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A slow night in the hills

Another account from ProStaffer, Craig Jackson

I don’t know if anybody else is having the same problem as Ben and myself but we’ve got a severe lack of foxes on our ground this year. I know we shot a fair few foxes last year on all our ground but this year has been different. During the cubing season up on the shoots we were only finding litters of one or two… So that can’t be anything to do with what we shot last year as obviously we’ve left a few vixens and dogs about as we’ve found the cubs. We started to wonder if somebody else had been around poaching on our ground. Upon speaking to the land owners and farmers nobody had spotted anybody else about and not seen any tyre tracks leading across the fields.

We’ve now found this problem on most of our permissions which has meant we’re having a slow quiet year on old Charlie.


Last Friday I had a phone call off Sean, a good friend of ours wanting to come over our way and head out on the foxes. Now as most of you know me you’ve now thought that I’ve turned around and said yep come on over as I never really say no to going out haven’t you?? Well this time you’re wrong as I said sorry mate I’m off to a wedding doo and I knew if I had cancelled going there I’d be 6ft under by now. So Sean being Sean kept on badgering and badgering me to which point I messaged the Mrs asking what time she was going to be back from work as I knew she was still down country working and was going to be late getting back. She rang me back saying that she was going to be late and said that I didn’t need to go with her to the party as she was going to pop in for a quick drink and head home as she was up again at silly o’clock.
I was quickly on the phone to Sean saying get your butt in gear and come on over as I had a green light to go out.

Ben and Sean soon arrived at mine for a brew before setting out. I had the perfect location in mind for us knowing that we hadn’t shot it since March time and that there was a good chance of getting onto some cubs that had been released from their mother.

We pulled up and got kitted up and entered the first field with the GC500 playing the mating call from the poachers pocket in my jacket. A quick flash of eyes were spotted through the hedge out to the right of us so as Sean was batting first he quickly dropped to the deck and bi podded up but soon turned out to be a sheep in the adjacent field. I quickly apologised for the crap call but in all fairness in the years I’ve shot this farm I’ve never seen livestock this side of the farm. We soon carried on to the next field which turned out to be maize and again I’ve never seen maize this side of the farm. Not doing too well here am I. On we go into another field that I knew had spuds on and I knew they had been collected a few days before and with the GC playing the same call once again we took up position and it wasn’t long before I spotted a pair of eyes in the hedge with the red night master about 60 yards away and again Sean was soon on the deck and the eyes quickly disappeared. This really wasn’t going well. We carried on calling but with no luck we decided to go the other side of the hedge to see what we could see and in pretty much the same place a set of eyes popped up and this time both Sean and Ben looked through their scopes and couldn’t get an ID in the red. As soon as I swapped to the white the eyes went out so we quickly went back into the spud field to have a look and I was greeted by a bloody black and white moggy!! Enough was enough so we retreated empty handed back to the truck to discuss the next plan of attack.

We decided to head to the hills up on another shoot of ours that we cover via the 24hour garage for a coffee as we knew we had thousands of acres to cover. It didn’t take us long to get up there and Sean and myself jumped on the back of Ben’s pickup and gave Ben the tap to say that we were ready.
2 hours later and still nothing had been spotted bar a couple of moggies that got the old hearts pumping. This night was really starting to get silly as we just couldn’t find a fox! As we came to the last part of the shoot we decided to put the GC on with the mating call and low and behold a fox came bolting in at long last. The location of the truck wasn’t brilliant as we couldn’t get a shot off the roof as it was way out to the right of us so Sean took up position on a fence post, not ideal but needs must.

Now I can’t really remember what happened but somebody knocked something as the fox came to a sudden holt and wouldn’t come any closer and I could hear Sean moving around trying to get steady on the post. I quickly turned the light off and said don’t take the shot if you’re not 100% steady and as I said that I remembered about the bestfoxcall bonnet bag in the back of the truck so I ran around to get it and put it on the back right hand corner of the roof and told Sean to climb up on the tailgate and see if he could use the bag rather than his bipod and thank god he said he could get the shot. With Sean steady on the rifle I swapped from the red light to the White HD Xsearcher and the first shot of the night was taken and the fox dropped on the spot! At long last blood had been spilt.


Ben’s turn to Bat…

We stayed on the same part of the shoot but about ¼ mile away from where Sean shot his fox. With Sean at the wheel, Ben on the rifle and me on the lamp again we were off. The GC on the roof still playing the mating call we had another fox coming straight at us and it wasn’t long before Ben dropped her. Two in the bag within minutes of each other. Ben wanted to pack up as he had work the following morning and it must have been 1am by now and Sean still had a 90 min drive home and we were about half an hour away from his car which was parked up at my house. I put on my puppy dog eyes and sniffled it would be nice if we all had a fox tonight wouldn’t it and Ben quickly replied yes but you shot on last night. He soon gave in and agreed to swiftly drive back the way we had come and we weren’t going to stop and call anywhere which suited me fine. We drove probably ¼ the other side of Sean’s fox and I spotted a pair of eyes way way way up on the bank and quickly gave Ben the tap on the roof to say stop! I couldn’t get far enough round on the roof as it was way out on the right so decided to open the back passenger door and stand on the sill and bipod up on the roof that way. Ben hit the play button on the GC just as I was getting comfy on the roof and this set of eyes started bounding towards us like there was no tomorrow!! I changed my position just as I heard Ben Bark to stop the fox as it was getting to far down the bank which would of left me no shot and I just wasn’t ready in time and at this point the fox had stopped perfect and then carried on down the bank, Ben barked again to which the fox stopped perfect and I was now in the most awkward position possible but I was steady, well I thought I was steady and as I pulled the trigger my foot slipped but it was too late the round had gone and I knew I had pulled the shot but I still connected with the fox and I knew exactly where I had hit it. Straight through the back end… I quickly racked another round in the rifle and Ben still had the light on but I just couldn’t see the fox. I stayed on the back of the truck with Sean and Ben took us straight to where I had shot the fox and thank god Sean spotted the fox way out to the left of us and I sent another round straight through her chest. I felt bloody awful!! At the end of the day accidents happen and we pulled together as a team and dealt with the situation as quick as possible. So all in all a very slow night for us but ended up bagging 3 within half hour which can’t be bad.