Caught in the Act - Why Cull Foxes?
- Wednesday, 07 August 2013
Fox Culling can help deer stalkers stay onside with their landowners, Peter Jones explains more.
(Above: Stuart with his first ever Fox! Some small compensation for being outwitted by a Roe Buck).
For many Deer Managers part of the conditions of their stalking lease are that they cull foxes as a priority.
Deer Stalking is usually a solitary occupation and as a result we can not always expect to have land all to ourselves. Instead we will often be required to share our grounds with Pheasant shoots and day to day farming. I was reminded of this just yesterday as I carried out the regular public relations exercise of delivering batches of venison pies to local land owners.
As I pulled cautiously in to one particular farm yard I could hardly stand for the number of free ranging chickens that were left to wander wildly around the general farm house vicinity. Speaking jovially to the landowner we discussed the fox situation and the number of birds he lost each year to this cunning predator and of his desire to get himself a good foxing calibre so that he too could take a few foxes himself.
I hadn’t expected that just an hour later we would catch a young dog fox in the act! Stalking around one of the adjacent fields with Stuart a new client of mine our eyes caught sight of a bright red coat that at this time of year can so often mean Roe deer. However a quick inspection revealed it to be a young fox appearing boldly in an open field, in what can only be described as a standoff with another similarly sized fox.
(Left: The evidence, a young dog Fox & recently stolen Chicken from the nearby farm).
With the conversation with the landowner still ringing in my ears and my promises to shoot the foxes recently renewed, I immediately asked Stuart to take him.
Shooting at a small target some hundred yards away off sticks is no mean feat, however .308 is a big calibre for such a little animal and so I was aware that any contact from the round should bring a speedy end, and I am pleased to report it most certainly did! An excellent forequarters shot from Stuart off the quad sticks and the fox didn’t so much as quiver.
On approaching the stricken animal at its feet we found the evidence of its most recent theft. A half devoured and still fresh chicken! No wonder the other fox had shown such interest and was no doubt just about to challenge its rival for the spoils.
The means employed by deer managers to stalk deer, steady progress, high seats etc often means that we are best placed to also control, what in some areas, is a very significant and problematic fox problem. I suspect that the reluctance of many of us to shoot foxes is that we are concerned that we may disturb a nearby deer that might otherwise step out and present a more treasured memory.
However we should remember the priorities of the landowners and be prepared to assist them in their aims when required. It is often only by doing so that we will retain our shooting grounds. Here the photo of recently culled fox in possession of one of his chickens emailed to the farmer will go a long way to insuring that he sees me as a valuable ally in insuring the safety of his birds!
What is more as those of us who have shot more than one deer out of a single herd know. The shot from a moderated rifle may not disturb the deer as much as we might think. This was certainly true on this outing, for not two minutes after shooting Charlie we glassed a very decent Roe Buck browsing the hedge row not three hundred yards away!
If only we had had so much luck with him. Instead on this occasion we found ourselves well and truly outwitted. Which goes to show that Foxes aren’t the only cunning creature in our woods!