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There’s more than one way to skin a cat…

It seems no matter what method you use to control foxes there will always be someone who disagrees with how you do it.

A recent spat in a well-known Facebook page had two sides arguing over whether the use of night vision was sporting. In true Facebook style, toys were thrown and dummies were spat… The argument went on… and on – with neither side prepared to see the other’s point of view.

The fact is we all control foxes for a reason – a fox on the deck that’s no longer chasing chickens/ducks/poults/lambs – whatever the prey du jour may be.

So where do you draw the line? What is sporting and what is unsporting? What constitutes cheating?

I’ve spoken to a number of “foxers” ranging from sporting hobbyists to professional pest controllers – and from the traditionalist to the tech savvy.

One thing is certain – choice of kit appears to have nothing to do with age. I know foxers in their seventies who have embraced thermal spotters, digital and tubed night vision and remote callers – and foxers in their twenties who swear by the snare or a long dog.

One overriding theme seems to be to get the job done – and get it done humanely.

We often get people walk past us at Game Fairs, giving us their best hand squeak – usually followed by “that’s the only call I’ve ever needed”. There’s no denying that given the right circumstances, the natural sound of a well delivered squeak from the back of the hand can be as effective as any caller. But a “hen in distress” call when shooting around a free range chicken farm can be incredibly effective or a distressed lamb during spring works a treat to pull in those hungry vixens looking to feed their young… And how about the infamous Vixen in Heat. That call alone has probably accounted for more foxes than any other single call. Does that constitute cheating…?

Consider your glass…? Should we all ditch our scopes and resort to open sights to give the fox a chance…? Should we resort to an 8kg car battery and spotlight or embrace the modern LED torch technology…?

The question is, where do you draw the line? And that’s a personal choice. Personally I’m not a huge night vision fan but love using thermal to spot and ID foxes without making my presence known. Unfair – I don’t think so.

If our job is to control foxes then surely we should use the most effective, humane means possible and if that means thermal imaging to give us an advantage then thermal it is. If anyone thinks thermal is cheating, then a 53gn bullet doing 3500fps is perhaps a little unfair too.

It’s human nature to believe that “my way” is the “best way” – but as I set out, there’s more than one way to skin a cat – and probably twice as many ways to drop a fox.