Fox control wish list: the vital tools to catch a thief
With the lambing season approaching, Mark Ripley puts together a fox control wish list
Using quality and reliable products that get the job done is exactly what any serious fox controller needs. So I’ve put together a no-nonsense fox control kit list for the coming lambing season.
Fox control kit list
Pulsar Merger Thermal Binoculars RRP: £4,649.95
Just as a good set of optics is a must for a deerstalker, a good thermal spotter is an absolute game-changer for foxing.
The Pulsar Merger LRP XP50 binoculars bring the ergonomics of a standard pair of binoculars with a sophisticated piece of thermal technology, allowing you to spot any living thing by its heat signature. With no external light source from the front of the unit, there’s nothing to give away your presence. It can be used day and night with a range of features such as colour palettes, photo and video recording, zoom magnification and a built-in laser rangefinder at the touch of a button.
Tikka T3x ( in .223 ) RRP from £1,400
I’ve been a big fan of the Sako and Tikka rifles for years, having owned one of the first T3 Lite models released. I’m pleased to report the latest version in the Tikka range retains all the hallmarks of quality that made them so popular from the start. They are accurate straight from the box without modification and are available in a range of different configurations, including a left-handed version.
I’ve always favoured the .223 with a 50-gr to 55-gr bullet for all my night-time foxing. With the calibre offering a fairly flat shooting trajectory, reasonably priced ammunition and renowned accuracy, it’s no surprise the .223 is the most popular fox-shooting round in the UK.
A threaded barrel for the addition of a moderator is another essential feature. Here I have one of the popular Stalon moderators, which offers lightweight and effective sound reduction when I’m shooting at night carrying out fox control.
Sightmark Wraith 4K Ultra RRP: £599.99
When it comes to choosing the right night-vision scope, the choice can be somewhat bewildering with so many on the market. For lots of us, this choice will come down to a compromise between price and performance; the Sightmark Wraith offers the best of both.
This compact night-vision set-up delivers performance as good or better than units costing even three times as much. The Wraith runs on four AA batteries, which will last a couple of foxing outings with normal use, and will happily run on rechargeables.
With an impressive 4-32x zoom, colour day screen, black-and-white night mode, in-built recording and a range of reticle and colour options, this is an excellent value scope in an easy-to-use, no-nonsense format. This scope has allowed me to account for hundreds of foxes — some out to around 300 yards — when used with a good-quality aftermarket infrared illuminator. I recall shooting a pair of foxes sitting yards apart at a little over 250 yards, just as the light began to fade. The scope retained a good colour image and, although the image pixelated at the higher magnification, I was still able to drop both of them with clean chest shots.
Rekon CT1-HD tripod RRP: £439.99
I’ve used probably every popular set of shooting sticks on the market and these are the best I’ve found for fox control. Made mostly from carbon fibre, the tripod is surprisingly light, while giving a strong and stable shooting platform.
The Rekon is fully adjustable for height and offers a full range of motion in any direction, thanks to its ball-head design that can be quickly locked into place. A ‘pig saddle’ mounting clamp is also available that allows almost any rifle to be securely clamped in place, leaving your hands free to use a thermal spotter or caller while keeping your rifle ready and at shoulder height, eliminating unnecessary movement.
Thanks to its clever design, the tripod can be used on uneven ground, and from a standing, seated, kneeling and even prone position. Recently, I was shooting with some friends at the range and we were able to regularly land shots from a standing position off this tripod, on a steel target at almost 1,000 yards away.
FoxPro Inferno Caller RRP £219.95
I wouldn’t be without a reliable fox call. The one I use is an older model — the Wildfire — which has now been replaced by the Inferno caller. I like this model because it’s small enough to pack in a bag or cram into a large jacket pocket, so you’re more likely to actually take it out with you. Although you can never guarantee a call will be effective, I’ve coaxed enough foxes with this caller to know that it certainly works.
Where these callers really come into their own is in the fact that they enable you to reproduce authentic animal sounds and communication calls, as well as all the usual prey distress calls. The other big advantage is that they are remote-controlled, which means you can place the caller out in the field and draw the fox in towards the caller, while you stand out of sight to the side ready to take a shot.
The FoxPro range of callers come with a selection of calls already loaded, but you can also visit FoxPro’s online library and download additional calls of your choice. I also call a lot of foxes using the back of my hand, but if this is a technique you’ve still yet to master, there is also a range of effective mouth callers that I like to use, such as the popular Wham version.
Rusky Silent Jacket RRP: £389.99 Rusky Silent Trousers RRP: £279.99
I’m not really a fan of camouflage clothing because I find it can come across as a little too ‘military’ when you may come into contact with members of the public. Although camouflage can indeed be effective, I believe fieldcraft is far more important when carrying out fox control.
I recall one afternoon sitting against a fence post on a summer evening waiting for rabbits, when a fox slipped through the hedge right next to me. I was dressed in simple dark clothing but the fox remained unaware of my presence. It jumped over my feet before wandering out a few yards in front of me and sniffing around, then it leisurely trotted off across the field.
Deerhunter has always been a favourite of mine when it comes to clothing, being warm, comfortable, hard-wearing and, above all, excellent value for money. For years I wore a Montana jacket and, despite a few holes in the pockets, it saw me through everything the UK weather could throw at me. Since then I’ve invested in several items from its vast range, including the very warm Rusky jacket and trouser set. (Read our list of the best kit for stalking.)