When it comes to protecting game or livestock, Mark Ripley depends on reconnaissance and the right gear; here he shares his ideal set-up
Early recon pays dividends when tracking Charlie, but reliable kit also makes the job much more effective. Here is the best fox control kit which I use regularly, essential for any foxer trying to protect game or livestock.
The Inferno from Fox Pro is an ideal compact caller activated by remote control. With 75 pre-programmed calls and the ability to store up to 200 in total — additional calls can be downloaded from the Fox Pro website — this electronic caller replicates prey distress sounds of various animals and birds, as well as fox communication calls.
It’s highly effective at bringing foxes into range. The great advantage is that foxes are drawn to the caller rather than towards you, meaning you can remain hidden from view and attract your quarry to exactly where you want it. I find the rabbit calls are the most effective at this time of year, as foxes search for additional prey to feed hungry cubs. There are more advanced callers in the Fox Pro range but this compact version is the most practical choice and is ideal for attracting curious adults. You should definitely have one of these in your best fox control kit wish list.
Getting within range of your quarry is one thing, despatching it humanely is another. A practical and accurate rifle is, of course, a key part of a foxer’s set-up and one of the most popular options has to be the T3 from the well-respected Tikka range. A must in my best fox control kit. This rifle offers renowned accuracy and reliability straight out of the box, with a silky smooth bolt action and good handling capabilities, perfect for even the more challenging shots.
Due to their popularity, these rifles are available in a wide range of stock configurations, barrel lengths and calibres, including popular foxing loads, such as .223, .22-250 and .243. I prefer .223 when I tackle foxes and I know the T3 will deliver the round reliably every time, no matter the distance.
The biggest challenge when it comes to fox shooting is locating your quarry. Much like a good pair of binoculars are essential for stalking, a thermal spotter is a must for anyone serious about fox control.
The Accolade thermal spotter is the flagship of the Pulsar range, but the Accolade 2 Pro is the jewel in the crown. This unit not only features clear, sharp image quality, but also a variable magnification range and highly accurate built-in laser rangefinder.
With a detection range of up to 1,800m, this unit is about as good as it gets for spotting foxes at range and, with its rechargeable IPS7 battery, the unit will easily manage a full night of action.
The double eyepiece design helps alleviate eye strain with prolonged use, as well as reducing noticeable night blindness often found with monocular designs. It’s a big outlay, but well worth it for the serious pest controller.
As with any night-vision device, performance is greatly enhanced with the use of a high-quality, powerful aftermarket infrared illuminator — and the PBiR range offers the perfect choice.
Adjustable for intensity, with a fully focusable beam, these market-leading units provide all you need to illuminate moving targets out to extreme distances.
Running on a single 18650 battery, this illuminator lasts for a night-long shooting session and is the perfect accompaniment to the Sightmark Wraith HD scope. The added boost it supplies is exactly right for picking out foxes that might otherwise be beyond the capabilities of my night-vision scope.
With most fox control carried out under the cover of darkness, a reliable night-vision scope is a great option in the best foxing control kit. You no longer need to break the bank to find a good-quality one, either.
The Wraith HD — with its 4-32x magnification, night mode and colour day screen — is an easy-to-use, no-nonsense offering from Sightmark.
The night vision and thermal market continues to evolve apace, but the Wraith HD holds its own, its performance comparable with — and exceeding — units costing two or three times as much.
The benefit of having a single scope that performs in daylight and after dark cannot be overestimated, especially when staking out foxes at dawn and dusk. The extended mounting plate is another useful addition when using this scope with a bolt-action rifle, such as the Tikka T3.
Originally designed for military applications, the Rekon tripod system uses carbon fibre technology to provide a sturdy yet lightweight shooting platform. The fully adjustable sticks can be used from any shooting position and are the perfect solution when setting up for shots after dark and over awkward terrain.
The ball head at the top of the tripod clamps solid, allowing it to hold your rifle, leaving your hands free to use a thermal spotter or caller. With the ability to rotate through 360 degrees without moving the legs, it’s perfect for those times when a suspicious fox tries to move around you to get downwind or comes into a call from an unexpected angle.
The Rekon tripod is available with the pig saddle clamp mount that I use, or alternatively it can be attached directly to a Picatinny rail mount on the bottom of your rifle.
Using the best fox control kit in the field
With the lambing season in full swing and foxes under pressure to find extra food for growing cubs, it is a vital time for foxers across the country. Those with permissions on sheep farms will be aware of the damage that can be done when the lambs arrive. Likewise, a rogue fox can cause carnage in a release pen. (Read how to build the perfect release pen.)
I recently found an active earth close to one of my lambing permissions. A few days of reconnaissance established that at least one fox was using the ground as HQ to take advantage of the newborns in the neighbouring field. I’d assessed the routes the fox preferred to use and so, as the sun set one fine evening, I prepared my foxing kitbag and set out to deal with the culprit.
The last of the daylight was disappearing when a small flash of movement at the edge of the field caught my attention. I scanned the undergrowth with the Pulsar Accolade 2 Pro thermal spotter, waiting for the white heat source to move and confirm it was indeed a fox.
My thumb hovered over the mute button on my Fox Pro caller’s remote control. The unit was hidden on the other side of the lambing field. If the blur was a fox, the last thing I wanted was for it to come dashing from the cover and find the caller before I had the chance to take a shot.
I eased the rifle round on the Rekon tripod. I quickly peered through my Sightmark Wraith night-vision scope, returning to the thermal in time to see a fox emerge from cover. I let the caller continue and, once he was confident the coast was clear, the fox focused his attention on the source of the dying rabbit sound. As he moved towards the caller, I muted it to make it harder to locate. Foxes are clever, though, and he had already pinpointed the location of his target.
I got into position behind the rifle, flicking the PBiR-L infrared illuminator into action. As I did so, either the illuminator or my movements caught his eye. He froze, side on, looking at me. I was on him and the Tikka T3 .223 spoke justice. The fox crumpled as his legs gave out beneath him. After the loss of several young lambs in this corner of the field, I felt sure I had succeeded in accounting for the guilty party.