Ask the experts: Organising a fox drive

Q As the end of the pheasant season approaches, we are thinking of organising a couple of fox drives to reduce their numbers. How do I go about this?

A Mike says: I used to organise quite a lot of fox drives and they can indeed be an efficient way of keeping fox numbers under control. The main factor is safety. You really do need to know those involved, both guns and beaters. If, as is usually the case, you are driving woodland towards open ground, it will pay to have at least one or two people stationed well out with rifles to pick off any fox that gets through the initial line. Otherwise, shotguns are the best bet loaded with BB or similar.

You only need a small number of beaters, and dogs are not a necessity, though in really rough ground they can help. Drive with the wind and ensure your guns are in position well before the beaters approach the area to be driven. The beaters should move slowly and not make huge amounts of noise – stick tapping is best. Position your guns in a semi-circle; it pays to have a couple of walking guns on the flanks of the area.

Make sure your guns keep quiet. And always, always stick to foxes only. Nothing irritates beaters more than to struggle through brambles and the like only to emerge at the other end and find someone has shot a pigeon.

Mike Powell, Professional gamekeeper and foxing expert

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