Foxing in the UK: work or sport ?

Published on 26 May 2016
Author: Peter Moore
Fox control does it work and what’s the best way to do it? Fox hunting with dogs and horses has been banned in the UK for a number of years now, much to the delight of the antis. Personally, I could never really see how a bunch of guys out for what is in effect a pleasant morning’s gallop could have any real affect on Britain’s alpha predator! For make no mistake Charlie is one smart animal and serious threat to game shoots, domestic fowl and even young livestock like lambs. Plus their urban incursions are not good either. So we turn to the gun as foxing has become a big industry with various calls, lamps and all sorts of night vision optics along with specialised rifles.

Two way split

However, it has also taken two distinct paths – 1 the professional pest controller and game keeper who wages an all-out war on foxes – 2 the hobby shooter who sees it more as sport/varminting. Truth is these two groups do not necessarily compliment each other as the latter are usually less experienced and if a fox is shot at and missed and the lamp or call over used then it will quickly learn to avoid this sort of thing. Plus they can pass this on to their off spring too. Speaking to keepers indicates that lamping is no longer viable and newer generations of foxes are almost born more savvy than before. So they have turned to night vision and more recently thermal optics to give them a stealth advantage.

Ironically and much like fox hunting on horseback does not yield great results, so to shooting them is very labour-intensive. You have to be out late at night, know how to call and chances are you will get a few animals but results are usually in ones and twos. A keeper told me that when you factor in the time, cost of fuel and all the other aspects and the fact you might not even see your quarry then shooting is not as effective as you might imagine. He said that traps were if not the solution; certainly something that only requires putting down and checking as they work 24/7. Go figure!