Fox hunting at night during winter
Hunting foxes in Switzerland is quite a challenge. Contrary to other countries, you will have to follow specific and strict rules that make this task much harder. Since I like a challenge, I decided to try to hunt a fox during winter for the first time. After two months of freezing in the night, here is what I learned.
If you want to hunt a fox you will need to get an adequate license to do it. In our region, you will need to order the “E permit” (small predators license). This will allow you to hunt predators like foxes during two months: January and February.
Then you will have to understand the specific rules concerning fox hunting. The first one is the hunting hours. During winter, we hunt predators at night. So you can only go to your hunting spot from 04:00 PM, up to one hour before sunrise.
The tricky part is that you aren’t allowed to use artificial lights or thermal/night vision tools. So how can you hunt in the dark?
The trick is quite simple and effective, you need to wait for snow and a full moon. I am still amazed by the amount of light you’ll get when these two factors are present.
Believe me or not, you’re allowed to shoot from your car. This is something I still don’t understand but hunting rules can be odd sometimes. I decided to not do this though, as my car is not very comfortable and I know I’ll get bored quickly if I have to stay in it all night long.
Regarding the rifle I use, I got a new Bergara BA13 rifle in .223 with Vortex optics. It’s a small and light rifle, single shot. We are not allowed to use silencers during hunting. So you have to be sure to be able to reach your target if you decide to take the shot.
After understanding all these rules, I was ready to go fox hunting without lights, night vision, or a silencer. As it was my first time, the task sounded impossible.
Choosing a good spot is essential to get a fox. A good spot is a place where you can hunt safely. That means you need to be far enough from any housing. In my case, I for an open field that is not surrounded by houses. The field is sloping which means if I take a shot, the bullet will land in the terrain and won’t continue its trajectory somewhere else.
Don’t forget to conceal yourself: find a spot at the edge of the forest for example, or you can also buy a camouflage hunting tent.
I chose this spot for two reason. The first was that some friends told me about the presence of some foxes in the area. The second was that friends of mine owns a chalet near the spot which I could use if I got too cold. It also give them the opportunity to make fun of me leaving the chalet in the dark and cold, and they found it funny to name the as-yet mystery fox: Diego.
Foxes are clever as fu**
You probably know the expression “clever as a fox“. After one month of hunting this animal, I started to fully understand the meaning of it. Even if I sprayed my cloth with some no scents solution the animal was smart enough to spot me. And it was only after two weeks that I started to understand his pattern.
All the food that I put to bait him was eaten the day after the hunt. One night I decided to do a test, I placed food on the spot I was and left for two hours. When I came back, the food was eaten and there were fox tracks in the area.
After that little experience, I knew that there was a fox in this spot and that he would be pretty hard to get.
Get ready to deal with the cold
Hunting during winter means that you will have to deal with very low temperatures. The day I started fox hunting, the temperature was minus 16 degrees and it was snowing like hell. When you don’t move you get frozen in less than one hour. Fortunately, I have very high-quality gear from Sitka and Swedteam. Even with that, I had to wear five layers of clothes to get through the night.
Funny fact, the first night I forgot to bring a blanket so I put myself in a game bag. This was not a good idea as the bag was not clean, not comfortable, and very noisy. I looked foolish and I was still freezing.
The final meeting
You’re probably waiting for the happy end of this story. Let me spoil you, I didn’t get the fox but I at least had the chance to see him. One evening, I had to move ten meters up from my original spot. This is where I saw him, just staring at me. He was 100 meters at the top of the field. From my original spot, it would’ve been impossible to see him. We watched each other for 30 long seconds. I was super happy to see him with my own eyes, but then I started to wonder about his strategy. Was he here every days watching when I was coming and going, and taking the opportunity to eat the food I left?
If this theory is right, I am not afraid to tell you that I have been fooled by a fox for two months. Hunting is a constant learning curve. As a hunter, I underrated an animal that is, by definition, a predator. I overlooked that he’s evolved to observe his prey without being seen.
This experience taught me a lot about hunting, myself, and the fact that a game bag isn’t an effective substitute for a blanket!
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September 8, 2022 | Hunting stories
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