Calling in foxes, with Roy Lupton

A foxy treat for Roy before his operation

Close call foxes with Roy Lupton

Roy is usually a man on a mission, but today there is extra fire burning in those eyes. The reason, he has only got a few days sport left before he goes under the knife for operation number 25 on his hips. It could mean he is out of action for some time. So there is no time to waste, it is off to find fallow.

It is half past five and there is a cold snap in the air this morning. Roy’s plan of action for the day is to get on the ground and survey the fallow bucks that are coming in. The ground he is on does not hold any mature bucks until the start of the rut. But they start to filter in at the end of September, beginning of October. That is smack on now, so hopefully we will see a few boys running around and might be able to catch up with a pricker or two. But this morning’s main exercise is to see if there are any bucks running around, what sort of quality they are and get an indication of what needs to be taken out this year. Roy has a few hotspots on this ground and is after a young spiker. The bottom of the valley is a common haunt and we get our first glimpse. But do we bump these animals in order to get to where we really want to be.
“Just giving her a couple of barks to let her know, so that she know that we are here” whispers Roy as he points out a young doe.
Obviously this may disturb the other deer, but Roy wants to give it 10 to 15 minutes. Looking through the corridor in the trees ahead, there is a beautiful vista of the opening in the wood. This time of year is normally very good for deer just coming out of the wood and feeding on the edge here. Roy is hoping some deer will come to the opening.

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As it gets lighter we spot a number of fallow, but there are no males in the group. The wind is behind us one minute and in our face the next. It is difficult to stalk up on deer like this. Especially with a lot of fallow. This means many eyes, ears and noses keeping track of what you do. Roy feels we have had our chance on this side of the ground and he decides to have a bash at a bit of fox calling. We did say he has a lot to get out of his system before the op. For a change Roy positions David with a camera behind a tree and not over his shoulder as usual. He is hoping that if a fox comes in it will be so focussed on the source of the call it won’t spot the camera and we will get some different film shots. Rot takes cover behind a tree and uses a Silva fox call. The plan works brilliantly apart from the breakdown in communication. A fox comes towards the call, sits down, contemplates and then leaves.

Roy stalks through the gloomy morning
Roy stalks through the gloomy morning

“That was absolutely unbelievable” exclaims Roy. Roy refrained from shooting because he was unsure if David had the camera on the fox. Roy mistakes his camera angle, therefore gesturing to David the fox’s location. David in return, is gesturing to Roy. All the grandiose hand movement and jumping up and down spooks the fox which hightails it, exiting stage left. Unfortunate, but worth a go. It is wonderful to the slow approach of a curious fox attempting to figure out what is going on. It would have been a beautiful shot, but due to miscommunication another one for another day. So it is off to go and see what we can do.

Fox number 1 watching the escapades of David and Roy
Fox Number 1 watching the escapades of David and Roy

On the other side of the estate we see signs that mean yet again stupid dog walkers are unwittingly coursing deer. It is astonishing how many ignorant Fenton owners there are out there. You would have thought something might have sunk in by now.

“That is a dog. There is a dog screaming, chasing” observes Roy.

We continue our morning. We spot deer moving through the wood. Roy opts to leave them to cool down. He thinks they could be the spooked lot from before. We crawl into another of Roy’s hot spots, but nothing. We try a bit more fox calling, but nothing. We head after the deer, but Roy thinks our morning may be over.

A cautious fox number 2
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Time for one last squeak and we get a fantastic response. Roy draws on the a few times on the call. Just at the start of the squeak a fox bolts out of the brambles and the call is working absolutely superbly. David waits for Roy to take the shot, Roy is waiting for the fox to give him a clear shot. Roy doesn’t want to move and neither does David. The camera is on the fox, but he is in front of Roy, who can not take the shot because of a tree. Roy has to try to work him round a little bit more for a shot. The fox wants to figure out what is going on and pinpoint the sound so makes to move up wind. Roy knows that if the fox gets up wind the game is up, the fox will scarper.
Roy shoots, the fox is down. However the climax of the action is not caught on camera because as the fox moves round it is caught behind a tree.
We might have missed the shot, but Roy didn’t and we will endeavour to get some more foxy footage as soon as Roy is on the mend.

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