When it comes to predator hunting, the coyote gets most of the press and most of the pressure these days.
But back when I was a young buck, the red fox was the only game in town in my part of the country. The coyote had not yet taken over the Midwest and East. The fox and coyote might be cousins, but they are not friends and in the real world, the big dog wins.
That is why, wherever you have strong numbers of coyotes, you will find few red fox. But even though the numbers are not what they were in the 1960s and 1970s, there are still enough fox around to keep it interesting and each winter I spend a lot of time hunting fox.
The thing I like about fox is that unlike coyotes, you can use a spot and stalk technique on them. Coyotes nearly always bed down for the day in some kind of cover where they are impossible to see. Fox, on the other hand, are fond of sunning themselves on sun-drenched snowbanks or snoozing the day away right out in the middle of a snow covered stubble field. Often you will find them laying along fencelines, on the lee side of rock piles or curled up beside or on top of one of those big, round bales so common these days.
I drive the country roads and stop at all high points to glass. I use a good pair of 10-power binoculars to scan for suspicious looking objects and then zoom in on the object with a variable power spotting scope to make sure that what I am looking at is really a fox.
Before I owned a spotting scope, I pulled off some dandy stalks on rocks, clumps of cornstalks and once the rusted bottom of a five-gallon pail — all of which looked to me like a curled up fox from one-half mile away.
But if the snow is crusty a fox will hear you and wake up before you can close the distance. When snow conditions are bad, I like to try to get within 200 yards and then use a coaxer call to entice the fox to come to me. Actually, it only works on about three out of 10 fox, but it’s worth the try. Besides, even if they don’t come to the call, at least they will usually stand up or sit up and give you a bigger target.