By The Ole Hedge Creeper.
Well here we are Out Foxing charlie part 12, who would of guessed when I wrote the first one so many years ago we would still be writing about this subject, I have not written for a little while about ole Charlie, not because I have not been out dealing with them, quite simply if you had read my last article I have literally been FLAT OUT LIKE A LIZARD DRINKING excuse the pun.
I said right at the start in my first fox article I only deal with problem foxes, ie those that attack live stock or pets etc, I DO NOT kill FOXES!!! just because they are foxes, this attitude so many of you have if its RED ITS DEAD!!! completely goes against everything I was taught as a Countryman of The Ole School.
When I lecture at college I call it my cogs in the machine lecture, I refer to myself as the Countryside Engineer and explain to the class that my job is to keep the cogs the right size and the machine well greased and running to the best of its ability, when I say cogs I mean every species under mother natures canopy from insects to plants trees and birds and animals so that the entire machine runs without breaking down, you see every cog has its correct size some bigger than others but each is as vital in its role within the machine, so if a cog gets to big too small broken etc its my job to fix it as is yours on your area of your machines, as Countrymen/Pest Controllers etc we have a bigger responsibility than you realize to making sure not only does our respective machines in our areas function but function well and help find a balance, so all of you remember this every life is sacred under gods canopy but if you do have to take a life or lives it must be for the right reasons not just because If It Red Its Dead.
Now that said I probably humanly dispatch more vermin including foxes than most, but everything I cull has always got a very good reason for doing so, its either attacking stock crops or pets etc, many of you know I am a professional pest controller and live to an old Countryman’s code, I also proudly say I don’t use any poisons unless absolutely necessary and under very strict conditions my own being much stricter than industry standards, Foxes its good to have foxes about but in the right size cog, if the cog gets too big then a proper culling is whats needed, I don’t just pull up and shoot a fox way before I even take a gun or live trap to a situation I study it, I try to work out how many foxes are on that farm etc, is it one fox causing a problem or more.
There is a whole list of things I have to tick off before I start a culling Programme to find the balance in that farms machine, obviously if its attacking right there in front of me or wipes out a chicken flock etc, then I have no choice but I still go through my list, now that coupled with these morons catching foxes in our towns and cities and taking them out to the countryside releasing them, they are not being kind to these animals they are putting them through unnecessary suffering and what I would call animal cruelty, I will pic up on this a little later in this article, my wish for those monstrous animal abusers are this, I wish the fleas of a 1000 camels would infest your genitals and your arms be too short to scratch, for one thing I cannot bear or allow is any form of animal cruelty and this comes in many forms I telle.
Well my bit of a rant over lets rock on with the article, I got called out by one of my oldest agricultural contracts, now with most of my rabbit work being down by 70% over the last couple of years, you see Mixy has hit hard and so has RHD and in most areas we now have no rabbits because of those ghastly diseases, Farmer calls to say we have a great deal of rabbits here and they are eating more grass than my sheep can I come thin them out a bit please, also we have a fox attaching the prize fowl its not scared of humans and coming into the farm yard daily.
I agreed I would be down that very night, now knowing this farm the way I do a quick look around told me all I needed to know, I worked out how many rabbits I was happy to take this evening and saw the fox skulking around the orchard trying to stalk in on the farmers prize Guinea fowl, just by watching it I knew that was no country fox, it had no clue how to hunt it walked right past a rabbit bolt upright following the fowl, I zipped to the truck got my trigger sticks and my 243 lined the fox up shouted hey, the fox took a step towards me just looking at me, so a quick lead aspirin to the engine room and the fox was dispatched with a perfect heart and lung shot at the bottom of the big bank, upon inspection I could see a well healed scar that looked like it had an operation as the fur was still shaved shorter than the rest of its body, so from this and its behavior I ascertained it to be yet another town released fox, I went on that evening to shoot several rabbits I could of shot more but like I say its about finding the balance not eradication, farmer was more than happy with my efforts rewarding me with a bonus bottle of gin to have on a night off if I ever get one.
Several jobs later I was back out on foxes again, this time on a new contract, the lambing fields and even the lambing barn was getting hit both day and night with fox attacks, this farmer was losing lambs at an alarming rate, of course all the usual people had been out both with lamp and night vision and some rough ole boys had poached the area with running dogs too, all of them not catching one fox but lit up the night sky like it was a disco with their lamps or as I would say Luke Sky Walker and Darth Vader having a light saber duel, so all they did was make my job a hundred times harder.
The farmer signed the necessary paper work and contracts and I went about my check list, I saw one fox in the middle of day just strutting around, he took one look at me and slowly meandered off, I tracked farm by day light and worked out a picture of where these foxes were coming in from and indeed their escape routes, I also installed a set of live cage traps and baited them with what was left from the lambs that had been killed by the foxes.
I set up on this first night in the gate way that lead from the lambing field to the barn, as always I tried my Night Master Venom green pill mounted on the rifle, you see I like to try old school first then move over to the awesome NiteSite Night Vision system when really needed, I find this system works really well for me, I have always maintained to be any good using night vision you must learn the old skills of the lamp first with all its field craft and understand your quarry too.
I heard a fox bark way out in the distance so I knew they were about, my sixth sense went off with that feeling a fox was close by, I flicked on the Venom and scanned the field in front of me and there 65 yards out was a big dog fox just looking at me, I squeezed the shot off and administered a lead aspirin to the engine room, I quickly scanned about and saw four more sets of fox eyes but they were not coming in at all that night as I had just put the lights out on one of their mates, farmer was over the moon with my efforts cursing the dead fox.
