Great post Klench
Felt like I was there with you.
The distant throb of the snow plough woke me at 3AM. I lay there dreaming of a certain moonlit wood and imagined snowflakes falling through the now leafless timber and alighting on my excessively decorated Bison Bushcraft backpack. Should I just go for it or would I join battle yet again with Southeastern Railways preferred “revised timetable” that equates to we’ll run a train if we feel like it. At 5AM the green tea was brewing and my kit, including snow chains, waited at the back door ready to hit the ice. Mayfair had lost!
Once onto the back roads the Defender’s tyres made a pleasing sound as they pushed through virgin powder. The headlights picked out a woodcock sitting in the middle of the road. It showed no signs of movement. I stopped the vehicle and walked to within 2ft before it fluttered into a tangle of alder. Was it nursing a puncture from single No. 7 shot or was it just weak with cold and the lack of accessible food? Guess I’ll never know.
I slipped into the estate wood and donned my Woolpower 200g balaclava as it began to snow again just as in my dream. Large flakes that fluttered like feathers in a fabric conditioner advert. I felt good. How could I afford to miss such a rare day of winter beauty and calm. With half an hour to go before full light I moved slowly towards my intended ambush point and soon spied my first target of the day. Quickly I scuttled to the nearest tree and prepared the Predator Sniper Styx. The fox ranged across the undulating meadow occasionally disappearing form view. All attempts to gain his attention by calling failed. The shot had to be now or the chance would be lost. I slipped my trigger finger from glove and held the crosshairs high on the shoulder. My only chance would be that spilt second when he next changed direction. I let the pin fall on 38.5 grains of Varget. Boom! A strange silence followed. I couldn't see the fox but new I had connected. Rather than move to my intended vantage point I spent a further half hour calling with a variety of open and closed reed predator calls. This proved unsuccessful but to have simply collected the fox immediately would be braking one of the golden rules of fox calling. Often you will get lucky and find another fox close by.
I moved to even higher ground just as the sun broke above the skyline spilling golden rays onto field after field of snow. Lone trees cast their lengthy skeletal shadows and horses looked strangely short until one realised their legs were lost in snow. I broke out the Leica 10 - 15 X 50's and glassed each woodland fence line then commenced a series of calls that I hoped would provide the next adrenaline rush. I was using a combination of calls that included 2 open reed types from Crit'R Call and a twin closed reed call from Zepps. The latter is called the "Rattler" and in a small wood can be so loud and alien as to frighten even me but, and here's the point, it gets results. Honest!
Amazingly nothing appeared for over an hour and when I did pick up fur at 15 power it was in a field some 400 yards away. I toyed with the idea of a shot but this was one fox that had no intention of stopping. In the time it took to drop the crosshairs over the top of fur he was another half field away. I lowered the rifle and took in the view as the blinding sun provided an element of much needed warmth but sadly not to my extremities.
Soon 1 hour became 3 and at which point I'm ashamed to say this 52-year old was simply too uncomfortable to stay put. I just had to get some feeling back into my toes. I dragged the now stiffening fox back to the relative shelter of the woods just as another less kind type snow arrived. Finding a nice vantage point over a deep timber-filled ravine I prepared lunch. The soup tasted good and my whole body, including feet, now tingled with an inner warmth. Slipping the custom PRS between V sticks I commenced a series of calls on the smallest open reed. Keeping my lips and tongue well back on the the Crit'R Call Pee Wee's reed ensured a high pitched squeal associated with small mammals in distress. Using a variety of further calling techniques that involves opening and closing the port with hand; varying the amount of air and frequency and just about anything else that will add to the affect of a seriously upset rabbit, I soon heard the call of an interested jay and the mewing of a buzzard. Must be doing something right I thought but in truth calling hawks, owls and, of course, covides is relatively easy. At least that's what I've found.
10 minutes later I caught sight of a heavy dog fox's russet coat as he slipped silently through a tangle of fallen timber. Slowly he moved towards me in the most accommodating fashion. I didn't even need to re-adjust the rifle, just track him slowly with a slight movement of the wrist. As the mask came into view from behind a fallen branch the .25 calibre 85 grain Ballistic Tip made contact with fur at circa 3300fbs. The fox did not even twitch. Further calling failed to bring in another.
Suddenly I felt guilty and realised I had at least better check a few e-mails if my claim of "working from home" was to mean anything. My "snow day" was over.
Last edited by Klenchblaize; 18-01-2010 at 11:23.
"..to have simply collected the fox immediately would be braking one of the golden rules of fox calling. Often you will get lucky and find another fox close by."
Good for you mate. Your patience clearly demonstrates your unwavering respect for nature and regard for the animal you're sure you'd hit but couldn't see.
Well done you.
Perhaps I should have said I couldn't see the fox after looking up from the rifle and glassing the area with binos. However, I most certainly saw the bullet impact and my quarry collapse. One of the advantages of a semi-heavy rig and mildly recoiling cartridge.
Well done. Conditions look a bit intrepid.
Am particularly impressed as although I have opportunistic fox on my FAC for my .270, and standing orders from the keeper to shoot any I see, I've yet to actually shoot one. (Let alone two!)
Not sure of the effectiveness of the camouflage though. I recently invested the mighty sum of £18 in an ex-army snow camo oversuit and was very impressed by how well it worked in the current conditions.
I won't tell you my best score then!
Interestingly I love my fox calling more than deer stalking and only a little behind the finest rifle sport of all that is autumn squirrel hunting, but I seldom go lamping for Charlie. This being the accepted method for achieving large bags.
