Article courtesy of SSAA’s Australian Shooter Magazine. Please click on the hyperlink to view the Australian Shooter Magazine’s official homepage.
Late summer is a great time to be in the bush, scouting for the upcoming deer season, trying to find a big billy or two and looking over the local hog population searching for those cagey boars. But the hunting doesn’t stop there as we have a heap of ferals to keep in check and there is always plenty of excitement when we decide to call in a few native animal killers. It’s easy enough to finish work and head out for evening walks after a few vermin that are usually snooping around. There is plenty of food in the bush for them at this time of the year from young birds and rabbits to marsupials and reptiles and with the younger foxes gaining independence there is plenty of opportunities to coax them in.
We had a memorable afternoon on the hill recently when we got a call from a farmer who had been having troubles with foxes and cats building up in numbers. His wife has a passion for native wildlife and we were only too happy to head out and help.
A feral cat has eluded me for a long time and I believe they are one of the harder animals to get an arrow into. They are constantly on the alert, always near cover and never seem to be in a rush to go anywhere, these traits make them difficult to locate before they have sensed your presence.
As we made our way over a ridge, a big gully choked with timber and blackberries greeted my mate and we smiled knowing this would be a perfect place to set up a calling stand. The blackberries sure are tough to move through, but the introduced pests just thrive in this habitat.
I chose a good position with height to increase my view, and some timber behind me for my Lamellar ContraCAM Fade to blend right in. This is important, as you don’t want to skyline yourself making every movement visible to all incoming animals.
Knocking an arrow I put pressure on the lips and started working the tin whistle. A few loud urgent calls to start with before gradually easing down the tone and volume normally gets the attention of any predators within earshot.
Three or four minutes passed before I heard intense squawking from ground birds 50 metres away and this normally indicates predator disturbance. The tenterfield whistle was again put to use and finally movement up ahead caught my attention.
A large feral cat was slinking his way to my position and focused on getting an easy meal of underground mutton. This would be my best chance at a big feline and I slowly drew and settled my anchor when he was 30 metres away. At 20 metres I was thinking about taking the shot but with a good wind and great camouflage I had no doubt he would continue closer so let him pad his way confidentially towards us. At 10 metres I touched off the trigger on the aid and sent an arrow scorching through his chest and out the back.
The cat leapt high in the air as though he was stung hard by a giant wasp, bolted a short distance and ran out of steam a few leaps from the heavy cover of the blackberries. Approaching him I wondered how much damage he had done over the years on native animals and I certainly was pleased with my trophy class cat.
A short few days later I was back out with another mate and we looked over a number of deer including some promising bucks. These were left alone and we found a good timbered gully with plenty of ground cover to give the whistle a blow.
Sometimes action happens pretty quick and the foxes seem to be hungry for a feed and this session they were switched on. In no time a dog fox streaked in and he raced close for an easy meal with no idea we were waiting in ambush. All he got for his efforts was a broadhead through the front of his chest and his lamb killing days were well behind him.
My mate and I moved carefully over to the downed fox and we noticed a second reynard coming in on the same path as her fallen mate. I gave the whistle a few squeaks to keep the interest up and the fox loped straight in. My mate waited until the fox paused around 10 metres from where we stood and sent an arrow deep into its vitals.
She dropped on the spot and my mate and I were stoked to have taken a great pair of foxes barely minutes apart.
The beauty of being able to call in foxes and cats whilst using archery gear certainly helps the farmers out and gives the local wildlife a break. We can effectively cull these pests even when hunting other game as the opportunities present and it’s a great contribution all hunters should do by shooting a few foxes and cats from time to time.
Another memorable fox encounter happened a few weeks later, which happened to be in the middle of the fallow rut. It was a nice day with the bucks making plenty of noise and as we were closing in a group of deer with a decent buck in the group a fox stalked his way across our direction of travel.
He was pretty keen to sniff out a feed and didn’t notice us close by as he worked his way around a few pieces of timber on the ground. I took the opportunity to close the distance whilst he was distracted, drew my bow and eased out from behind a tree trunk to settle my pins on him. Mountain foxes always looks good and this one was no different and when I sent a broadhead smashing through his rib cage he jumped in the air and took off downhill. He only made it 40 metres though before he was slowing down and eventually his legs gave away before falling lifeless into the dirt. He was a great bonus for the day and we continued stalking the deer after a couple of photos and a removal of his skull.
A few key points from my summer of vermin hunting to take note of are:
- -Always move slowly when calling from stands.
- -Be downwind of where you expect foxes or cats to come from.
- -Give the set plenty of time as often foxes will take a while to come in.
- -Vary your pitch of your call to closely imitate a wounded animal loosing strength.
- -Communicate with the farmer to find out where they have been seeing pests of late.
- -And wear appropriate camouflage to blend in with the Aussie bush.
I have been giving the new range of technical clothing from Lamellar a thorough test run across the South Pacific and the new products these guys have recently brought out is simply awesome. A complete technical layering system that will cover every situation a hunter will come across and our success on all game has increased since we started wearing camouflage specifically designed for the habitat we hunt in.