HUNTING

Fox Hunting Tips: Being Craftier than the Craftiest Predator

young fox hunting in meadow
Shawn Harrison
Written by Shawn Harrison

Hunting foxes is not something to be taken lightly. It is something that man has been doing since ancient times, constantly learning and adapting in order to ultimately outsmart and bag the fox.  There have been a lot of lessons that have been learned as time went on and a lot of improvements that have been made along the way.

It was these lessons and improvements that have helped generations of hunters understand and perfect the hunt. It was these fox hunting tips that have helped previous hunters catch this animal and it is these tips that will help you become a better hunter as well.

Understanding the fox

This particular animal is known to be among the craftiest and sneakiest predators out there, always coming up with an intelligent and often times underhanded solution to its needs.

This animal is part of the Canidae family, sharing a lot of physical similarities with small-medium sized dogs. Its diet is omnivorous, the animal preferring to eat insects and small animals, totaling 1-1.5 kg of food per day. The fox will often times hunt and gather more food, storing it in hiding places for later consumption.

fox watching from the grass

The males are often times the more daring and curious, reacting to strange sounds and calls a lot more often than the females. The females, on the other hand, are a lot more aggressive than the males, they are known to attack if cornered or if the cubs are threatened.

Foxes like to lurk and hunt around forest areas, using dense vegetation as natural cover and thick foresting as well as narrow passages in order to escape predators and dangers. Often times it will burrow underground or invade another den in order to shake off its pursuers, bobbing its head out every now and again to check out its surroundings, but still able to lie in wait for up to 12 hours until the coast is clear.

This animal hunts by using various pouncing techniques, waiting in a hiding spot for its prey to come within range, then darting towards it. During the winter, foxes in the northern region of the world hunt by diving for their prey in the snow. They walk around sniffing and tracking small critters and insects, then jumping up and diving head-first into the snow.

They have quite a large vocal arsenal that they use in order to communicate with each other, however, they do so for very short periods of time, limiting themselves to 1 or 2 very short cries. The only exception to that rule is when a female goes in heat.

The most common of their cries are:

  • Whines
  • Yelps
  • Barks
  • Growls
  • Howls

Foxes are known to be nuisances to human habitations, often times finding ways to breach the perimeter in order to steal food and hunt farm animals, causing quite a bit of property damage in the process.

fox in snow

However, they are not officially declared a pest in the United States or the United Kingdom and it is considered illegal to injure or kill it on your property. If it does break in and it succeeds in finding food, the animal will leave a way in which it can enter the property again on a later occasion.

These animals, while smart and curious, are generally shy and very weary, especially when it comes to noises and calls that they do not recognize. When their curiosity gets the best of them, they go and investigate in an evasive and careful manner, going around the source of the noise rather than straight to it.

Foxes are most active at night, they go out hunting at dusk and they sleep during the day. They are able to cover large distances during the night however they will always return to their dens after they are done. The only thing that will make them abandon their dens is if they sense a strange scent in or around it, making them consider it compromised.

The official fox hunting season starts on November 1st and ends on May 1st.

Preparing for the hunt

When preparing to go on the hunt for this elusive prey, you will have to keep in mind that you are not dealing with any simple target, you are dealing with a fox, one of the smartest and craftiest creatures of the forest and you should prepare accordingly.

Fox hunting kittiwakes

First thing’s first, even though this animal is more active at night, you will actually want to hunt it during the day. This is because during the day it is more mellow and thus more susceptible to making mistakes. If, however, you want to maximize your chances of bagging this animal you would want to set up some traps and leave them over night or over a few days.

Before you head off hunting, you will need to get a proper lay of the land first. Get as much information about the area that you will be hunting in as possible, plan your routes carefully and make sure that you have a good understanding of the vegetation that grows in the area as well as the water sources that are available.

In regards to the gear that you will be wearing, you are looking to wear clothes that are made out of cotton or wool and not polyester or other plastic-like materials due to the noise that they make when moving around. A good tip here would be to make sure that they have a camouflage pattern that is well suited to the vegetation in the aforementioned hunting area.

When hunting this animal, it is recommended to travel as light as possible. You will not be looking to set up a base camp or build a shelter, so the actual gear that you will be carrying will mostly be the bare essentials.

It is actually recommended, for the sake of personal comfort, to use a hunting or tactical vest with multiple pockets or storage options so that you can carry all your gear and supplies with you without them getting in the way.

Make sure you have a map, compass and other means of orientating yourself. You will be covering a lot of ground tracking down the fox and the last thing you want is to lose your bearings.

Hunter wearing orange vest

Depending on how long you plan on pursuing your prey, you might want to think about grabbing a canteen of water and some food.

If that is the case, make sure that the food is odorless because if the smell attracts the interest of a fox, it will come and investigate but it will use evasive tactics, circling around and keeping a safe distance as well as trying to remain as concealed as possible.

There are also some products on the market that are designed to aid hunters when pursuing this animal. Fox calls, scent sprays, pheromones to name a few, while they are designed to attract the attention of the animal and create some interest for it to venture in your general area, the success rates vary rather wildly.

This is because of the crafty and intelligent nature of this animal, causing it to be skeptical and weary. The ones that most of the time end up being attracted to these products are the young inexperienced ones, usually around 1 – 1.5 years old, so relying on them in order to get respectable results is something that you do at your own risk.

Picking the right weapon for the job

There are 2 main reasons for which people hunt foxes, for sports or for their pelt. Either way, because of the relatively small size of the animal, not all weapons are a good choice.

The first option on the table here is the bow and arrow. Used for hunting purposes for thousands of years, it is not exactly the best choice when hunting this animal in modern times. The hunter is in control of every aspect of the shot, from the power behind it to the vertical angle of approach.

fox hunter using bow and arrow

It requires a lot of practice before it can be used and it is regarded as being one of the worst choices for beginners, however, it can provide more experienced hunters with extra layers of complexity and entertainment.

