FOXING: Catch­ing those Char­lies that have out­foxed you this year

With the game sea­son over, Deano of­fers some top tips to help you make an early start on the foxes this year, or catch up with some of the par­tic­u­larly wily ones that have out­wit­ted you

Sporting Shooter - - Contents -

With the game shoot­ing sea­son be­hind me and al­ready a few foxes in the bag this year, I wanted to share a few tips on how to catch up with these now smart foxes, that have es­caped be­ing shot up un­til now.

Lamp­ing

Not only is it a good way of get­ting re­sults, it’s also about what you spot when you are out. The best way for me is to have a three-per­son team: a driver, a lam­per and some­one on the ri­fle up on the back of the truck ready to shoot.

You do have to think of your own safety and should rig up a cage or some form of seat­ing up on the back. Some driv­ers I have been out with over the years can for­get you are on the back as they race up the field to cut off a fox. That can get pretty hairy as they swerve around.

With this sort of set-up, the more ex­pe­ri­enced the team and the bet­ter you all know the ground, the bet­ter the re­sults. It can be frus­trat­ing when the lamp isn’t shone in the right place.

When plan­ning the route you will take that night, think about where you are in the field you are cov­er­ing. Al­ways try to keep to the high ground, so that if you see a fox, it’s safe to shoot.

If you flash one up and it’s a long way off, think which way he would want to go – i.e. back to a wood or cover strip – and try to cut it off. Of course, ev­ery out­ing is dif­fer­ent, but if the fox doesn’t seem too jumpy, keep lamp­ing around, check­ing he is still there. If he moves, keep the light off him un­til you are within shoot­ing range, then pull up, with your ri­fle ready, and put the lamp on him.

In these sce­nar­ios, you have to shoot quickly, but if this is your only method of con­trol and you’re not con­fi­dent to take a fast shot, I don’t rec­om­mend just hav­ing a go at it – you could end up with a lamp-shy fox.

There are times when you can also try to stop your fox – I pre­fer a whis­tle or shout. Or, just as they en­ter cover, there’s a chance they will have one last look, so be ready. We all can miss, of course. They can move just as you shoot and so on. But if you have shot at him and missed, he might be one that will never sit in the light again, so you will need an­other plan to get that fox.

Sit­ting out

I have to ad­mit, sit­ting out, for me, is the most en­joy­able way of shoot­ing foxes – it’s re­lax­ing and you get to see so much other wildlife. Mind you, if it’s freez­ing cold and you’re af­ter a fox that’s do­ing lots of dam­age, the en­joy­ment fac­tor does lessen a lit­tle – al­though that does mean it’s even more sat­is­fy­ing when you do get it. When you are mak­ing a plan to sit out, this is where your fieldcraft comes in. Where do you think the fox will come from? Where is the safest place to shoot him? So... where can I sit? When choos­ing where to sit you must have the wind either in your face or cross­ing away from where you think the fox will come out. He has

‘This is the time to get your foxes – to help your wild birds while they are nest­ing and to pro­tect the young live­stock on the farms’

lasted this long and he will take off in an in­stant if he scents you.

Also, you don’t want to be out in the open or in the sky­line. Think of the fox’s view – if you are on high ground make sure there is a tree or bush be­hind you to mask your sil­hou­ette.

I like to get there an hour be­fore dark, if I can, so I am ready to wait and watch. A fox can come out at any time, but gen­er­ally it’s dur­ing that last 10 min­utes be­fore it gets dark that you will have most suc­cess.

Re­mem­ber, you need to keep look­ing un­til you re­ally can­not see a thing – the num­ber of times I have thought it’s all over and then there is the fox, right in front of me.

You can in­crease your chances by putting out bait (pi­geons, rab­bits or a car­cass) and some­times you will need to use bait to draw your fox into a cer­tain place for a safe shot.

Night vi­sion

This has been a game-changer for me. Af­ter many years of us­ing the lamp, sit­ting out and calling, I now use night vi­sion (NV). In many ways, it is just the same as sit­ting out as you still have to use the same prin­ci­ples of fieldcraft, but the ben­e­fits are clear – it en­ables you to sit out for longer!

As I have a dig­i­tal scope, I can use it be­fore it gets dark as well, so now when sit­ting out I use this set-up all the time.

With the ther­mal spot­ter, the re­sults are spot on. Yes, I still shoot some at last light and would still see them with my day­time set-up, but I’ve found that the real ac­tion time is about 20 min­utes af­ter dark. Say­ing that, I have waited for hours only to spot the fox well out of range.

It can also be very frus­trat­ing. I was wait­ing to shoot one in a val­ley one night re­cently, only to watch him chas­ing par­tridges all over the place and jump­ing up and catch­ing one. Not once did he of­fer me a shot. Gr­rrr! So, you do still have to work at it, but if you put the time in you will get them in the end.

This is the time to get your foxes – to help your wild birds while they are nest­ing and to pro­tect the young live­stock on the farms.

It may be nec­es­sary to draw a fox in us­ing bait Deano’s night vi­sion set-up has trans­formed his foxing

You can stop a fox by whistling or shout­ing

A good lamp­ing team is the key to suc­cess

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