I had some new ground given a few months back that I had nearly had a couple of times before. The ground is about 1000 acres of arable and woodland mixed. It is held by a shoot and one of the members was doing the lamping. However, his wife hunts and there seemed to be a lack of results on the fox front. They had suffered losses at release time and now, to add insult to injury, they were seeing a fox in one of the woods every time they shot it and it wouldnt flush to the guns. They had already tried a fox drive and it still wouldnt flush. They lost patience and finally decided to get me to help regardless of wether the guy took it badly or not. This was back in late October.
Within the 1st 10 minutes of my first visit I shot a young dog just outside the wood in question! RESULT!!! Well, actually no, the fox i was after was seen running among the beaters on the next shoot day!! I went back 3 times more and shot another dog, but a long way from the wood in question. I also saw another but couldnt get close. To make matters worse I was not very well and away with work twice before xmas. So 2 months and 2 foxes and yet the guy looking after the pheasants was still seeing the problem one. I had tried calling and also waiting and watching and we started discussing baiting but I couldnt figure a way of getting the damn thing out of the wood so I could shoot it.
Things were exacerbated by regular comments from the shoot members of "theres plenty about" etc, although this generally meant 1 or 2 had been seen on a shoot day.
Then a real crisis. The "keeper" saw the vixen and had 2 other foxes barking near him on a sunday afternoon!!! I was feeling the pressure and as they were friends of my chicken farm man I could not afford to let things get much worse ( I have SOME pride!!)
I decided that as I hadnt seen a fox in the lamp they were either else where or in the trees at the time I was going. I also decided that the fact dogs were now attendant on the vixen meant that perhaps the dog and vixen call might work.
So last Saturday I got up at 4am and set off. I was hoping one of the following would apply;
I would either be able to catch them out due to a very different time of day to usual
I would catch then coming back to the cover if they were out and about
I would be able to call them at mating time with mating calls.
I spent the first hour "lamping" surrounding areas but although I could smell a fox I didnt see anything. I was getting bored so I went to the offending wood. There is a small lane and as I walked down it I used the thermal to scan either side. Immediately I saw a fox working the next hedge towards me. I set up on the verge on me sticks and switched on the IR. The fox was onto me in that instant and turned to back from whence he had come. I moved my feet to track him and fell off the verge!! I quickly reset but now couoldnt see for IR glare from hedge top twigs. Another hasty reset and I could see him gathering speed and still going away. I whistled but he kept going so i shouted, he paused but by now I had moved some more and was out of balance. I knew this was **** or bust so as the cross hairs were on him I shot! My gut feel was I had missed but my ears were telling me it was a hit. The thermal suggested something was laid in the hedge. I acually considered it might be a rabbit so I went to check. To my amazement there was a big dog fox, dead as a tick. I actually think he might have walked into the shot!! (I'll take the lucky ones thanks)
I carried him back to the roadside and then scanned around me. To my further astonishment a fox was sitting under a tree about 140m away watching me with casual interest. As I watched it it washed itself and glanced at some sheep that werent too keen on its presence.
Straight back on the sticks and a quick shot, this time feeling certain, and the vixen was down. 2 in 10 minuted and still before 5.30am!! I am hoping the vixen is the fox that was being seen as it had demonstrated confidence around people when it believed it was safe and that was certainly the downfall of this one!!
A nice pair;
I hung on for 10 minutes more but couldnt imagine anything else would be daft enough to hang about so I went to Maccy D's for a coffee!!!
At least for now I feel as if honour was satisfied and my reputation restored, hopefully I wont get a phone call on Sunday saying the fox is still there!!!!!!!