As a post-script to a blog written in September about a mousing fox on the Chayne, it is worth recording that he was brought to book shortly before sunset last night after a stalk that took in three quarters of a mile of hillside so open that crawling was the only means of approach. By the time I got into him, my glasses were cloudy with condensation, I was wet from my ankles to my collar and every muscle was at a fever pitch of cramp after having hidden in a peat hagg in the most awkward position imaginable while I waited for him to drop over the horizon. He had sat down as if he knew that I was waiting for him to move.
When the shot came, he ran forty yards and somersaulted to an abrupt end, despite the little .222 round having punched him precisely in the right place. And what wonderful condition he was in after a summer of mice and voles on the open hill. I was surprised to find that he must have been a fox of significant antiquity, since his muzzle was white and flecked with scars and the tip of his left ear was tagged with a deep and long-healed rip.
More surprising still was the fact that he only had two front teeth – the bottom left canine and the top right canine. The top gum had healed to leave an ugly scar, but the bottom was such an old wound that there was no sign that it had ever been there. His left nostril was scored open, and the impression overall was that I had felled the grand old meister. As I sat and watched the sun go down, I wondered how many blackgame poults he had eaten during his tenure and tried to guess how quickly his empty territory would be filled again by an equally ravenous newcomer. I must keep an eye on this side of the hill.