Red Fox

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A fox is easily seen on a bright summer’s day. His redness cracks like a flag in the sunshine, and I begin to think that his coat is a vanity – something saucy and provocative. If he suffers for being seen, then he was asking for it.

A red coat is striking to me in broad daylight, but look again on the edge of darkness. There comes a moment in the dusk when light has gone and the redness pales to grey. Spot a fox then – I challenge you.

In lying out for a fox last year, I made my bed at the bend in a long, dusty track. It’s a good place to wait and see, and a clear view to five hundred yards. Evening came and the light fell. I stared along the track and bided my time. Dimness and dimmer, with the western hills in durlish blue. It was almost time to use the lamp when I saw movement on the track – a squirmy little shape at two hundred yards.

It was too small to be a fox, and I brought the rifle to my cheek and stared down the telescopic sight. It made no sense to me, seeming more like a darkness in the wheel ruts of the track. I frowned for some time before I realised that I was looking in the wrong place. I had seen the shadow beneath a fox, and the squirming dance it made seemed to play across the grass as the prowler came nearer. Even at a hundred yards with a clear view and nothing to block me, I saw that fox as if he were an empty line drawing; a smirr like a spot of grease on a lens.

It’s wrong to scoff at the fox for his redness. He shines in the daylight, but that’s not when he’s meant to be seen. Find him in the final throes of sinking darkness and you’ll see how little colour comes into it.

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