I have been shooting for over forty years that count. The ones before that were with air weapons of various shorts, then at fifteen yearsof age I had my first shotgun and bought my first box of cartridges for foxing.I say foxing as if it was a definite plan and they were the quarry we were after. Actually I bought a box of Eley, high velocity, plastic cased BB and they were on the off chance that I ever happened by a fox. I know exactly what they were as I still have a few left.
A school friend lived on a farm and a fox had raided their poultry pens two nights running. He mentioned at lunch in the school canteen, we were both 5th years then, what had happened and that he was off to the gun shop for some big cartridges that night straight from school. I said I had some BB and would have them for ages did he want a few of them at cost. So a deal was done. I brought them in the next day.I don’t know what would be said about that today, pupils bringing live ammunition to school, it seemed a natural thing then. Today we would probably be surrounded by a police tactical fire arms unit if one fell out of a pocket on the school bus. He had three, a full load for his bolt action Savage. He sat upfor two nights and eventually the fox turned up. A safe shot was on and he raised the gun and fired. Except there was no bang. It was a miss fire. I was not his favourite person for quite some time. The others so far have all gone off fine so may be it was just a rogue or his firing pin was light, who knows. I felt payment might be unreasonable I think he felt the same way.While I was out shooting a fox was very rarely seen and never within shooting range. Until on summers day a friend and I approached a ravine holding a badger set where I had often put down my gun and sat on the grass in the last light and watched the badgers come out and the young wouldplay around like puppies while a parent often more circumspect watched on from the set entrance. These games would often come to an end as they moved downwind of me, got the scent and pelted back to the entrance. Today I was saying I was not sure the holes were all badger as some were smaller and did not have the classic fan of earth in front of them and I wondered if they were fox. “I am sure they are” he said as we quietly approached “Oh good” I said “Why is that” he nodded his head and I looked and sat on top of one of the entrances was a fox. I was so surprised, there was no chance of a shot the range was short less than thirty yards but I was loaded with no.6 and it was off smartish anyway. I had never seen a fox in the rural environment so close before.
Working in Derby we stopped in Chaddesden one night and I got out of the vehicle and as I walked round the back thought I saw a dog outof the corner of my eye. But as I turned I saw it was a fox. I thought it wouldsoon run off as I moved about but not the urban Charlie. It sat watching me get the gear out of the ambulance and I slammed the door it had seen it all before,and didn’t turn a hair. When I started on the Ambulance Service thirty odd years ago it was rare to see a fox during the night as we drove about north Derbyshire. Now that is not the case it a common site and sometimes we see three in a night. I think there are many more about.
While out on my first deer stalking trip in Lincolnshire a fox was crossing the field below us, it was close to the hedge and we discussed whether it was a safe shot or not. The basis of the permission wasthat all foxes would be shot and took preference over the stalking opportunities should there ever be a conflict. We decided a shot was not on,there was a house in line of fire, although well above the line of shot, verywell above it could be alarming for any resident watching through binoculars and a centre fire rifle is very loud.
However shortly we noticed the fox had circled roundbehind us and was crossing the field in the opposite direction. My mentor said “safe shot yes or no,”” yes “I said and he fired. The field was dry and ploughed a puff of dust kicked up just over the back of the fox. He had slipped up his sticks aimed and fired, I hadn’t even thought about getting ready for a shot.Idea’s needed bucking up. The fox took off as if jet propelled.
On another evening stalk on the same ground a year later we emerged slowly from the edge of a wood and Steve saw some movement ahead. Itwas too far to identify with the naked eye. He glassed it and said
“It’s a Fox mate. Put your sticks up.” I put up the sticks on the firm track, which stretched straight as a die away across the field for hundreds of yards. I put up my rifle, a Parker Hale .270 loaded witha home load, Barnes 130gr brass hollow point. Through the scope I could see thefox. I was comfortable the rifle felt right and I had shot my first deer withthe same set up that morning. The fox mooched about the track sniffing at thegrasses on the edge of the track. Steve said
” It’s a long way, I’ll try and squeak it in. “She came a step or two nearer but not much and failed to respond to the squeaking.
We kept watching, I decided there would be six to eight inches of bullet drop and this coincided with the mean of what we both thought.I slipped off the safety, brought the cross hairs up the front leg and then ontwo inches above the back, controlled my breathing, finger pad nicely on the trigger, held my breath and fired. The T8 moderator holds down the barrel really nicely and I saw the fox go down. It just flopped over carried roundninety degrees by the impact. I reloaded immediately and continued to watch.There was not a flicker of movement. I put the safety back on and shouldered the rifle, picked up the brass. We set off I was counting the paces and taking my maximum stride. We trekked off.
After a while I stopped,
“How many” Steve asked.
“Two hundred” I replied, we looked at each other and then back to edge of the distant wood. We carried on, I stopped again
“That’s three hundred “I said We looked at he fox now in shotgun range and walked the forty more paces up to it. Three hundred and forty paces. Steve had his phone out, Ilooked enquiringly, “I am texting, that you shot a fox at over three hundredyards“ he said. Who he was texting Idon’t know.
The fox was a vixen and the bullet had entered justforward of the leg and travelled through the chest exiting behind the oppositeleg, the exit wound was large and the hollow point had obviously expanded well.Perhaps some of the local pheasant population may rest easier tonight.
So after over forty years of shooting I had finally shot a fox and in spectacular style. Steve took my photo. My confidence in the .270 and my abilities with it has grown massively and it’s been a really good day. I keep one of the two .270 cases I used that day in my jacket pocket and theo ther on the dressing table, they remind me frequently of this very special day.