FOXING: Deano’s latest mission has the whole town talking, as he catches up with a local celebrity
A chance tip-off leads Deano into the path of a rather large customer… Could he have unwittingly caught up with a local ‘terrorist’?
The shoot I control the foxes on consists of two farms joined together. One is home to the big pig production, which I have written about previously, and half of the game shoot. This farm gets my full attention all year round, protecting the young piglets and then the birds. On the other farm, I am busy protecting the gamebirds from harvest time right up until the crops get away the following year.
One night at the end of September I was passing the building of the second farm on my way home from work, when I spotted the farmer walking to his car. I hadn’t spoken to him for a couple of weeks so I pulled into the yard for a chat and asked if he’d seen any foxes around. He said he hadn’t, and that it’d been very quiet. Then his expression changed and he added: “Actually, I have seen one down by the house a couple of times. I meant to ring you…” Well, of course, this had my interest straight away – not just because I am always keen to keep on top of the fox population, but also because a fox was spotted very close to this area, coming out of a crop when they were cutting it, and I had lamped it and sat up on the stubble quite a few times with no luck. What’s more, this area is very close to a couple of big drives on the shoot – you know, large cover strips of maize next to hedgerows – perfect for him to cause havoc in.
Because the area he’d been spotted in is not somewhere I’ve sat up before, I knew I needed to go and have a look and work out the best place to sit. I met the farmer the following Saturday and from the bottom of his garden he pointed out where he had seen the fox a couple of times recently. We also have a river running through the two farms and the farmer lives right down near the water meadows. It is perfect for foxes, with loads of thorns and brambles running all along the river.
From our viewpoint, looking down across the meadows, I could see a clearing of about 40m in between the long grass and a thick hedgerow, with some trees in the middle hindering my view a bit further down. The fox had been seen further down, but I made my mind up that I would stay where I was; the wind direction wasn’t too bad and there was a small wall that would be the perfect height for me to shoot off. Looking at the ground, it was clear that it wouldn’t be safe for me to shoot lying down.
It gets dark just before 8pm at this time of year, so on the night I was going to sit out for him I arrived about 6.30pm, as I wanted to set the electronic caller up and try my luck for
about 20 minutes. I had young Edward
‘Even the keeper thinks this is the one he has been after for a few years that wouldn’t go into a snare – too wise and so on’
with me so I directed him out into the meadows and he placed the call down near the thorn bushes. We let things settle for 10 minutes or so before we started it up.
It was cloudy and quite a cool night compared to the hot weather we had been having, but as always I had a good feeling about it, and started to use the call. One thing I’ve noticed is that you get an instant reaction to the call if there are any crows around! Edward was getting excited at the thought of setting up the call and shooting them! That will be something for next year.
At about 7.10pm I turned the call off and decided to just sit it out. I never find this boring as the closer it gets to darkness the more your chances increase. It was getting close to 7.45pm and we were just sitting there, glassing all around, when suddenly there he was! Right down at the very end of the meadow.
I quickly swapped my binos for my rifle and found him in the scope. He was moving fast and was about to go out of sight. Not only that, but he was a long way off – it wouldn’t be an easy shot. I whistled as loud as I could and he stopped. There wasn’t time for anything else; I took the shot and, to my relief, watched him go down.
I have gone back to using a .243 again, with 75gr ballistic tips, and I can tell you, I was very pleased with the shot. The famer came out of his house with a can of beer in his hand (not for me though!) and we set off down the meadow to retrieve the fox. We were nearly at the end of the meadow but still hadn’t found the fox, and I have to admit that I was starting to think something was amiss, when Edward spotted him. I was pleased to find him because you do start to doubt yourself when they aren’t where you think they are going to be. I did get that occasionally with the .308 as the bullet would pencil and not expand, therefore they would sometimes do a ‘death run’.
Well, what a cracker this fox was: a big dog fox, and one that looked like he had been around for a few years. The farmer was very pleased – he has chickens and his father, who lives very close, has loads of geese and had lost quite a few in recent weeks.
I think this fox could have taken just about whatever he wanted to, but it just shows that you can’t speak to the people on the ground enough; they are a great source of information. Mind you, once again luck was with me as I got him on the first night, but I will take that.
But the story doesn’t end there. It might surprise you to learn that I do frequent the local pub (!) and the locals like to tell me about any foxes they see. Well, I’ve heard all their stories about the one that’s as big as a German shepherd and how it’s been terrorising their livestock… Even the keeper thinks this is the one he has been after for a few years that wouldn’t go into a snare – too wise and so on. As far as I’m concerned, it’s just another one dealt with and time to move on to the next one. But I think the locals probably do all owe me a pint.
It’s all in a night’s work for DeanoA low wall provides Deano with a stable shooting position A self-confessed ‘traditionalist’, Deano has now gone over to ‘the dark side’ and bought a night vision scope, seen here on his new .243. Find out how he’s getting on with it in the next issue of Sporting Shooter.
Deano has returned to using a .243 with 75gr ballistic tips
Could this be the big dog fox that the locals have been trying to catch up with for years?