Freezing temperatures and a covering of snow and ice can give man the upper hand over hungry, risk-taking predators. Here’s how to capitalise…
Snow seems to be increasingly rare in the UK these days – which, from a foxing point of view, is a great shame. With the ground frozen and covered with snow it makes life hard for the fox to find food. With earthworms, beetles and slugs forming a good part of their diet, and no more of the spring’s easy pickings in the form of young rabbits or pheasants, foxes now need to look elsewhere for a food supply, and may become desperate and take risks. To the foxer, that means a host of opportunities – follow these eight tips and you can’t go wrong.
Bait points and calls will work better now than at any other time of the year. Not only are foxes more likely to come in to bait, you can set the point up more intelligently in the first place. With snow on the ground it will be easy to see where foxes are travelling to and from, how many are around and, with regular snow flurries, at which times of the day they are busy.
Try locations you don’t normally visit. In the snow foxes will often move around a lot more, and for longer periods, as they search for food. With the average life expectancy of wild foxes in this area being rarely more than a few years, the chances are they will not have seen snow before, and will share the puzzled look and inquisitive nature of a dog when it first experiences the white stuff; indeed, the fox can sometimes be seen jumping and running about in it like a puppy. But the novelty soon wears off and the more serious concern of satisfying their hunger takes over.
Try day optics. An advantage of a white landscape is that at night, with a good quality day scope, it’s easy to spot foxes without any need for a lamp or night vision – as long as you have a little moonlight. And finding a shot fox that has run off is a lot easier with a blanket of white to highlight a blood trail as well as footprints.
Remember you’re just as visible as the fox. Camouflage of some form is a necessity. Bring a few options so you can adapt to your situation – camo jacket and white sheet or cover suit.
Know your surroundings. On an open hill or field? Clear a little snow from the ground, lie in a hollow with a white sheet over you, and call them in. In a wooded area or among hedges? A usual camo jacket will easily disguise your silhouette.
Walking around calling and shooting from sticks isn’t a great tactic given the noise created by walking on snow and ice. But if you’re forced to do it, take an old white bed sheet, cut a hole in the middle and wear it like a poncho over your jacket. You can also buy white disposable cover overalls over the internet for under a couple of quid and which work well if you only have a few outings in the snow; however, if you live in an area which regularly receives a white dusting then it may be worth buying a white winter camo oversuit.
Discomfort is your enemy. Dressing warm in the cold weather goes without saying, but also remember the likelihood of getting wet as the snow melts. Waterproofed and warm clothing is therefore essential if you’re planning on spending any length of time outdoors.
For the ultimate winter foxing makeover, build yourself a fox box. You can set yours up with anything you need – shooting rests, lights, even a kettle! Being able to wait in reasonable comfort for foxes to come in will massively boost your chances. You can bait up a fox box a week or two before a cold snap sets in; before long the foxes will be regular visitors.
The best tip of all is simply to get out there as much as possible. You won’t catch up with any foxes in the living room in front of the TV.