Friday, 1 March 2013

High Anxiety

We've had a great spell of weather this last few days. I must say, it feels good to feel some heat in the sun and to feel that winter is coming to a close. Regular readers amongst you will know that it's been a particularly tough one with regard to the hind cull.

I thought I'd take advantage of this good weather and the lengthening days to see if I could fall in with one of these foxes that I know is going about. (Since Christmas I've been seeing signs of them- pad marks, scats, kills. I even had one in my sights when I was out lamping one night. When I lay down to shoot it there wasn't quite enough clearance over the rise in the ground halfway between me and it. Sooooo frustrating!) So I decided to go out and spy a favourite rock face at first light.

The downside of these beautiful, clear, still days is that it gets bloomin' cold at night. And the coldest part of the night is often just before dawn. Which is about the time I was sitting down to spy.

Actually, I'd seen the forecast and knew that I was to expect about -8C so I took a sleeping bag and thick gloves with me. Just as well. I worked up a good sweat climbing and scrambling over snow wreaths to get to my place. Thereafter there was little to keep me distracted from the nipping of my ears.

By 8.30am I decided to try and stir things up and fired a shot into the rock face. Twenty minutes after that I picked up a fox on a ledge. It looked like a b******d of a place.

This fox faffed about, back and forwards, on that ledge for the next 2 hours before it eventually disappeared  out of sight under a bank. I could move at last, thank God!!

When I got to the floor of the corrie I dumped a heap of gear. Mostly clothes, actually. I had a feeling I was going to be sweating again before long. And I was right. The climb up through the rocks was bad enough but trying to move quietly over deep, crunchy snow was taking even more effort. And I had both the rifle and the shotgun to weigh me down.

At last I reached my chosen spot- only to find branches negating any chance of a clear shot to the ledge. After spying for 30 minutes and seeing nothing, I moved to the next likely spot.

Again, I had the same problem but this time I had a clear shot to one tiny bit of the ledge. I tried a squeak to see if the fox would show. Nothing. I still gave it a good half hour just in case. Then I moved in a bit more.

This time, I had a better view- at the cost of a  more precariuos shooting position. (Have a look at the pic!) So I squeaked and waited.....and squeaked and waited. After an hour I decided enough was enough. I fired a shot into a block of icicles hanging above the ledge, showering the place with a cascade of ice. I reloaded quickly, waiting for the fox to come bolting out. Nothing happened. I gave it another half an hour in case this was one of those foxes with nerves of steel that would come sneaking out after sizing things up. Still nothing....

 I concluded that either this fox had already left, or it was well underground. I decided to walk into the place with my terrier and shotgun. I slung the rifle on my back and started the painstaking approach. I got within 50 yards before I came to a narrow bit in the ledge. I looked down at the possible outcome and backed off. Too rich for my blood!

As a last resort I backtracked right down to the bottom of the corrie and climbed back up through the rocks. This time I approached the ledge from the other side. When I eventually gained a vantage point I fired a rifle shot straight into the bank where the fox had disappeared. Once again, nothing moved. Furthermore, it was obvious there was no way in from this side with terrier and gun. It was time to go home.

 A weary trudge later saw me back at the rover. Now there was a welcome sight! I arrived home some time later with a raging thirst and hunger gnawing at my belly. Little wonder really- it's not every day that I have my breakfast at 5pm.




  1. Wow, amazing fox photo, what camera have you got Andy?

  2. Hi Dave. Believe it or not, all my pics are taken with a compact. It's a Panasonic TZ25. It has a 16x optical zoom (the TZ30 has 20x)and a leica lens. The digital zoom will take it up to a claimed 50x but, of course, the resolution quickly goes with this. The pic of the fox was cropped on the pc too- but not much!

  3. Thanks Andy, Thinking of getting a super-zoom camera that is lightweight for the hill, if your compact 16x delivers that quality I won't bother with anything bigger.