A great day today. I cooked venison cottage pie (more of my first deer - fallow buck, shot in October) to a Gordon Ramsey recipe for dinner and was delighted to find went down a storm with our friends, their kids and ours. Combined with a venison medallions on a bed of wild mushrooms recipe cooked for my 40th birthday a few months back, thatís two recipes in the bag and confidence on the up in advance of DSC1 next month (hoping to secure the stalking rights on my permission once 'qualified'). My shooting buddy and I then popped out for a first attempt at lamping.
We agreed a plan and stepped into the first field. The plan promptly gave way to a furious next half hour which led us in a completely different direction to what we had planned. A number of sets of eyes shone in the lamps, including two rabbits and the unmistakable front-on double eyes of a fox. Popping the .243 up onto the sticks, the view through the scope confirmed, at a distance of approximately 100 yds. After unsuccessfully composing oneself, the heart going like the clappers, I loosed the first round. A resounding thwack confirmed a solid hit, but not seeing the strike given the recoil and smoke/steam in the cold still night air, I was disappointed to find on making my way over, that it hadn't been a clean shot. After a thorough search including two neighbouring fields, we had to give that fox up as lost.
Over the next few fields I was amazed at the number of foxes seen (at least half a dozen). All at some distance and none responding to calls. My buddy bagged a rabbit with his .22, but I was fast thinking that a confirmed first fox with a rifle was not going to be tonight. However, the lamp picked up another set of eyes ~180 yds away just inside a hedge which the scope again confirmed as a fox. Now very steady and calm, aiming in the centre of the chest and knowing the shot would fall pretty much centre of the cross-hairs (with plenty of margin for error up or down should I have mistaken the range), a gentle squeeze and another solid strike. This time making my way over, I was delighted to find the fox (a very good condition vixen) had dropped on the spot, the round hitting squarely in the chest right on the point of aim. My first fox since three with the 12-bore over two decades ago.
We decided to make our way across one last large field making our way back towards the car. A stretch of woodland presented another set of eye, but too far away and again no response to either fox caller, other than something making a squeal in reply. Almost to the edge of the field we gave it one last scan and my buddy picked up another set of fox eyes just 50 yds away, again just inside a hedge. Rifle onto sticks and scope picture confirmed another fox and another gentle squeeze was rewarded with another solid strike although I must have pulled the shot slightly as it fell low and the fox did a runner. On catching up with it 30-yds into the next field, I was amazed to find it had made it that way with half its stomach hanging out. However, number two in the bag and this time a bigger and even smellier Dog fox. Now I was very much regretting forgetting the game bag and leaving the camera in the car, the carry back proving quite exhausting
A cracking night, much learned and looking forward to going back for the others over the coming months.