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Fox hunting in the Northern Hunter region
Old 04-11-2010, 04:17 AM
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kombi1976 kombi1976 is offline
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Location: NSW, Australia
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Default Fox hunting in the Northern Hunter region

Being a school teacher, each school holidays I usually make an effort to get away. We were supposed to be heading for a property not far from Nyngan in north western NSW but the rain there stopped our trip. So Peter, the mate I do a lot of hunting with, organized to visit a property just north of the Hunter Valley in NSW. The Hunter region had also received a fair bit of rain and that apparently had attracted a lot of pigs to the property.

I drove up to Sydney last Monday evening and stayed with my folks so I could get to Peter’s place nice and early the next day. I picked up a few things on the way to Peter’s the next morning and was there by 9:30. We packed, refueled and mucked about a little before setting off north to finally arrive there at about 4pm. Unfortunately the rain followed us through the Hunter Valley and then out to the property. I’d stopped to buy a water proof Jacket in Scone and was relieved at this when the rain set in as we began to unpack Peter’s Land Rover Discovery. By 5pm the rain was constant and we got ourselves settled in the small cottage. Compared to the camping adventures I’ve had before on previous hunts the cottage is the Hilton. It has power, running water including a hot water system for the shower, a fridge, oven and stove top and even a microwave. Unfortunately a number of previous users had been less careful with the cottage and it was a veritable mess, especially the bathroom. Nonetheless we were thankful for a dry and comfortable place to stay. The property manager dropped in with one of his farm hands and we chatted with him for a bit and gave him a case of VB as a thank you for the hunting opportunity.

The cottage.

A couple of the locals.

Rain and cloud on the hills.

A quiet smoke as night falls.

Peter prepares his rifles.

Just before 6:30 we put our boots on and gathered up our gear for some spotlighting. The property has tons of foxes and despite the amount of people who hunt there they seem to continue breeding. The manager also said the rabbits were on the increase again so we thought we’d definitely have something to shoot. By now the rain had soaked the ground and we slithered back up the track and headed off to spotlight along the property’s main road which was less prone to damage in the rain. We saw 4 foxes, including one that was only 10m away but it fled and the others were at least 300mm away. I did manage to nail a hare with my Sportco Martini Hornet but we lost it in the dark. Nonetheless we were pretty optimistic about things having seen plenty of game. My only concern was the weather. On our return to the track to the cottage it was in even worse condition so we parked about 25m away on some higher ground. By now all the tread on the Disco’s tyres was full of mud and our boots were the same by the time we reached the cottage on foot so we removed them before entering.

Peter whisked up some spaghetti bolognaise he’d prepared at home and we washed it down with some beer, followed by fruit cake, tea and port. The rain had ceased by then and we resolved to rise early and go for a solid walk in search of pigs and foxes.

On the Wednesday morning we were up at 5:45 and almost about to put our boots on when the rain started again and settled in. We had some breakfast but it wasn’t stopping so I had an hour’s nap and we ended up leaving the cottage at 9am instead and driving out to look around.

More rain in the low lying cloud.

The Disco's tyres choked with mud.

First stop was to find last night’s hare but one of the roaming foxes had clearly scavenged it in the night and there was no sign of it.

Searching fruitlessly for the hare carcass - note the rain to the west.

More rain to the north.

We then drove up into a paddock on the eastern hill, parked the Disco and set out on foot with our rifles and other paraphernalia. We also donned the radio headsets Peter had brought. The walk was heavy going, especially the way the grass and mud stuck to our boots, and it wasn’t long before my feet were soaked and the bottoms of my trousers were wet and muddy. In the end we were away for 3 hours and although we found fox prints and pig sign in the creek bed the walk was fruitless.

Slogging our way through the muddy wet grass.

The winding creek bed.

Muddy boots.....can you pick where the soil stops and the boot starts?

Pig sign and prints in the creek bed above the dam.

By the dam complete with headset - these made it ASTOUNDINGLY easy to move about and communicate with the minimum amount of noise.

We went back to the cottage and stripped and cleaned our rifles of the moisture that had penetrated during our 3 hour drizzly walk. I was thankful my Tikka is a T3 Lite Stainless but I oiled the metal well regardless. We lunched on some excellent chicken soup Peter’s wife had made and then I caught up on a bit of sleep while Peter did some reading. The rain finally stopped in the late afternoon and after some lasagna and pudding we headed out for the evening to try and nail some foxes. Out on the main road I dispatched a second hare using the Hornet’s pet load, a 40gr Nosler Ballistic Tip at about 2600fps.

Hare number 2.

Shortly afterward Peter hammered the first fox of the trip using his Weatherby Vanguard Deluxe 243 and an 85gr Sierra GameKing HPBT. We had reason to believe the fox was actually attracted by the gunfire and was trying to sneak around behind us to get to the dead hare. Dumb move…..

Fox number 1.

We then headed south down the main road and located another fox 350yds away up the slope. Despite using a whistle and a Scotch game caller it disappeared into the grass. This wasn't a great suprise. There have been so many shooters on the property the local reynards are pretty much immune to callers and whistles and in the end we tried making an odd noise like a cross between a crow and a duck in a rectal exam. Sounds weird? It was, but it certainly attracted the foxes' attention. So it wasn't a surprise when we drove around the corner and found another fox sitting in the grass looking at us only 20m away! Peter's 243 brought its end swiftly with a 6mm bullet to the neck.

