She Had Her Eye On Me…

18th February 2011

I’d been too ill to go shooting for several days thanks to catching the lurgy off my Good Lady. After several days of forced shooting abstinence, however, I was going up the wall, and badly needed to get out. I wasn’t really well enough, but figured that if I wrapped myself up in extra thermals, I’d be OK. My state of mind wasn’t helped by my stalking partner Stuart ‘phoning to discuss when we were going to get out again, and where we should go. Then, a couple of minutes later, a farmer called to say that he’d got a couple of foxes regularly visiting his poultry. That was it – I was going out, come hell, high water, or a full moon…

My Good Lady knew that arguing with me about it would be futile, so she just wished me good luck as I headed out of the door. She had, however, filled me to bursting with good food, so was doing her best to ensure that I wasn’t going to go hungry. I stopped briefly on the way to the farm – some ten miles distant, to check out a field where I’d failed to get a fox the previous weekend. As I climbed the gate to get the best possible view through my NV monocular, the sheep on the other side seemed a bit concerned as to what I was up to, and all turned to look at me. After a few moments, however, they must have decided that I was harmless as they relaxed and went back to chewing the fresh grass. With no foxes anywhere in sight, I jumped back in the truck and drove on.

Arriving at my intended destination without any dramas, I checked in with the farmer to hear the latest updates. We discussed the possible routes the foxes he’d seen might be using, and off I went. Since I’d not been there for over a year, the layout of the place had changed a bit. The first thing I noticed was that some new pig pens had been constructed – these now blocked any chance of my circling around the lower part of the property. I realised straight away that this would make my life more difficult, especially when the wind was in certain directions. Likewise, the first gateway used to give me an excellent view of the land on the far side of the yard – except that now there was a huge manure pile in the way!

Up above, the full moon was engaged in a turbulent struggle with the dark clouds. Fortunately, it was fighting a losing battle, and for most of the time it didn’t trouble me. I can’t say the same for the mist though – this came in thick and fast, and it not only reduced the visibility significantly, but also fogged up the NV’s lenses in seconds. In a similar manner, the wind was not in my favour – it was too light to clear the mist, and blowing from the north east. This meant that I was walking downwind as I approached the likeliest fields – still, the alternative was to be sitting in front of the telly watching some inane drama where pointless people seem to spend their entire lives pointlessly shouting at one another, so I wasn’t complaining…

Apart from the livestock, all I saw as I walked down the track and into the valley below were a few bunnies. I hoped that my caller would change that, but in spite of picking what looked like an excellent spot, I had no luck whatsoever. After fifteen minutes or so, I gave up and moved to another location – with the same result. I was surprised by this, as the woods below me must cover several thousand acres. I suspect that the lack of vulpine activity was due to the fullness of the moon.

The return trip up the hill to the farm wouldn’t normally trouble me, but as I wasn’t fully recovered yet, I took care to go more slowly than usual in an attempt to preserve my energy levels. On the way I kept stopping and scanning the fields, but like everywhere else, they were more or less lifeless. When I reached the new pig pens, I gave them a careful check-over – sure enough, lurking in the shadows were several rats, their eyes glowing like pinpoints in the light from the IR laser. I made a mental note to bring my .25 Rapid next time. This runs at a fraction under 50 ft/lbs, and makes a real mess of these nasty rodents…

As I wasn’t able to skirt the farm, I had no choice but to go through the yard. Luckily, the dogs were shut in – I think there are about nine of them, and the noise they make when they kick-off has to be heard to be believed. There was no avoiding the security light though – fortunately, it has a very short timer, so it went off a few seconds after I’d passed it. Although there were only two more fields for me to check over, I didn’t want to ignore them – and at least I was now heading into the wind. The first gateway leads onto a small paddock – as I leant over to see what was about, I found a small flock of nervous sheep staring back at me. Since nothing else was stirring though, I moved on.

The last field on the farm is about 200 yards across and reasonably flat, but it has a few humps and gullies here and there. I approached the gate carefully, checking first to ensure that the moon was hidden by the clouds. My first scan revealed nothing, but on closer inspection, I spotted something moving in the base of the far hedge. As I played with the monocular’s focus, I could see that the animal in question was fox-shaped. It was snuffling in the long grass, and moving quite quickly. Just as I identified it, it moved behind a small rise in the ground, and was lost to sight.

I knew that there was a distinct chance that it would cut through the hedge and away from me, so I had to act fast. I keep a mouth caller strapped to my monocular with a couple of elastic bands, but decided that as my FoxPro was already on ‘Vole Squeaks’, I’d use that. I therefore retrieved it from my pocket and placed it down by my feet. Within a second or so of the high-pitched sounds being broadcast across the field, the fox was charging in towards me. Much to my surprise, however, only one of its eyes was shining in the NV. It covered the ground at a furious pace, but at about 80 yards out, it paused briefly to take stock of the situation. I was ready and waiting, so as it did so a Nosler BT hit it smack in the middle of the chest. There was no messing about – a solid thud and it literally collapsed on the spot.

On inspection, it was a good-sized vixen. There was nothing immediately obvious when I checked her eyes, although a closer examination showed that the pupil in the duff eye was about twice the normal size. As it’s hard to be sure in the dark, I carried the carcass over to the gate where it could be easily found. I’ve taken to carrying a stash of disposable rubber gloves for just this purpose. Most of the vixens aren’t too bad, but every now and then you get one that positively reeks. The farmer was very pleased that I’d knocked a fox down, and although I was feeling rather weak, it did me a power of good too. I couldn’t move the next morning though…

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