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...
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.
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