As an experienced fox controller, I’ve probably got every piece of kit that a foxer could ever want. During my time fox shooting, I’ve amassed so much equipment to help me in my chosen trade I often wonder how I ever managed to shoot foxes in the past.
I know most associate pig farms with rats, but at times they can be magnets for foxes coming to take piglets, the weakly older ‘snorkers’ and of course to grub around in the ‘muck’ heaps and around the slurry tips. Then again, as most realise, the fox is an opportunist, and where it sees the chance of an easy meal it’ll take full advantage.
From the outset I want to point out NV (night vision) scopes are not the be all and end all to modern day fox shooting. They certainly aren’t a magic source of instant success; NV is another important tool in the gun cabinet to help you control any lamp-shy foxes on your patch. NV also allows you to operate with the utmost stealth in areas you don’t want to be bathing with artificial light.
A good sheep farmer knows two very important things: when to get the ewes to the safety of the lambing sheds and what constitutes good predator control. In relation to foxes, that’s having a man or men he can trust to respect his land and get the job done quickly and discreetly.
I recall one year when I still had some holidays owed to me, so I thought I would make a dash to Scotland for a possible last buck of the season and to have a go at the fox population that had long been untouchable because of the standing cereal crops.
There’s an old saying I have that sums up shooting pests: “You’ve got to be out and about to get ‘em.” I always harp on about it, but too many foxers and deerstalkers won’t venture out unless conditions are perfect. Trouble is, if you’ve got a few pesky foxes nabbing precious poultry and generally causing headaches, then you’ve got to be out to catch them out.
When foxing, especially in bad weather with the associated deadly ground conditions, it is extremely important to ensure you are properly kitted up. I recall visiting a local farm notorious for its wet ground, so much so that it could almost be a marsh. I’d visited a few times before and had glimpses of fox, but hadn’t had the chance of a sure shot.
Over the years, people have asked me countless questions on foxing. What’s the best kit for foxing, or the best calibre, or rifle scope combination, right down to what’s the best footwear. I suppose it is to be expected – the range of kit readily available to the discerning foxer is immense. A good rule of thumb is to take note of what experienced fox controllers are already using.
Some days it seems I’ve hardly sat down for a brew after work when the phone rings with a farmer or landowner on the other end frantically relating how he’s just seen a fox take a lamb or chicken and can I go immediately to nab it.
If I had a pound for every time I’ve been questioned about dealing with difficult foxes I would be a very rich man indeed. The trouble is that there’s no straightforward answer, as every situation is different; many are similar but no two are ever the same.