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’?

Sporting Shooter - - Contents - WITH DEAN HAR­RI­SON

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?

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