Drive-by Foxing

3rd Feb. 2011

Having not had any luck in getting onto the foxes that had been chewing the tails off the local lambs over the three previous nights, I decided that it would be best to give them a break and go elsewhere. It was looking as though it could be a good night for foxing. The moon wasn’t going to be visible, the temperature was up, the wind was forecast to be in the south west and quite strong – so there’d be no fog, and if all went well, there would be no rain. I therefore sent an email over to my friend Andy to see if he’d be up for a drive around in my Disco. Before long, I got a reply to the affirmative, so we agreed a time and I got everything ready.

I drove over about an hour after dark, but arrived a little early. I thought it’d be a good idea to take the opportunity to check out the field behind the game meat processing ‘factory’ which Andy manages. As there wasn’t much time, I didn’t bother with gloves or a face veil – luckily it was very dark, for more or less straight away, I spotted a set of fox eyes half way across the field. I snuck out from the hedge until I’d got a good backstop, set the sticks out with my feet nicely positioned, and waited until the fox was side-on. As it was only about 50 yards out, I aimed a little high to allow for the scope height, and released a .22-250 round. There was a convincing ‘thwop’, and it was game over for what proved to be a mid-sized vixen with an unusual amount of black coloration along its underside.

As Andy had been losing pheasants to foxes, he was very pleased to hear that I’d smacked one down already! We got ourselves organised and set off in my Landy, with him driving. When we got to the point he’d chosen to start from, he pointed to a gateway on our right and said that it’d be worth making a quick check in the field on the other side. Like a fool, I listened to his suggestion that I leave the rifle in the truck. Yes – as soon as I switched the NV monocular on, I saw that there was a great big fox standing about fifty yards out looking right at me. I dashed over to the truck and grabbed my beloved Sauer, but by the time I got back, the Charlie was doing a good impression of a race horse and had reached the far end of the meadow…

We decided that rather than spook it any more, we’d drive on and come back later. At the next stop, Andy said that the fields on either side of us were good candidates for foxes. The gate was open into the one on our right, so I looked in there first. Apart from a couple of bunnies, there was nothing to be seen, however, so I walked in a few paces and scanned the fields beyond. Sure enough, there was a fox snuffling about in the grass on the far side of the lower hedge. After a quick discussion, we agreed that the best idea would be if Andy stayed where he was, and I went down the hedgeline to see if I could get a shot on it. If I was successful, he’d then drive the truck down the lane to save me having to trek all the way back.

Although the terrain we were shooting over is only about ten miles from my house, it is lowland sheep farming country, whereas my area is mostly composed of upland hill farms. Consequently, it is much more sheltered and the temperatures are that bit higher. This means that late in the year there’s more grass around – and that means more bunnies above the ground as well as more worms below. And foxes just love worming, which is what my intended target appeared to be doing. I managed to get an oak tree between myself and it, but just as I was congratulating myself on the quietness of my approach, I stood on a dry branch that lay unseen in the long sward. It gave way with what sounded like a cannon shot in the stillness of the night, but fortunately a quick inspection with the NV revealed that the fox hadn’t heard me.

I reached the hedge with no further incident, set the sticks out, and rested the rifle on top. A scan with the monocular, however, revealed another fox at the top of the hill. From its size and the brightness of its eyes, it was almost certainly a male. The one I was after immediately legged it up to meet him, and as it got to within a few feet, started running around in circles and rolling on its back exposing its belly in a submissive manner, whilst making a plaintive cry. By this time it was well out of range, but I wasn’t going to let it go that easily.

I quickly got my FoxPro Scorpion ready and placed it by my feet. A few frenzied fumblings with the remote got the ‘Young Rat Distress’ call going, and pretty well as soon as the sound reached them the vixen stopped rolling around and came tearing back down the hill like a steam train. I was hacked off to discover that there were a lot of high twigs in the way, potentially preventing me from taking a shot. The fox, however, kept on coming – in the end I had to make a squealing noise with my lips to stop it. It halted about 30 yards out – luckily where there was a gap in the foliage, and almost immediately it was bowled over by a Nosler ballistic-tip from my Sauer.

As planned, Andy brought the truck down the lane and we headed off for a bit scanning here and there before returning to the field where we’d seen the first fox. This time, I took the rifle with me – yet again I could see there was a Charlie was in with the sheep. It was about sixty yards out and looking straight at me – whether it was the same one or not, I can’t say. I waited until something distracted it, and then had the rifle on the gatepost in moments. When it turned back to look at me, it took a round between the eyes. We checked out the rest of the field, but there were nothing more than a few bunnies and a couple of snipe about. On examining the carcass, we were pleased to see that it was a huge dog fox, which must have weighed about 24lbs. It’s hard to be precise because the contents of its skull emptied when we picked it up – very messy indeed…

Before calling it a night we decided to have a go with the caller, so made our way to the far end of the field. As we did so, we spotted a fox in the hedge, but it immediately disappeared out of sight. Possibly because at that moment some old boy from the local running club went huffing past in the lane behind us. We set the caller out, but no matter which call I tried – vixen, rat, bunny, nothing was interested. Andy reckoned it was because the farm is very heavily shot-over by people using both lamps and callers. We checked out a few other places without any luck, then because Andy had to go back into work, we called it a night. Still – three foxes for three shots was a definite result!

Sauer .22-250 + NV. 55gr Nosler BT.

 

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