Pest Control Diary: Suited & Booted
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- Last updated: 17/03/2017
I tend to pick good reliable clothing and above all not expensive clothing and tend to favour Jack Pyke and Riverside Outdoors products. However, I do have problems with footwear, as rank heather really puts it to the test. I find if I have to wait it out, as long as my feet, knees, hands, and neck are warm then I am usually OK. However, if my knees and feet are really feeling the cold, then holding a scoped rifle steady is not easy!
I have proved it more than once, none more so than when I decided to wait it out for a problem fox when the temperature unexpectedly dropped. We’ve all been there, sat thinking I’ll just give it another 10 minutes as you can feel the cold starting to bite, then its stubbornness over common sense. As nagging at the back of your mind- if I leave now I’ll miss the chance, wasting all that time and energy I’ve put in and will have to come back again!
The main thing is when the time comes is to leave the area, don’t walk every inch in a last ditch attempt to salvage the night but return at a different time. Playing the waiting game requires all your concentration, so having the right clothing is essential! And when you have a number of land owners all wanting your services, then the quicker you can deal with one problem the better, plus it helps your reputation!
Years ago, there was one farm I wanted to gain, as I had most of the land around it and I saw it not only as a crossing point for foxes, but the area of rough moorland with reed beds was good holding ground for them too. I knew the land owner but he still would not allow me on until one day I received a phone call and bowing from the pressure of losing precious live stock, he asked me to help.
My first night went like this- as the fox population had been left alone to run amuck there was no reason waiting too long after dark before getting started. I had just bought my Tikka in 223 and the night started as soon as I flicked on the lamp, instantly picking up a fox at just 50 yards. It disappeared as it casually walked behind an old barn. Not wanting to spook it, I took the long way round in the hope of catching it out down field, where I could take a safe shot! However, by the time I made my way round the fox was long gone but at least I hadn’t spooked it, meaning I will have another chance another time
Within 15 minutes of losing it I’d picked up eye shine close to where I had parked the car, not too far from a gate linking the two fields. Resting the rifle on the dry stone wall, lamp on but shining away from the gate lessening the chance of spooking the fox but allowing it to walk into the edge of the beam all worked according to plan.
Moving lamp and rifle as it showed, I picked it up in the cross hairs, I touched the trigger and heard that distinctive meat slap as the bullet struck a large dog fox not 10 yards from my car. An hour passed, when I picked up eye shine in some reads but there was something not quite right about it. Walking closer, it proved to be a pair of foxes mating and locked together with the dog trying to disengage. Sorry to spoil your night I thought, as I put the cross hairs on the vixen dropping it immediately.
I reloaded as quickly as I could, as the dog fox was still pulling frantically trying to break away from the now dead vixen but I jammed the action, allowing it the vital seconds it needed to brake free and make good its escape. But at least I got the one that mattered, as that’s one litter of cubs less to worry about.
If this has been allowed to carry on over the past years, this guy’s livestock must have been taking a real hammering, as well as the surrounding farms. Now that I have access to this hot spot I can hit them early on, keeping the population down and I can cross his land as I go from one farm to another, rather than drive all the way round. What a difference having access to this one farm will make, I was thinking, as I collected the vixen.
I had two in the bag but seeing four in total, so early on, was worrying. I headed off to the boundary wall, overlooking a valley of his neighbour’s, where I’ve had permission over the past three years. Don’t things look different when seeing something from a different angle; now I could see why I kept losing sight of them as they came over the hill and probably where I lost the first one I saw earlier. Also, it’s defiantly a place to watch early on in the year for cubs as they start to explore!
Slowly making my way back towards the car and sweeping the lamp across the fields I picked up eye shine in the field where I had the first fox. Confirming it was a fox I took the shot off a dry stone wall and again heard the distinctive thud of a hit; three out of a possible five; not bad! Over the next few weeks I accounted for a further two, the results were immediately noticed come lambing time, with a bumper crop compared with the previous years. Trouble is he wants me there all the time, so won’t pass my number on to anyone else.
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