After four consecutive days of rain, it was nice to get the chance to head up around the hill for a leisurely walk this afternoon. There was nothing in my traps, and as I came off the inbye fields and stepped into the car, something caught my eye on the road by the shepherd’s cottage. My first reaction was that there was a ginger cat walking up and down the verge, but as soon as I had had a good look, it was clear that it was something altogether more sinister. A fox cub hopped up onto the dyke and looked away, and I ground my teeth with fury to find that all I had was a camera. I took this photo (above) before it dropped down onto the other side of the dyke and vanished into the long grass.
I haven’t been having much luck with foxes recently, and being unarmed was so frustrating that I decided to do all I could to set the record straight. My shotgun was in my cabinet; a four mile round trip in the car, but I was determined to seize this golden opportunity and see what became of it. I covered the distance in a quarter of an hour and was back with a pump action loaded with no. 4s in record time.
I left Scoop in the car, mainly because I wanted to see if I could track the cub through the grass on my own, but as soon as I stepped over the dyke, I realised that the odds were well and truly in the cub’s favour. The grass was so high, and there were countless opportunities for it to slip away without my ever seeing it. Calling in reinforcements, Scoop jumped out of the side window of the car and immediately locked on to where the cub had been. She ran lustily through the undergrowth to my right while I continued to search down the thick rushes to the side of a drainage ditch.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw that she had stopped and had cocked her ears. She had found something, and as I ran towards her, the cub emerged from under a thick tussock of grass. There is no way that I would ever have found it as it sat tight in the undergrowth, and as it started to run, Scoop kept pace with it, tumbling it over like I’ve seen her do with smaller puppies. All I had to do was call her off it, then send it tumbling over with the shotgun. Contrary to all expectations, the plan had worked like clockwork. The cub was much smaller in the flesh than it had looked on the dyke – bigger than a hare but not a great deal more. I was planning to set some snares this coming week, but looking at the size of the little blighter, it’s still too small for the stops on my snares.
I scoured the area for other cubs, but it’s probable that they will all be spread out by now. Foxes don’t keep all their eggs in one basket, and as soon as the cubs are old enough to be moved, they are dropped off in different locations all across their parents’ territory. I may have found one, but there are sure to be others. Now that I’ve got a four legged accomplice, however, the task of fox control seems a great deal more achievable.