Fox Number 2.

We then crossed over the creek and saw yet ANOTHER fox on the hillside above us. This time I was on trigger duty with the Hornet. The first shot hit him but he moved just as I pulled the trigger and it paralysed his behind. He ran about a bit but eventually dropped and I finished him off.

Fox number 3.

We turned for home then and almost bagged another fox by the creek at the property boundary but the rest of the population had clearly been informed we were on the hunt and they kept their heads down. Still, a hare and 3 foxes is a good score. We got back at about 2:30am and after a beer and a cup of tea hit the sack pleased with the evening's efforts.

After the late night I didn't rise until 11am Thursday. The weather had cleared completely and the sky was blue and the hills clear of low cloud.

We had a late breakfast and then travelled around to the western side of the property to sight our rifles in. Peter tied a target to a tree 200yds away and we rested on the Disco. My Hornet was fine so I only bothered shooting my T3 9.3x62. Peter sighted his 243 and his T3 Hunter 30-06. All three were fine and we returned for a quick lunch before heading out around 4pm for a walk up the creek at dusk in search of foxes. None were forthcoming and we returned in the dark. We dined on another of Peter's home prepared gastronomic delights - a massaman chicken curry - before heading out to spotlight again.
We dropped in on the manager and his wife and chatted for a little while before heading out in search of more foxes and perhaps even pigs although we were skeptical of running across them during the night. First up a thumped a rabbit through the neck about 80m out with the Hornet.

A moment's silence for an ex bunny.

From there we drove out across harvested fields but there was literally NO game, not even rabbits. There was plenty of wildlife around including roos. We even saw the little echidna (spiney anteater) in the grass.

We returned and spotlighted down the main road again. One hare escaped Peter's 243 because he failed to hold under but I bagged another one.

Hare Number3.

We then headed toward the eastern side of the property but did not linger there as it was now 4am and we were both way too tired. We finally hit the sack around 4:30am and did not take long to fall asleep.

We both got up at midday the next day and Peter, the wizard that he is, served up a full breakfast, including porridge and brown sugar, bacon and eggs, toast & jam and a good cup of tea. We decided to walk the creek on the western side when it got closer to dusk. The property manager had recommended we look for pigs and foxes there as they had been sighted on a number of occasions. We parked close in and stalked for a couple of hours but there weren't even any prints. The only animals about were cattle and kangaroos so we returned to the Disco a little disappointed.

Peter hikes up from the creek on the western side.

Looking west over a dam to the creek - unfortunately the only prints were cattle and roos.

We returned to the main part of the property and this time headed right for the eastern gully we had hiked on Wednesday morning. The ground was much drier and we drove in via the large dam we had the night before. Peter shot at a fox by the dam but missed by a whisker and we headed on up the creek there. We eventually reached the high ground right at the top and suddenly out of the trees came TWO foxes! They were also responding to the callers and running toward the light. Clearly no one had shot there in the recent past. Peter flattened the first with the 243 and then broke the back and the second. It scooted about on its front legs for 20 seconds and then dropped with another shot from the 243. So 2 more foxes.

Fox Number 4.

The drive up there was considerable and we were planning to rise early the next morning before packing up and heading home so we drove back down and suddenly the eyes of the fox Peter had missed before popped up. It wound around in the grass and then suddenly seemed to disappear but Pete, who was now holding his T3 30-06 topped with a Kahles Helia 3-9x42 could still see it clearly amongst the logs. I was basically holding the spot in the place he could see it without being able to see anything. Meanwhile he was chuckling in amazement. "The little bugger is right there! I can see him sitting on the log! He's deliberately not looking at us so the spot won't pick him up." It was a silly move on the part of the fox. Peter was using a rest on the spare tyre on back of the Disco and there was zero wind so the car was steady. He squeezed away a 125gr Nosler Ballistic Tip which positively poleaxed the fox at 250yds. The muzzle blast was considerable as it washed sideways across me and the '06 emitted a footlong flame when it fired. But it was the shot of the trip, no doubt. We returned to the cottage for a few beers, a big dinner and a solid night's sleep before our early morning.

We woke up around 6:15 the next morning and were at the southern property boundary where most of the pigs are trapped by 7am. Peter and I stalked for about an hour and found plenty of rooting, droppings and tracks but no animals. It was disappointing as we'd really been looking forward to knocking over some pigs. The technique the next time we hunt there will be to check the obvious places the first day and then set up a hides in those places and stake them out so we can ambush the pigs as they come through. If you don't use dogs, and we don't, it's just too hit and miss. We returned to the cottage just after 9am and after our breakfast, which pretty much consisted of anything you can fry in a pan, we packed and headed out.
I did spy this old Fordson tractor in a shed nearby. How I wish I had the mechanical nouse to ressurect her.....

I wasn't sorry to be heading home as we've been pretty successful. In my book 6 foxes, 3 hares and a rabbit aren't a bad tally.

Driving south back to Sydney.
Cheers & God Bless
22lr ~ 22 Hornet ~ 25-20 ~ 303/25 ~ 7mm-08 ~ 303 British ~ 310 Cadet ~ 9.3x62 ~ 450/400 N.E. 3"

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