The second option is the crossbow. An easier alternative to use, easy to aim, it leaves a very small hole in the pelt and can  put a lot of power behind the shot. It is not as stealthy as the bow, due to the mechanical nature of the weapon, however, unlike pistols and rifles, the ammo is recoverable and reusable.

Third on the table is the most unpopular option of the lot, pistols. Both revolvers and repeaters are equally hated because of the challenge that they pose when aiming for such a small animal. It can be used rather effectively when the fox goes into the open field, however, even then there are other alternatives that do a better job. The only upside to using a pistol is the small caliber ammunition that they use.

The recommended calibers are .22, .32, .380 and 9 mm, all with a rifled barrel to add to the overall accuracy of the weapon and leave a hole that is as small as possible. It should be mentioned though that the .22 caliber pistols are very hard to come by and you might struggle to find one if that is your preferred choice.

The fourth option out there is the shotgun. Very good up close and personal, however, the bigger the distance between you and your target the lower the accuracy gets, so long range is not really an option.

The ammo that  is recommended when hunting for foxes with a shotgun is .41, 28 gauge, 20 gauge, 16 gauge buckshot and 28 gauge, 20 gauge, 16 gauge, 12 gauge slugs. Birdshot rounds are generally not effective in this situation.

Last but by no means least, also by far the preferred hunting weapon of hunters all over the world, the rifle. Rifles are a lot more powerful than all other weapon options presented to hunters. They excel at long range shots, providing the shooter with a lot of accuracy and power behind the shot.

Fox_Hunter holding fox and shotgun.

The ammo that is generally used when hunting for foxes with a rifle is .22 LR, .30 carbine and .300 BLK, anything more powerful than that can actually cause too much damage to the fox, compromising the pelt. An added bonus to the rifles is the wide array of scopes that are available for them, making it possible for the hunter to hit his target from very long range.

An important thing to add here is the fact that traps can be used in order to catch foxes, and there are a lot of them available to hunters everywhere. There are 2 main categories of traps that you can choose from, deadly and non-deadly, depending on the desired outcome. Portability is an issue though, these traps being bulky and difficult to camouflage.

How to hunt down a fox

As mentioned earlier, the best time to hunt for this animal is during the day. However, very few are active during the early hour of the morning. Things tend to pick up around lunch time, the foxes becoming increasingly active as the day goes on.

As you’re walking around, looking for the animal, make sure that you check areas with dense foliage, burrows, and dens. Often times these will provide hints regarding the location of the animal and you might even have the luck of finding one there.

Another good thing that you can do is pay close attention to the ground. You’re looking for fox tracks, which are very similar to dog tracks but with deeper toe indentations and a substantially reduced size.

The animal is capable of covering a lot of ground, however, it does not move in a straight line. When following the tracks, expect to find yourself following a very convoluted and complicated route through the surrounding wilderness.

Every now and again, the fox will head for open ground, like a clearing, in order to relax and raise its body temperature by the aid of the sun. While the fox is exposed in open field, it tends to stick to the tall grass areas. Even so, it is still one of the best situations that you can find yourself in, providing you with a lot of opportunities to take the shot and land the fox.

Fox with grey orange white hair

One of the common misconceptions that hunters have is that the fox can be baited out with food. While it is true that you can get the attention of the animal, you cannot actually use it to lure it out of hiding. What the animal will do is go around the area where the bait is, looking for any signs of danger and anything that they can sense. Often times it finds something that shakes its confidence and decides to just leave it alone.

An alternative to that is using a call whistle to lure the animal out. Using a fox mating call is by far the most efficient option if you want to draw it out, however, you can’t simply stand still, use the call and wait for the animal to pop its head.

What you have to do is use the call and then back up around 30 meters. This is because a fox will hear the call and it will come check it out. It does so by lurking around the area, looking from afar and trying to make sure everything is safe before proceeding.

By sounding the call in different spots with a fair bit of distance between them, you are actually forcing the animal to head in a specific direction and you’re making it a lot easier to spot it and land a hit.

Finally, the last detail that you will have to keep in mind is that this animal is not just fast but also agile. Because of the animal’s low profile and build, it is able to dart off, change direction and evade its pursuers within a blink of an eye. That being said, if it spots you and decides to run it will constantly change direction and seek cover, making it increasingly difficult to see, aim at and land a hit.

So if this does happen, do not chase after it. Let it run off and continue hunting and stalking it because it will not be able to keep it up for a long time. It will eventually tire itself out and, leaving itself no choice but to slow down and go to one of its food hiding spots in order to rest up and replenish itself. This will give you enough time to catch up to it and catch it when it is the most vulnerable when it is eating.

In conclusion

Regardless of whatever your reason for hunting this animal is, whether for sport or for its pelt, or maybe you simply want to catch one and keep it as a pet, there are more than enough tools out there for you to do so.

Hunter standing beside his gun and a fox

As long as you understand the animal and what it is capable of, prepare properly and respect the environment in which you are hunting by learning how to read and react to it, you will eventually return home successful.

This might be one of the smartest, craftiest and weary animals out there, but we can use its own tricks against itself and take advantage of its very nature in order to hunt it down and bag it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shawn Harrison
Shawn Harrison

Shawn Harrison is our expert in hunting. He was born in Alaska, so hunting was his hobby since high school. Later, Shawn took a Hunter Training at Alaska Department of Fish and Game to structure his knowledge and now he is open to share his knowledge with our readers. Shawn is taking ‘Safety First’ approach on all of his trips, especially is some people are going hunting for the first time.

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