FOXING: It’s all for the kids

Lit­tle girls who can’t sleep at night for fear of their chick­ens be­ing killed, that’s who. Luck­ily, Deano is on hand to come to the res­cue – and he’s more than happy to sit out and watch...

Sporting Shooter - - Contents -

Some­times there’s more to be­ing a fox shooter than look­ing after live­stock or game birds – pro­tect­ing small chil­dren from ‘the big, bad, wolf’ for in­stance. At least, this was the sit­u­a­tion I found my­self in one morn­ing ear­lier this win­ter, hav­ing called round to the farmer’s house for a coffee.

It turned out that Joe and his wife Char­lie had had a bad night with their three-year-old daugh­ter not be­ing able to sleep. Any­one with kids has been in this sit­u­a­tion, of course, only this time the rea­son the farmer’s daugh­ter hadn’t been able to sleep was be­cause of a fox scream­ing in the meadow out­side their house.

“I don’t like the foxes,” she re­marked with a sad face, re­mem­ber­ing how last year the fox had taken some of the fam­ily’s chick­ens, which is an un­pleas­ant thing to hap­pen to any­body, let alone a child. But most of us have been there… got home a bit late, gone to shut the chick­ens away only to find them slaugh­tered al­ready; or gone out in the morn­ing to dis­cover a fox has got in and killed the lot.

“Can you get Deano round to shoot the foxes and the big bad wolf?” she asked. “Or he will get the chick chicks!” How could I refuse that lit­tle face? I agreed to come back over later.

It’s not been long since they re­placed the chick­ens they lost last year with some ban­tams, and, as is the case with most peo­ple who keep chick­ens, they had be­come like pets. This fox was not get­ting them, not if I had any­thing to do with it.

Hatch­ing a plan

I went back that same af­ter­noon. The plan was to do as I usu­ally would at the house and sit up on their bal­cony to shoot the foxes com­ing out of the thicket into the meadow be­hind their house. I walked round to take a look and de­cided to sit on the bench on the pa­tio and rest on the ta­ble as this would give me a safe and com­fort­able shot. To be hon­est, I was happy to be out of the house – it was Satur­day night and Strictly was on, not to men­tion what­ever else Shell would be watch­ing tonight!

It was a lovely sunny af­ter­noon when I ar­rived. There wasn’t much wind, but what lit­tle there was, was in the right di­rec­tion.

I got my­self ready, pulling the bench to the ta­ble, get­ting my ther­mal spot­ter and binos to hand. I loaded my ri­fle and sat back to en­joy the late af­ter­noon sun fall­ing quickly from the sky.

False alarm

Dusk was now upon me and the first bit of ac­tion through my spot­ter looked like it could be it… right height and shape, but a quick check through the binoc­u­lars re­vealed it to be a munty doe. My at­ten­tion then turned to the sound of all the pheas­ants go­ing up to roost, as it’s close to our big­gest pheas­ant drive.

Also, be­ing near the river I was get­ting a crack­ing dis­play of ducks fly­ing over. I will never tire of be­ing sat out this time of day, I thought.

‘Be­ing near the river I was get­ting a crack­ing dis­play of ducks fly­ing over. I will never tire of be­ing sat out at this time of day, I thought’

The light had al­most gone by now, as I looked again and found the munty in the spot­ter, only this time it picked up a sec­ond heat source, in­di­cat­ing an­other an­i­mal to the left of it. The shape looked right so once again I checked it, this time with the dig­i­tal scope as the light was nearly gone.

It was about 160 yards away and was stand­ing be­hind the marsh grass. I couldn’t see very much of it and it wasn’t mov­ing. I couldn’t be sure if it was a fox or an­other munty, but I wasn’t go­ing to take my eyes off it.

I watched as it started to make its way to­wards the deer through the grass, then all of a sud­den it rushed to­wards the deer. The deer took off, and what I could now clearly see was the fox stood out in the open. It was al­most like when you see them test hare or rab­bit – they give a quick dash then give up if the hare is fit and can es­cape. I once wit­nessed a rab­bit not look­ing that fit and the fox was on it in a flash.

The fox’s demise

As it was, the fox was now pre­sent­ing a per­fect side-on shot as it stood there look­ing around for its tar­get. I took a breath and squeezed the trig­ger. ‘Thud’… the fox was down. I walked over

and brought it back to the house so I could send a pic­ture to Joe, con­firm­ing the job was done.

He showed his daugh­ter the pic­ture to re­as­sure her that the fox was dead. The funny thing was, when they got home she went run­ning round the back to see if she could find the fox.

That night Joe and Char­lie’s daugh­ter slept soundly, with no scream­ing foxes, and happy in the knowl­edge that her chick­ens were safe.

I sent the pic­ture to our edi­tor, Re­becca, to which she im­me­di­ately replied: “That was quick work! You’ll get home in time for Strictly!” Oh well, you can’t win all the time.

Happy again: the farmer’s daugh­ter with her beloved chick­ens

The meadow be­hind the farmer’s house is a favourite spot for foxes

This Big Bad Wolf won’t be scar­ing lit­tle girls any longer

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