Creepers seal of approval or a thumbs up as I call it, I telle boys that’s not easily earned get one for yourself and see what I mean as it has revolutionized a lot of my shooting on lamp shy Charlie’s (foxes) I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. Well I got to the farm and climbed up on my high seat and waited, as the light fell a tawny owl landed in the tree above me, and looked down as if to say get out of my tree.The Farmer had not been in to pen up yet as he was inside sorting eggs, this was when I first heard the magpies calling their warning signal, so I turned on the night vision and had a scan around. Bloody hell Charlie Fox was sat fifty yards away on the end of the big hen house just watching the fowl his white beard unmistakable so I lined up the cross hair as and as I was about to whisper good night he got up and started walking the electric fence? Bugger he was in a place now that was not a safe shot, so I had to wait and watch him and I thought to myself if he takes a hen now and I can’t shoot. The Farmer will never let me hear the end of it. So on I watched as I saw him climb up, on the high mound of chicken poop and jump the electric fence into the hens. Now that was a mistake on his part as now I had the perfect back stop so as his feet hit the floor I gave him a squeek he froze and I administered a lead asprin right into the engine room, and said good night sweetheart. Also it gave me a chance to tell the farmer to either move the fence or the pile of chicken poop as that’s how the foxes had been getting in. The farmer came as he had heard the shot, I told him what happened and about the poop etc. upon inspection this fine dog fox had been neutered bloody shame he was in good condition but for how long? As if it were not for farmer’s hens he would have starved to death too over the coming months, one Farmer was happy and so was I as it was dealt with it humanely efficiently and professionally and not having an animal suffer. Next farmer called to say they were cutting the maize and could I get the boys in from the shooting club as fox attacks were happening all round the farmer’s neighbours hens,ducks and geese going and the foxes were seen running back into this certain piece of maize with their kills Right’ Oh. The call went around the club lads but alas most of the club were away on holidays or working etc. So just me and my Young Emilie my daughter could go help on this fine October Saturday. We got into position on the end of the run,the farmer knows his stuff and would beep his horn if he saw a fox, and cut the field towards us in a way so it drove the foxes to us. With any luck we had done this before and it worked so thought lets do it again now Emilie with her 410 was there to shoot the rabbits and pigeons etc. and my job the foxes,the forager started rolling and cut this field into a sort of square now it was set, if the chicken thieving Charlie was in there we had a chance of getting him as farmer drove him towards us. Well for the first hour or so it was rabbits and pigeons, and if I say so myself Emilie is a chip off The Ole Hedge Creepers Block, taking rabbits and pigeons and even a couple of jackdaws with her .410 in fine style I might add. Then she says Dad I just saw a fox hop back in about 60 yards up the line, ahhhhh she has the eyes of a hawk but I had already seen him, and was ready with the side by side with 36grams of no3. shot waiting for him. As the farmer swang the forager round to do a cut towards us, actually he only had about three runs left to cut so it was now or never if we were going get this fox. As a farmer came towards us about 90 yards out, he was beeping his horn and pointing like my old headmaster ( YOU BOY ) I knew Charlie was on his way, and I was ready for him. He burst from cover 30 yards out from left to right in full leap, I bowled him over with the first barrel, he looked like he had run into a wall and bugger me he got back up and ran back towards the standing maize, so I bowled him over again with the second barrel just as he crashed into the maize. I could not get him straight away as the forager was almost there, so had to wait as I questioned myself did I get him? Was he dead I could not have missed, as well as Emilie is saying you sure you got him Daddy? You know sometimes you question what you know well I do anyway but thankfully there he was stone dead just where I dropped him with the second barrel god know how he got up from that first shot but adrenaline I suppose. The Farmer came out after the last cut to say thank god you got him, my neighbours were doing my nut in, calling all the time about fox attack’s at least now the maize is cut and I can tell them you got the fox. Oh and Mrs Farmer says you better come for tea as we have that goose you shot and apple crumble and custard, for afters and bring yer young un. The Mrs has a treat for her too, The treat being a family cook book, of cakes and all things nice. I do love helping out my farmers as we are friends, as much as anything else and friends always look after each other eh, well that’s the country boy way anyway and how I was taught. The following week I was called out to another of my farmer friends, who was having trouble with a pair of foxes attacking his racing pigeons, of all things they had got in and killed his prize winning cock-bird and lets say farmer was angry to say the least. I have seen a hatred for foxes many times, and usually because they had killed a pet or something of the like, when a fox ran off with a friend’s kitten. You know that lady used to be anti everything and now is completely the opposite and understands why I/we do what we do as there is a balance in nature, that some times we have to help find or as another writer said to me recently “its like cogs in a machine they all have to be a certain size for the machine to work.” I liked that saying and for me that hit home how we try to keep the machine working. Again this night my right hand man well girl was my Daughter Emilie, and I telle for 11 years old she knows how to work a lamp none of this Darth Vader Battleing Luke Sky Walker nonsense. No she has been taught properly just like her brother and sister before her you won’t see a disco when my girl is on the lamp, blimey she is not backwards in coming forwards if anyone takes her place for a night, and does not do it right blimey god help the husband she chooses when she is older. I telle Its not getting my blessing he will have to worry about either as not only can she shoot she knows Judo too and has a tounge as sharp as my skinning knife that’s my girl I taught well… We also had a report this pair of foxes had been hanging around the sheep fields, and a Ewe had been attacked so we walked out into this moonless cloudy night, with a nice wind my Emilie on the lamp me on the gun, and farmers son following to show us where the attacks had been taking place, Emilie scanned a quick scan and a set of fox eyes were spotted at the end of the sheep field so lamp off. I said to Emilie give a squeal on the Gnasher call From Eddie Nash who runs Lamping foxes as she is far better at calling on that than me.
A few squeels later, lamp on and there he was coming in good and fast, but not just one but two foxes coming in, blimey lets hope the hunting gods bless me here. So I steadied myself on a fence post and said light on girl, There was the first not 40 yards out so I gave him a lead asprin to the engine room thump! And down he went with a 243 hammer, Bugger me the other one stopped about a hundred yards out, I was going to take a shot when Emilie said I will give him a squeal Dad, I swear that girl is the pied piper of fox calling bugger me he only started running in on the beam, to the call I had to shout Oi, to stop him boom and down he went as the 243 hammer dropped him on the spot not ten yards from his mate. Well to say farmer was chuffed was an understatement, as he shook his fist at this pair and saying something about a pigeon or something. I just made the gun safe as Emilie gave me a massive hug and says we make a good team don’t we Daddy. I think the lump in my throat was a fly I swallowed or something as I said yes we do girl yes we do indeed…. I hope you have enjoyed reading this and please keep the letters and emails coming Greg and I try as best we can to answer you all but bear with us guys and gals. Out Foxing Charlie IIII By Rob Collins. Aka: The Ole Hedge Creeper. Pic1: Me and farmer with a neutered dog fox Pic2: Emilie with her pigeon Pic3: Me with the fox shot with a shotgun Pic4: Emilie Lamping for me Pic: 5 Emilie with one of the foxes and farmer holding it up for her Pic6: The pair of foxes from the sheep field who ate the prize pigeon