Looks a cracking trip out!!
Snow camo is well worth shelling out on IMO. Just for maybe the one or two times you use it for the stalking or whatever, decoraters overalls are grand. I was fortunate to be given one of these suits a couple of christmases ago [http://www.bushwear.co.uk/styles.php...4&ClassID=159]
My World Is Held Together With Duck Tape, Bailer Twine And Zip Ties
+1 on the painters overalls, or better yet hunt around and you might be able to find a supplier near you that do tyvek overalls.
I still dont get it when peolpe wear "real tree/mossy oak" in the snow.
Nice rifle by the way i run a couple of PRS`s my-self.
What stock is that? Ive got a Bell and Carlson thumb hole on one of my rifles and love it
Last edited by UKdave; 08-01-2010 at 20:50.
Don't know anything about the rifle or the camo but that was a great post, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I'm still waiting for the go-ahead from my local farmer on rabbitting with my air rifle so some vicarious pleasure is always welcome.
Joking apart, it is astonishing how a rifle slung on the shoulder changes an ordinary walk into a concentrated, deliberate connectedness with the world around you.
Thank you very much, I miss my hungting outings very much and I felt very much with you.
nice rifle mate, what is it?
its my delight on moonlight night in a season of the year
the sunrise shot looks great , is it a hdr photo
its my delight on moonlight night in a season of the year
Is there another exciting episode next week?
In answer to the various questions/observations:
1. Although I have "snow camo" unless you are standing in an open field of the white stuff I don't honestly see the need here in the South. The picture at top shows me in some kind of "sticks & leaf" camo against a partially snow-covered rock and to a fox I probably look and extension of this. In the woods there is even less need. On Saturday I shot a fallow and Sunday a further 2 foxes dressed in the same kit. The stainless steel barrel & action is a different matter!
2. Rifle is a custom PRS with Western Gunstocks laminate timber stock hand-carved and measured to 'fit'. The calibre is a .25 wildcat called the ".250 Klenchblaize"! The cartridge is based on the 6x47 Swiss Match case and existed long before our US friends started experimenting with the 6.5X47. (Just what is the different in diameter between 6.5 metric and .25 imperial??)
3.Not sure what an "HDR" picture is but I had to play around with the the high and low lights in Photoshop Elements as my eyesight screwed up when previewing the exposure and amount of fill in flash. Basically I had to be 'brutal' with boosting the foreground content if I was to be anything but a dark blob! I am sure though that someone with good knowledge of Photoshop would be able to bring out the full potential if using the RAW file.
4. I doubt "another exciting episode" is on the cards given the poor viewing figures but guess that's largely down to where, by necessity, this element of fieldcraft must be hidden away on BCUK
Last edited by Klenchblaize; 11-01-2010 at 16:38.
Pretty good, I'd say, and a well appreciated post, and well worth the effort involved (posting pics is always time consuming).
Dead animal pics are confined to Fair Game, which I guess is a reasonable compromise that allows informative stuff to be posted without offending anyone. Even some shooting websites have similar rules.
That's quite a rifle. I find the idea of custom rifles and handloading appealing. the satisfaction must be akin to catching salmon with flies you tie yourself (as Aldo Leopold says, such an angler has scored two coups, not one).
On the other hand, my £200 used rifle shoots three quarter inch groups at 100 yards with Norma factory ammunition (with the bipod). I think that's pretty good.
Last edited by Doc; 11-01-2010 at 17:59.
Dang, It makes a change from the C**p we get in sporting rifle these days... Honesty bud I think that was a really good blog cum write up jobbie, Im almost inspired to do one myself I would love to here more as its not a type of shooting Ive ever done. Most of my foxing is either waiting up or active stalking, I have called Roe in and things but never foxes, bar the odd time playing around down south.
I also think that 300 hits is alot, In what? three days, that a 100 hits a day!
Last edited by Cael Nu Mara; 11-01-2010 at 22:49.
My World Is Held Together With Duck Tape, Bailer Twine And Zip Ties
Great thread mate
I tried to do a bit of foxing on saterday night I managed a cup of tea with a farmer friend then went home to to curl up next to a lovely and warm swimbo
With regards to your calls do you try anything else? I seem to have a great deal of luck doing my best impression of a lamb call and my best imitation 'gobble gobble' turkey call has called more than a few in.
Still nothing compared to a foxing in Australia Dvd i used to have where the fella squeeled a fox in then shouted "OI" to make it stand ^^
Brilliant! Very creatively written too. When does the book come out? Should consider it.............hc
I'm willing though to try anything and particularly some of the bird distress calls such as that marketed in the US as a "wounded woodpecker". Equally important as the volume and type of sound is the use of silence. For instance if I arrive at an ambush point before first light and having not encountered a fox on route; stalking holds as much interest for me as calling them, then I might spend an hour sitting quietly and let any local fox take his regular walk home without distraction. There is plenty of sense to this as if your calling does gain the attention of a fox his first priority is to quite literally get wind of his breakfast. Which brings us to probably the most important aspect of calling that is how to choose your "stand". This requiring a small pamphlet to do justice but in brief it is not wise to simply apply deerstalking technique that is to put wind in your face. Oh no, Mr. Fox is far more cunning in his approach to how he wishes to ambush YOU than that!
I meant to comment on this ages ago but got diverted. Nice post K, and some great pictures too. Keep up the good work (both writing and foxing)
I feel the stirrings of a further instalment in the air!