Fox Stories – Contributions from Fox Hunters Across Australia

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 South Australia

This guide has been prepared to better inform, bring clarity in having a successful, safe & enjoyable event.
Organised fox culls have been a regular occurrence in the Eudunda / Kapunda areas since the 1950’s. 60+ years of these events have proved very successful for local farmers & the environment.
These culls have been well attended by a wide section of the community. Farmers obviously make up the highest proportion of the shooters group but not limited to.
Shearers, shed hands, truck drivers, logistics co-ordinators, packaging supervisors, the “retired”, conveyance lawyers, policemen, pathologists, vignerons, postal managers, mechanics & in the last 2 years we’ve had 4 different women join us!

The need
For some time the Australian red fox (Vulpes vulpes) has been noted as an enemy of the Australian farmer. Foxes usually attack young & vulnerable livestock but increased study and awareness of this predator shows they like our native fauna & flora as well. Turtles, frogs, lizards, insects – & even some berried plants are all fair game as far as they are concerned.

At the start of each event, every shooter will be required to sign a waiver & release form so as to free all organisers & land holders from any liability as far as Australian law will allow. The intent is not to make these events complicated nor costly, so this is the path that has been chosen. There is no insurance cover in & around these events so the onus is on the individual to look after themselves & each other.
*Insurance: not a bad idea to become a member of the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia (SSAA). You automatically get third party damage cover for up to $20,000,000 as part of being a basic member.
Recognised Australian Firearms License
Obviously this is a prerequisite to have prior to any of these events.
Hunting Permit
If you are involved in the hunt then you must have an up-to-date hunting permit from the Department of Environment & Natural Resources. This can be obtained from –

Shotgun – Well maintained & in safe working condition.
Ammunition – Enough to last for the day. Usually a box of 25 will suffice. **Shot size no larger than BB**
Food – BYO. Don’t forget to have a few small snacks to take along to help sustain energy.
Drinks – Obviously no alcohol. Water or energy drinks are ideal as most culls cover 10 – 20 kilometres during one event. You don’t have to walk all the sections on the day but it’s good to have sufficient to keep hydrated, carried or with support vehicles.
Communication – Mobile phone & a hand held UHF radio is a great place to start. Mobile phone reception in some of places we go cannot be guaranteed so having the extra piece of communication is an extra string in the bow for peace of mind.
UHF contact between line walkers & blockers / drivers is perfect. Mobile phone for “off-site” communication is a great tool.
Clothing – Weather plays the big part here. For the time of year these cull events are held, it’s going to be more than likely warm to hot. Being prepared is important as conditions can vary a lot.
Checking forecasts prior to a cull is always a necessity in helping to make good decisions on what to wear.
Hat – In sunny conditions a wide brimmed well ventilated hat is a must for the time you’ll spend in the sun.. In cooler conditions a baseball style cap to keep you warm as well as keeping glare from your eyes. Your ability to see is one of the key senses you’ll be using so help yourself as much as you can. Sun cream: a sensible option.
Eye wear – ideal to have to reduce the risk of insect damage e.g.; grasshoppers springing up, reducing sun glare & “blow back” should the rare possibility of firearm failure occur. Also wear adequate, comfortable ear protection.
Shirt – I find a long sleeved thin cotton shirt is a good universal option if the day starts out cool & ends warm. Hi-vis clothing is a must for safety. Foxes are no more startled by Hi-vis than any other clothing. *Orange over yellow seems to be the best choice – definitely without reflective tape
Socks – decent long socks that are comfortable & have the ability to draw perspiration away from your feet are a good investment. Some swear by bamboo socks but I haven’t tried these yet.
Sock savers – also worth having as they stop seeds & stones falling down into your boots.
Boots – good ankle supporting style will be beneficial. Make sure they fit well & have good grip.

Points such as –
1. Shotguns are the only firearms to be used.
2. AAA or larger shot sizes are excluded due to their ability to carry longer distances – not what’s needed in a group setting.
*BB is usually the shot size of choice although some prefer 1’s or 2’s to gain a fuller shot pattern .
3. Over & under, side by sides & single barrels are to have their actions open when not in use. Similarly pump action & auto loading shotguns are to have their actions open.
4. While passing through / over fences shotguns are to be unloaded & made safe. Relying on a Safety catch is not enough!
5. It’s each shooter’s responsibility to keep in view the shooter on both sides of them. The position in the line you take determines where you are to hold your immediate neighbours position. When necessary you are to hold the line up when necessary should it be starting to go out of shape.
Refer below for what the line should generally look like.

Group Walk Pattern

The Hunt
Hunters should be of a reasonable level of fitness capable of walking up to 20km in a day.
Hunters should be acquainted with the weather forecast and arrive punctually for an early start.
Hunters should form and hold to the pattern illustrated above, walking 40-50 metres apart. Hunters should only shoot forward, but should a fox break through the line, extreme care must be taken when turning to shoot behind, Do not point your gun at other hunters under any circumstances.
As an example if you are in the centre of the line, your field of firing can only be “forward” & “behind”. “Forward” means firing in a 10 o’clock to 2 o’clock range & “behind” means a 4 o’clock to 8 o’clock range. Obviously the 2 wings have to adjust their firing field relevant to where the hunters are either side of them. As a guide, at least a 60o buffer around them should be allowed.
*Under no circumstances is a shooter to fire to their immediate left or right.
If a fox runs through the line shooters are to wait until it has passed & enters the safe firing zone.

Remember, this is a collaborative effort. The aim is to cull as many foxes as possible. Competing with other hunters to be the one to shoot the most foxes, is not in the spirit of the hunt.