This year has been an exceptional one for me for foxes. Ihad a previous years best of 72 but as of early November I had got to 90 forthis year. This meant that I was dearly tempted to try and reach the 100 markfor the year, even though it is an arbitrary figure. I also signed up for ascheme to send foxes to DERA to test for Trichinella.
Bear in mind I have been 4 months of the winter in the pastwithout shooting a fox (not for lack of trying!!) so a target of 10 in 2 monthsis not a given. Putting the dual pressures of a target and a promise to supplymeant I felt as if I could have jinxed myself before I started. Another problemis I go out once per week unless the missus is away and she is only due to beaway 10 days before the year end when I will be at home so time is also apressure!
I went 3 weeks without shooting a fox in early November andthe weather has been pants. I made a trip to Essex at the weekend and managed afox so at least I felt as if I had made a start. We then went out Sunday andalthough we saw a fox on the moor it wouldn’t play ball so we will have to goback for it. Monday was then a complete washout but the forecast for the restof the week was good.
I planned to stalk Tues evening but a meeting overran and itwas dark before I got going. As a fall back I dropped down to a mates farm. Hehas had a fox shouting most evenings but couldn’t get her into range. As I setup it started to throw heavy showers. I hate getting my NV wet so I retired toa building overlooking a pasture she was often seen in. 20 minutes later, justafter a heavy cloudburst, a fox appeared through the hedge and started towardsme. At 250m it turned to cross the field. A squeak stopped it but it didn’t looklike coming. I chanced the shot, a chance due to the cross wind, and shedropped on the spot. I collected her and found that although I had aimed forher chest broadside the shot had taken her in the neck. A bit of luck!!!
I told the farmer and then set off to visit the chicken farm.He has had problems and I had been unable to even get sight of the culprit on 3previous visits. As I drove I remembered we had seen a fox on a permission onthe way. It had been out of range down by the river, I figured with thehorrendous floods it wouldn’t be down there now. A couple of quick calls to letthe owners know I would be about and I was there. An added bonus was that thereare turkey sheds there and they had just emptied them. This meant I could usethe lamp for spotting and the NV for shooting. They don’t like us using a lampnear sheds with mature birds in them normally. As soon as I arrived I realisedthe flooding was much worse than I expected.
Within 400m I saw eyes and spotted a fox paddling in areally boggy field. It seemed unconcerned so I set up. It then moved out ofview. I moved the vehicle and it went back to where it was!! I went back andthe shot put it down. When I went to pick it I was above my boot tops in sloppymud and water. It became apparent that there was flood water across half thefield so the fox had been somewhat cut off!!
The showers kept coming so I had to stop and start regularlybut this permission has a hard road all round it so I could stay close to thetruck.
A few hundred metres further on there were more eyes. Thisfox started to come to the call but thought better of it and set off away fromme. I sped round the track to cut it off but although I saw it again it was outof range and it slipped away.
As I completed my lap I saw some eyes in a field that hadbeen fodder beet 3 days ago. It had been lifted. The fox was skirting the fieldmargin but the wind was again a factor. I aimed further back this time and thefox vanished but I heard no impact. I left it as I thought the missing foxmight be in front of me. It turned out it was and I caught it out in a muddyfield again. Once more there was water to its back and it seemed trapped,allowing me to get the shot away. Another one down!! This one I couldn’t retrieveas I was unable to wade safely through the quagmire!!! I went back to theprevious one and found it stone dead by the hedge. 233m so another good “lucky”shot.
It was now 11pm and I still hadn’t got to the chicken farm.As I was leaving I saw one last set of eyes but this fox was not for staying. SoI thought I had one on there and I still had, having shot 3!!
The chicken farm also has a beck running through it so I waspretty positive going there given the success I had enjoyed already. I have towalk the chicken farm and here I got my next lucky break. The weather clearedout, it was cold but so what?! It turned out the flooding here was pretty badtoo and it was a concern it would be keeping the foxes off the property ratherthe=an penning them on. I quickly realised I would not be walking far as thewater was everywhere. The chicken sheds occupy the high ground so a half milewalk would let me see everywhere I could get to. The first half of the farmshowed nothing but a few drowned hens. I wondered if any foxes would have beenand gone with such easy pickings.
At the back of the buildings I set up and scanned with myLongbow, I could easily see 400m but there were only sheep. Then, as if bymagic, a fox stood up from under a bush at the streams edge. It just sat andlooked at me. At 80m it was a gimme and down it went. It was a big fat dog fox.This was a real result as its none appearance for the previous few weeks hadbeen a real frustration.
I decided that was it for the night, I slung the rifle overboth shoulders and set off dragging the fox. I was now using my torch so as notto slip in the chicken **** quagmire. The next field had been fodder beet butnow had sheep in. As I slipped and slid through it I saw eyes on the brow of asmall rise in my torch. Surely not! I dropped the dog, reorganised my rifle andsticks and walked forward for a look. There was a small vixen, broadside andtotally unaware. This was even closer, probably 60m and down she went.
So 6 in the night, annual tally to 98 and all on a night Iwould not normally of even set out on due to weather. It is almost December andyet it was like shooting cubs!! I can only assume that the floods haddisorientated the foxes and the two crops having gone had removed other cover.I also wonder if they were more careless as they don’t expect to be lamped inshitty conditions? Otherwise I can just presume I was bloody lucky, so what? I’lltake that any time.
So my depression has lifted and my 100 is definitely on now.I will also remember this and try to exploit floods again in the future. Haveany of you had any benefit from the floods rather than the obvious miseries?