After missing last night due to foul weather, we drove over to a large chicken farm on the outskirts of Exeter this evening, following an invite from a friend who is a mate of the owner. We don’t normally go that far, but they were keen to reduce the number of birds they were losing to foxes, so we agreed to see what we could do.
When we parked up in the first field, we saw almost straight away that there were two foxes on the other side, some 250 yards away. Since it was Paul’s turn to shoot, I suggested he go after them while my friend and I tried the meadow on the other side of the track. Unfortunately for Paul, both his foxes ran off before he could get close enough to shoot them. Possibly he was given away by the bright lights from the adjacent industrial estate.
In the meantime, I put the caller out and tried a few distress calls. Nothing showed up, but some roe deer that were feeding nearby were a little spooked. I then switched to a track that features two foxes fighting – a minute or so later a vixen came in from upwind and took a bullet.
We met up with Paul again by his truck, and then walked down the hill to inspect some fields beyond a large pond. As we approached, we spotted a fox out in the field. This time luck was on Paul’s side, and he dropped the large male without it ever knowing we were there. Shortly afterwards, I dropped another large dog in the next field. Both were out foraging, so there was no need for the caller.
Returning to the truck, we drove about a mile to another part of the farm – we saw a fox crossing a field towards some sheep, but in spite of using the caller for some time, we never saw it again. There was one, however, in with some other sheep when we drove for about half a mile and stopped again. Paul shot it, and we climbed over the gate in readiness for another session with the caller.
Before I’d got it ready though, Paul whispered that another fox had come over the brow, about 150 yards out. I set the rifle up on the sticks and got a perfect alignment with the reticle. It was in some light undergrowth, but I had an excellent view of it. When I fired I expected it to drop on the spot, but instead there was an odd crack and it ran off.
When we got to where it’d been, we realised that there were quite a few thin trees spread about, one of which must have got in the way. I’m sure that if we’d looked hard enough we’d have found one with a bullet strike. What we did see though, was that the fox had recently caught a rat – this was lying nearby with fresh bite marks on it. By then we’d covered all the ground we’d been cleared to shoot on, so we called it a night. Tonight’s 4 means that we’re now on 261 since January 1st.