Deano and his team go ‘old school’ with one last lamp­ing foray be­fore the birds get too wide­spread. The fore­cast doesn’t bode well, but it turns out to be a suc­cess­ful night

Sporting Shooter - - Contents - WITH DEAN HAR­RI­SON

In the rain

Af­ter ac­count­ing for all the foxes we had seen on the last lamp­ing trip, some by sit­ting up wait­ing with the night vi­sion (which is just the job for tar­get­ing a fox that you know about) I de­cided to go out lamp­ing one last time be­fore the partridge started to spread all over the shoot. It doesn’t take long for the one you have shot to be re­placed at this time of year, es­pe­cially with all these game­birds wan­der­ing around.

It was get­ting well into Septem­ber, with most of the fields cul­ti­vated or drilled, so we would have to be care­ful, but we have some stub­ble and tracks di­vid­ing some of the fields so I knew we’d be able to get round the farm. I lined up the famer to do the driv­ing and Ed­ward was on the lamp.

The fore­cast was look­ing a bit dodgy for the week­end in ques­tion, but it was not likely to change in the days ahead so we de­cided to go for it. Like I say, the par­tridges are still hang­ing around the cov­ers but I didn’t want to dis­turb them too much. In these sit­u­a­tions, you need to lamp with a bit of care.

As we met up that evening and started to get the truck ready – safety cage on and se­cured, lamp checked to make sure it’s work­ing – it was all look­ing good be­fore the rain started. Damn. This was not a good start.

“Maybe we can just lamp out the win­dow and see what’s about,” I said, but Ed­ward, keen as al­ways, said he didn’t mind stand­ing on the back. He had come dressed in all his wa­ter­proof gear as if he was off to the coast to go duck flight­ing!

By the way, I went wild­fowl­ing once with a mate. Splodg­ing around in what re­sem­bled nu­clear waste was not for me, but I re­spect the knowl­edge that goes into that sport. Any­way, that’s an­other story! I told Ed­ward he could crack on, but I would be stay­ing in­side the truck in the dry tonight.

We all got in and drove to the other end of the farm. Once there, Ed was up on top, keen as mus­tard. I smiled to my­self, as I was no dif­fer­ent at his age. We started to drive over the first field and in no time Ed­ward tapped on the top to in­di­cate he had spot­ted some­thing. “What have you seen?” I whis­pered. “Fox,” came the re­ply. It was rain­ing steadily now, but I got up on top of the truck and Ed­ward ex­plained that he had just seen a flash of eyes fur­ther up the field a bit. “It’s def­i­nitely a fox,” he said.

We set off and straight­away the eyes flashed up where he had in­di­cated the fox was, but with two other sets of eyes next to it. “That’s deer,” I mut­tered. Ed­ward in­sisted there had def­i­nitely been a fox there, but I know how some­times they look brighter and you think it’s a fox, but re­ally,

‘As the fox was near­ing the edge of the field, we shouted to try and get him to stop. As they are about to en­ter cover, they just can’t re­sist one last look’

when you do pick up a fox in the lamp, there is no mis­tak­ing it.

Af­ter a bit of mickey tak­ing – “Fox, my ass, you just wanted me to come up here and get wet” – we all had a chuckle and I got back in­side and we car­ried on. Poor Ed­ward was get­ting re­ally soaked now, which added to the fun of the evening: “What’s it like up there? Has it stopped yet?” and so on, as he jumped off the truck, drenched through, to open and shut the gates (that’s a job we all get when we are young).

The rain didn’t last that long in all fair­ness, and af­ter 45 min­utes I got back on top of the truck and we started to pan around the ground, with our hopes now raised for see­ing some­thing. As with deer stalk­ing, your chances are al­ways quite good af­ter a spell of rain, be­cause when it clears up the deer like to come out from the cover and dry off. I have found this to be true with foxes, so I was keen to go and find some.

En­ter­ing one of the main shoot­ing val­leys, we picked up a fox a long way off. It turned and ran straight back to­wards the maize. When you’re lamp­ing you should never just ca­su­ally have a go – we all miss, but un­for­tu­nately this is what makes a fox lamp shy.

Of course, with the NV, if you do miss one lamp­ing you can go back and wait and get your fox, as I have done this year. In the past, get­ting those foxes meant many evenings sit­ting up, bait­ing and snar­ing as there’s a good chance it won’t sit in the lamp for you again. How­ever, this was to be our last lamp­ing night, so I was will­ing to take my chances.

As it hap­pened, the fox stopped on the edge, just as it was about to en­ter the maize. The bul­let was al­ready on its way. We heard the strike and the fox leapt up. We drove up but couldn’t see it. I was sure it would be very close in­side, but the maize was 6’ tall and soak­ing wet. I knew Ed­ward would hap­pily go in there and find it but I said I’d come up and find it to­mor­row – I know, I am too soft on him!

I do like my .308, which I used on this oc­ca­sion, but it can ‘pen­cil’ a bit on foxes. I have a .308 with a Schmidt & Bender scope, and I use 123gr bul­lets – this is my day­time or lamp­ing set up and is also what I use on deer.

My .243 with the 58gr round de­liv­ers more rapid ex­pan­sion and en­ergy de­liv­ery, but that is set up with an NV scope, which is why I wasn’t able to use it in this in­stance. This does mean that some­times they take the bul­let and do a ‘death run’, even when hit right through the ribs.

Take two

The next one we spot­ted was right on the skyline, tak­ing no no­tice of us at all. We de­cided to drive straight at it and see what hap­pened. We got to within 80 yards from him, mak­ing it safe to shoot. We pulled up, I took him in the scope, he stopped to the whis­tle and that’s the eas­i­est fox I have shot this year. It was a dog fox and there were smiles all round as we an­a­lysed what had just hap­pened. That fox just had more on his mind than us… killing our par­tridges I ex­pect.

Re­turn­ing to the ground where we had started, we cov­ered the ground with the lamp and flashed up an­other one too far away to shoot. It was mak­ing its way across to­wards an­other piece of cover, so Joe put his foot down to cut the fox off.

We got as close as we could and as the fox was get­ting near the edge of the field, we pulled up and shouted to try and get him to stop. It so of­ten hap­pens that, just as they are about to en­ter cover or leave a field, they just can’t re­sist one last look and again I shot very quickly. ‘Thud’ came the sound, and down went the fox. This time it was a vixen.

That was three foxes shot and we had not even done half of the shoot yet! The rest of the night was not as suc­cess­ful; we saw three more, two were not safe and the other one dis­ap­peared over the bound­ary and out of sight.

Ed­ward isn’t one to let a lit­tle drop of rain stop him from lamp­ing

Deano never lets the weather de­ter him from go­ing af­ter Mr Fox!

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