The Five Yard Fox

Calling Foxes in Close

Roy Lupton may look like a mild mannered man taking a stroll in the woods but don’t be fooled. With the coast clear, he nips behind a tree and transforms himself into “The Human Leaf”. It’s not the most flamboyant of costumes but he needs to be brown, buff and beige if he is to defeat his nemesis… The Fox.

Roy is going to have an experiment, to have a call and just see exactly how close he can get some of the foxes. Unfortunately the conditions today are about the worst you could possibly want for calling foxes. Roy reckons we are going to have to rely on one of the harsher calls to punch into the wind to try and call the foxes from up the hill in front of us. The plan is simple. How close can The Human Leaf get to the most cunning of adversaries? It’s going to require stealth, skill and a very tight fitting ghillie suit from Jack Pyke.

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David knows Roy can see a fox but frustratingly he’s too low and can’t see over the rough stuff – but Roy is happy with the first blast.

The set up, Roy had there, a vixen had made her way down and had tucked up behind a log about 20 yards away from him, no more than 20 yards and she was just sitting there.
“I was just scanning around and the only thing I saw was the white underside of her jaw as she was just trying to make out what was going on and she sat there for about ten minutes and where we were obviously dressed like this, she didn’t know what was going on.” explains Roy. The interesting thing is if Roy had been standing there with a shot gun, the vixen would have been shot and it would have been over and done with and you wouldn’t have seen the behaviour of the vixen. Unsurprisingly the vixen just didn’t have the confidence to come in the last 15 yards, but again with this wind you expect this. They don’t like committing a 100% with this wind. The second stand is a great place to show this suit off to its best. This time, Roy decides to lie low. He does like experimenting with calls but, when he gets the Silva fox call out, you just expect there to be some excitement. This time we get a glimpse of what can happen. David anticipates the fox appearing on the other side of the tree but he stands there, eye-balling Roy, then he does one. Roy flaps around thinking we have world class footage. Instead the gods are against us once again. “I have never done this before in this sort of scenario, when I am not shooting” says Roy. “So when you see a fox coming in at you like that at eye level you are thinking do I want to carry on calling, is he going to carry on.” The fox came in to the call, but he couldn’t make out that Roy was a person, he just looked a little bit uneasy. Mr fox was no more than 8 yards away from Roy. Plenty of time to shoot him with a shot gun. Not so cunning. “You couldn’t have missed, well I could have done, but hopefully not.” jokes Roy.

Having got so close we take the bold step of dedicating more than an afternoon of filming to this subject matter.

A few technical problems meant line of sight was blocked for the cameraman
A few technical problems mean line of sight is blocked for the cameraman

For this next outing, the Human Leaf enlists his sidekick “The Incredible Hairy Bulk”. He too, despite his size, is cuttlefish-like, becoming one with his environment. The two of them look a formidable pair and surely no fox in the land would ever think danger lurked around the next tree.

Alas it’s a no-show on this one. The Incredible Hairy Bulk is sent back to get the Leaf mobile, sporting a casual beach like jog. It’s looks like Baywatch for yetis.

The next position delivers the wrong sort of canine as a dog bounds over. Roy has to explain to the owners what we’re up to. As usual he’s as polite and friendly as he can be, despite being dressed as a hedge.

“We are calling foxes. Trying to reduce the fox population.” Roy explains to the startled dog walker.

For the third stand of the day we’re back where we had a response a few months ago. Again, it’s a 360-degree gamble as to where we stand for a fox response. The law of SOD once again comes into play. Unseen by the camera, Dom (aka The Incredible Hairy Bulk) has a fox appear within a few yards to say hello. Roy keeps calling and a minute later a second one comes within range. Roy and Dom get into position and as soon as Roy starts calling, Dom turns his head to one side to spot the fox was already there, only five yards away. It picks up the movement, as Dom turns his head so the fox bolts. By the time Dom mounts his gun and takes the shot it just cuts behind the tree stumps, unfortunately it’s a swing and a miss for Dom. Frustration swells in Dom as he thinks he has ruined the stand. However Roy is a man of greater perseverance carries on calling. It wasn’t long before there is another bit of movement towards the bramble patch and it fox number two appears. Normally Roy wouldn’t continue calling, after a shot has gone off. He would only do a few calls to see if there is anything else. But Roy calls again and really gives it some and the second fox comes out. “So yes, very pleased with that. Just a shame we didn’t get that one on camera.” says Roy. It’s a great result but again we’ve failed to get the shot of The Human Leaf plus confused fox in frame.

Woodland is perfect for the Human Leaf
Woodland is perfect for the Human Leaf

We dedicate another day to the cause. This time we get two responses. The first fox goes unseen until Roy stands up. It’s tucked up in the brambles 30 yards away. This one spots the camera. Never before has so much time been spent trying to get the perfect shot on Fieldsports Channel. Roy knows the ghille suit works but we want that 5 yard image.

This time we’ve brought more cameras, however the Go-Pro becomes a No-Pro and dies, so we’re down to two. It takes at least five minutes for our first fox to appear in the undergrowth, who knows how far he’s come? David spots him but Roy has no idea we have a customer. Before he gets too close he is startled by an unruly cameraman. Rather than just concentrating on the sound, the fox was trying to look and see what was going on as well. He probably just picked up some of the camera movement or a bit of David flicking about there. David has got the tendency to be a bit like a meerkat when anything goes on and you just can’t have sharp movements when you are foxing. Everything has to be very, very slow. Just twisting and looking very softly, but David hasn’t managed to get that quite yet, he is too much of an excitable child. We know the foxes are receptive today, so we at least feel we have a chance here. Roy puts himself inside an old pheasant pen. One camera is facing away down a ride and the other is going to try and stay still. Yet again, Roy can’t see the incoming fox, it moves quickly to start with then slows and stops. Moving off, we try and anticipate where it will emerge from the brambles. Finally, Roy spooks it trying to make sure the camera is on it. It’s not a totally clean shot but we hope it’s proved a point.

The Human Leaf
The Human Leaf: it’s Roy

Hunting is all about understanding your quarry and it is also about appreciating your quarry as well. It is not just about going out there and killing and slaughtering. Obviously when we are shooting foxes we do that for a reason. We are having to control the numbers, but you still respect and admire your quarry and part of that admiration is understanding your quarry, understanding the animal and just seeing exactly what you can do. For Roy that was just brilliant, being able to get that close to one. “In all honesty it is nice just to tip your cap and let them on their way” says Roy. The ground we were on posed no threat to any game or livestock. At some point they may move on from here and on to other land. Then they will have to be dealt with. While they are on that ground, they can be left alone and we can have some fun with them.

With his work complete The Human Leaf returns home safe in the knowledge that he’s still can bring foxes into places that other callers can’t.

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The five-yard fox