Wednesday, December 15, 2004
Beth with fox and estate in background.
We got out late, but it turned out for the best because when Jan arrived she said she'd just left a farm that had six or seven fox settes and "some of the best looking earth's you've ever seen." The farmer wanted the fox moved.
I'm a slow learner and a quick forgetter, but even I know you rob banks because that's where the money is. How far is this farm?
The farm was about 30 minutes away and it was more than promised. The first sette was right next to the driveway up to the house and it was occupied despite the relatively warm temperatures. If it gets any easier than this, I can't imagine!
Pip went in and we netted the hole. Pip snorted and snarfed, and after a while we could hear her working. We waited for a bolt, but nothing happened. We boxed and the dog was clearly in a stem off of the pipe that connected the two holes -- this fox decided to hold up in a blind end rather than bolt to the net.
Pip clearly had the fox up close and there was no getting the dog out now. We boxed again and then began to dig. The digging was fairly easy and we popped into the top of the den about five feet down. The fox was dead under a load of collapsed dirt. Pip may have throttled it, or it may have died from a cave-in as we dug to it; it's hard to say. Pip seemed to be without new marks -- though after a full week in Canada working raccoons the week before, it was a bit hard to tell. Pip's had a good year, that's for sure!
The fox was also in good shape despite the fact that Pip was not that interested in having it pulled out of the hole. The fox was a young vixen weighing 10 pounds with a 11.5 inch chest and a 40 inch length. She was in perfect shape and had a very fine coat. She was a black tip -- not even a single dot of white at the tip of the tail.
My goal with fox is to never dig on a sette or kill a fox -- just put in a dog and let it bolt free or to a net as required -- but sometimes (rarely) other things intervene.
Beth skinned the fox while Jan and I wandered down the field with some more dogs, both of telling jokes the whole way. The next hole was blank and the next too, but on the fourth hole Mountain slid in and opened up.
This was another fine-looking fox sette, but unfortunately it had only one eye. We netted the exit on the off-chance that Mountain might be able to get behind the fox. We waited. Mountain continued to work the fox and after about 40 minutes we boxed her and decided to dig as darkness was not too far off. We never broke through due to a hard layer of rock nearly five feet down, and perhaps due to being a bit off with the box (where the hell was this pipe?). We were very close and Mountain and the fox reved up as we got near. Jan was peering down the entrance hole and I was banging hard with the bar when Mountain backed up under the sound of the digging, with the fox right in front of her.
By now it was dark, and we decided to pull off from the hole and see if Mountain would come out and if the fox might bolt -- she had been working the fox for about 2 hours. Mountain came out after about 10 minutes and I scooped her up -- a solid puncture through the top of her muzzle and a rake down the snout, but otherwise OK.
The fox still did not bolt to the net. We sat and watched it for another 10 minutes, but it was now quite dark and getting cold. We decided to pack up and award the round to the fox. This was probably the large dog fox that the land owner had mentioned when we saw him earlier in the day -- he had been right that the one in his front pasture was a young vixen.
When we got back to the vehicles I examined Beth's excellent skinning job -- a nice clean cased fox pelt. Waste not, want not.
Beth and Jan are fine ladies to go digging with and, as always, we had a lot of laughs. The dogs were fine, the land owner was happy -- all in all, a perfect day.
Beth and Jan -- great fun in the field.