Nice work on that one Mark. You do well to get one if someone's running the dogs on them.
A bit of a nice change for me tonight. Not my usual lonesome self but had the exceptional company of Fox Club's very own Mr Welsh Mike! He'd mentioned about probably going for a thermal in the near future so we arranged a night out so he could have a go with mine to see how he found it. Very graciously offered to drive up to mine, so tonight was the night. As always you're never quite sure how someone is going to be 'in the flesh' compared to posts on social media, but can confirm Mike is every bit the top man he comes across as, and I was delighted to have his company for the night.
Night started off as it should do - pint and a bite to eat at the local pub. Great to catch up and have a chat with someone who does what we all do. I don't shoot with anyone else so was great to have a conversation and share tips and stories from someone else who does the same.
After a bit to eat we headed up to the quarry and the big hill permissions (they're right next door to each other). From the outset we both agreed that getting a fox wasn't really that important tonight, it was more to enjoy the company and for Mike to get the hang of the thermal, so no pressure as far as noise and this, that or the other. Mike kindly agreed to do the donkey work of scanning and spotting, I had the easy bit of dropping them. Headed to the quarry first. This was the area I was least expecting to get a fox because I'd put a fair bit of pressure on it and there's a river that separates it from the big hill, so they don't tend to reestablish themselves as quickly as they do on the hill. And so it proved - nothing seen.
A quick dash over to the second permission and we stopped at a known hotspot and Mike gave a quick scan - nothing about. I gave a few calls with the mouth caller and within seconds Mike directs me onto a fox that appeared from the back of the old mill. Got her in the scope and let one go. Pretty sure I hit her but she did run into the next field but decidely wobbly on her feet. Quickly picked her up again and put down and out with the second shot. Picked her up and could see the blood trail up to her, so first shot did connect but second shot needed to finish the job. Fox number one in the bag.
Headed along the track and then had to tackle a bit of a punishing climb (for me at least) up to the next spot where I'd planned to run the caller). Nothing about as we climbed the hill, but set up the caller at the top of climb, below us on a fence post and got settled. Ten minutes of vixen calling didn't produce anything, so I switched over to distressed rabbit and after a few minutes Mike spots a fox heading up the hill and directed me straight onto it. Got him in the scope as he headed up to about 150 yards away, and thought I'd let him come in a bit more but he got a bit jittery and dropped headed back down. Got the caller back on which made him stop about 170 yards down the hill, didn't think he'd come any closer so put the crosshair on the top of his back and let one go. Heard the round strike home, had a bit of a run down the field then dropped. Number 2 in the bag. A further 5 minutes of calling and Mike again spots a fox coming up the field. Straight and clear directions of where he was made the job of picking him up in the scope a breeze, and dropped him about about 120 yards, dead on the spot. Fox number 3 in the bag.
Happy with the night's work, and with Mike having a fair old drive back home, we decided to head back after another ten minutes of calling. Headed back down the hill and onto the track and Mike spots another fox sat in the field by the farm. Bread and butter shot off the gate post and number 4 (another dog) was down for the night.
Decided to call it a night after that and headed back to the vehicles. Was an absolute pleasure to have Mike's company for the evening, only sorry it was a work day tomorrow or we could have easily carried on. After shooting for so long on my own there was always a concern that shooting with someone else probably wouldn't be as productive, but as Mike's shown, when you've got someone who knows what they're doing straight out of the gate it can actually increase your productivity. I genuinely hope I'll get more chances to shoot with Mike, one of those guys it's impossible not to like, very knowledgeable and knows what he's doing. Sadly he didn't bring the man bag, which was the only blight on the evening, as I was really looking forward to ripping the ****.