I returned 2 nights later in the freezing cold, all I will say is thank god for my Jack Pyke Clothing its kept me warm and dry as it was well below freezing this night, I decided to use some of my IR glow sticks, one to put were a safe shot area was and to mark areas of fox activity, as always I had the NiteSite Eagle Rtec Mounted on the rifle with the NiteSite Spotter for searching out Charlie, I set my position this time up high on some hay bales one to disguise my scent from ground level and two so I had a nice down wards shot in case the foxes came from the small field to my right as there were horses in there I felt this to be a much safer shot, although the foxes came in they stayed just beyond what I considered a safe shot, again here is were a novice would have probably taken the shot, for the foxes were well withing killing distance but upon evaluating each shot I was not 101% happy of the safety of each shot presented, again this is probably were I have over strict in my execution of each shot, but its better to try another day than something go wrong, this night I tried everything to get them to come in even resorting to my GC550 Ico tech caller from Best Fox Call, they did not want to know at all knowing something was not right.
Indeed the next night I tried the old NiteSite Wolf on its lowest setting again from the gate way pointing towards the big bank that runs along the back of the lambing field, the foxes seem to like coming along that bank coming round on the wind scenting whats in front of them, I had second guessed right and fox no1 came right in I stayed as silent as the grave and still as a ripple less pond, he came right in to forty yards stopped for a pee and lights out Charlie, I heard a rustle to my right so I span round the NiteSite catching a foxes brush disappearing across the field, I stayed on him he crossed over a ditch and started up the high bank, I barked at him he stopped half way up a perfect back stop against the high bank, he was close to 200 yards but giving me enough time to take a steady aim off of my trigger sticks, again a perfect engine room shot as the fox rolled down the high embankment, I retrieved the first fox and went to find fox no2 but alas I could not find a safe way across the deep ditch in the dark, farmer retrieved it the next morning for me, his exact words were you always shoot them in the same spot my son and I had a bet you would and I won by the way he said you would do a head shot, nope always and and engine room shot if I can, I am the same with deer I don’t take head shots always an engine room shot, its not that I lack the skills of the marksman to be able to do it, but a head moves the engine room does not and I have seen others make the mistake on head shots on fox and deer so not me captain engine room every time unless dispatching a fox in a cage trap that is.
I was called back a few weeks later foxes attacking the piglets and the ducks and chickens can I come take a look, I had caught some in the cage traps there but these ones were avoiding the traps and going straight in for the kill, he lost 2 piglets and 11 ducks one night, again these foxes had no fear of man and I had reports of the white van man releasing foxes in the area again.
So I set up in my old gate way again my theory here is the foxes use this area as a crossing point, the prevailing wind normally a N Easterly takes my scent away and me with my back against a post I just look like a fence post in the dark, This time I heard a vixen calling and then my 6th sense went off again, turning the NiteSite Eagle on at the ready to shoot there was a huge dog fox just sitting watching me 60 yards out in front a text book shot as I was about to pull the trigger a second set of eyes appeared, I steadied myself and took the first fox, the other in the confusion just froze I re loaded the gun as I always have 2 shots in bang and had that one as well literally a right and left as fast I could load, that does not happen that way normally and these were 2 big healthy dog foxes, no wonder they were taking piglets as when I saw the first one I thought it was a German Sheppard for a moment his main looked that big on the NiteSite, again the farmer was very happy with my efforts, his son came out and said thank god you got that pair they have destroyed my ducks.
I got called back later that week as there was a fox in one of my live traps, farmer checks them for me in the morning and evening to save me going there all the time, I hate dealing with foxes at this time of year as they may have cubs, but when they attack the live stock I am left with no choice, I always say I am a Countryman of the old school first and a professional pest controller second, I dealt with her with a single shot from the rifle to the head and the rest is history as they say, shame really she was a pretty little fox, but the lamb that was left that she killed was her undoing as the bait.
I got a frantic call from one of my free range poultry farms, they had left me a voice mail with a come as fast as you can we don’t know how much longer we can fend this fox off, I missed their call as the phone was in my truck as I was in a grain mill dealing with a feral pigeon infestation, I got to the poultry farm as fast as I could after flying home to get a shot gun and a rifle.
As I pulled in the farm manager came rushing over, thank god your hear this fox is causing havoc, I grabbed the shot gun loaded up with 42g of no3 shot and followed the farm manager out to the free range paddocks, there it was playing a game of catch the chicken with two of the farm hands armed with sweeping brushes fending the fox off, it really was a funny sight to see, the fox actually looked like it was enjoying itself playing a game with these men, after composing myself I walked forward told the boys to back off and bowled her over with one barrel stone dead, I mean she could of ran away there was nothing stopping her she showed no fear of man at all, again upon inspection it was another that had an operation scar, yet again a town caught fox, I really do dislike these people doing this and if I catch them I will have them arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law for animal cruelty and more.
Well I hope you have enjoyed reading this as much as I have writing it, but please remember what I said at the start, only deal with problem foxes for they have their place here under mother natures canopy.
As it used to say on the inside cover of The Shooting times from when I was a boy, King George VI wrote The Wildlife Of Today, is not ours to dispose of as we please, we have in trust and must account for it to those that come after us.
Out Foxing Charlie 12
By The Ole Hedge Creeper