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
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.
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.
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.
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