Countrymans Diary

Keepers Corner.


This time of year for me as a Gamekeeper/stalker on the Isle of Skye is a chance to look back at how the fox control has been up to now and review my tactics for the up and coming Red Stag season. I have more or less finished with lamping now as in the Hebrides it does not really get dark enough at this time of year. So now I make the most of this extra light and keep the Red Deer off the Crofts, the grass has been slow to grow this year so the deer have been slow to move off their winter grazing near the crofting townships, and this makes for some conflict with the crofters…

On the fox side of things, all went well. Not many killings during lambing time and most of the 60 plus dens I checked had no foxy residents. This shows that the effort put in during previous years has started to pay dividends, that’s not to say I did not have one or two adult foxes give me the run around though.

One fox springs to mind.

It is April and there is an Atlantic storm blowing outside,Just after 9;30 pm the telephone rings……

I had a call from a crofter who asked me if I could sort out a problem fox. He had gone out to check the Ewes and lambs and found one lamb had been taken. He then told me that as he was walking back to his house he spotted the suspected fox making its way to the shore line. No sooner had I put the phone down it rang out again, it was the neighbour to the crofter, she told me she had just seen a fox in the field with the lambs and again once spotted it made its way down to the shore.

So I got all my gear ready for that night. Night came and it saw me heading to the scene of the crime. I set myself up in a spot where the lamp would give me a 360 degree view. I started to scan around and no sooner had I started the light picked up a set of Wiley eyes. I got prone and took a look through the scope, unbelievable, the fox was sat out in the middle of the sheep, and these sheep did not care less about that fox being there. I waited a few minutes to see if the fox would move clear of the flock, 10 minutes later I could see it was a vixen but she still had not moved. So I decide to move myself around. No matter what position I moved too I still could not get a safe shot. Then after half an hour of moving around she got up and darted off to the shore line. So it was game on for the following night.

So again the next night saw me back to the area. This time as I scanned around with the lamp there was nothing to be seen, not even any sheep. The crofter had moved them up to the hill grazing, so that’s where I moved to. Scanning the area with the light again showed nothing, so I started to give a sequence of calls on my CR-1 Call from varmints inc, within five minutes I was greeted with the steely  glow of fox eyes. Again I got prone and watched the fox move down the hill to my death cry’s. I could see it was the vixen from the previous night. As she moved towards me something caught her attention, she looked back, then was off like a fur rocket back up the hill.

 As I looked on bewildered I soon saw the problem. The crofters collie had spotted my light and had come to investigate, unbeknown to me the collie had done a big loop around me and up the hill, the vixen had been spooked by it… “Round two to the fox”…

 So the third night came, I set out with the intention of covering all eventualities.  1, I had called the crofter to tell him to keep the dog inside. 2, I had decided on a different route for my approach. And 3, I had prayed to all gods of past and present to grant me as much luck as possible,,,lol…  So I departed from my truck and walked into the field with the lambs and ewes in, I flicked on the light and “BING”,,, there she was, sitting there on the hill side no more than 50 yards away. For the third time that week I lined her up in the scope, I placed the crosshair on her chest and sent her a lead message, she crumpled up and rolled down the hill a little. After all the messing about the previous nights, this all happened within the space of 5 minutes.  This is why I love this sport, you never know how things will play out…

The caller Scott uses is from here.


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