Red Fox hide and seek

MrFox1MrFox2

(‘Black Paws’ was picked-up on my Bushnell Trophy ‘Feeder Cam’ just prior to completing his ‘hide and seek’)

 

I must admit, I find foxes to be fascinating and intelligent animals. I have observed them around my place over the years and never have I seen one sick or mangy looking.

I do realize; however, that the red fox is the largest carrier of rabies but from what I’ve read, the Aerial Baiting programs over the years have really put a dent in the disease. You just don’t hear about rabid foxes as you did 20 years ago.

That is certainly a good thing!

Around my place, the foxes are great hunters too! We’ve watched them pouncing on meadow voles in the back field, and sneaking through the brush in search of a snack.

Although I always knew these animals created ‘caches’ to store extra food, I have never witnessed it first-hand. Nor have I ever realized how long these food caches are kept around.

On January 29th, Mrs Outdoors Guy and I were sitting at our dining room table having breakfast, when Mr Fox(now known as ‘Black Paws’) appeared on the property.

Fox1Jan

“He’s got a black squirrel in his mouth!” I whispered (I know the ‘black’ squirrel was really just a colour-phase of the grey squirrel, but I still call them black)

By the way, snatching-up a few squirrels is something I do not have a problem with. These critters create havoc on our bird feeders and have chewed through more than a few items on the clothesline over the years!

So, my wife and I watched intently (with camera in hand) as Mr Fox slipped through the neighbour’s fence towards our place and proceeded to drop the squirrel in the snow. 

Fox2Jan

“Look, now he’s digging a hole” my wife said.

Fox3Jan

Within a couple of minutes, the fox had dug a small cache and was burying his squirrel.  We couldn’t believe how he used both his paws and his nose to complete the task.

Incredible!

Fox4Jan

 

Since this display on January 29th, we never saw the fox return to his cache and it has since snowed almost a foot!

 

Then yesterday – March 5 – Mrs Outdoors Guy was getting ready for work when she noticed some movement on the property.

Hey, it’s Mr Fox again. He’s back!!

Evidently the fox had returned to dig-up the catch he buried 5 weeks ago!  My wife called me up on the phone and starting taking pictures.

Fox1March

Fox2March

After digging-up his prize, the Fox made short work of eating the well-aged (and completely frozen) squirrel. Since fox’s really don’t chew their food, it gets swallowed in large chunks.

Fox3March

 

I feel extremely fortunate to have not only witnessed this predatory behaviour, but for my property to play host to it. One’s interest in fish and wildlife can extend beyond hunting and fishing.

Observing and documenting wildlife behaviour and habits is another of my favourite pastimes 

 

 

Outdoorsguy

51 thoughts on “Red Fox hide and seek”

    1. Rob, that fox is a good sized one..you figure its the same fox showing up at your bait pile all the time?

      Outdoorsguy

  1. ive watched a few from the tree stand, beautiful and graceful animals. also followed fox tracks and they always remind me of the old family circle comics. man they put a lot of milage on looking for food. great pics mr and mrs outdoor guy

    1. MdDan, you got that right about these animals putting on some miles…they are smart with great endurance as well.

      Sap running today??

      Outdoorsguy

    1. Thanks Hunting mom, these sort of things are even more fun when you share them with other outdoor enthusiasts.

      Outdoorsguy

  2. neat story! You’ll never look at that spot again without wondering about that fox 🙂

    I had a neat experience with a fox while deer hunting last fall. I was standing on a rock overlooking a pond on one side and hardwoods all around. This fox came out of the bush and walked to about 8 yards from me. I was perfectly still and he just stared at me. Then he moved to my right a few steps, stopped to put his nose up trying to sniff me and kept doing that until he walked to where the wind was going from me. After he caught my scent, he just bolted.

    I was a tad bummed about that b/c I had the no scent stuff on so I was thinking he wouldn’t be able to smell me (although he didn’t until the wind was right at my back and he was in the perfect spot).

    I may have that footage on my headcam. I’ll look for it 🙂

    1. Yes, I have always enjoyed seeing the foxes around…especially when they’re as beautiful and healthy as this guy “Black Paws” – as I’ve started to call him.

      I just checked my ‘Feeder Cam’ yesterday and you’ll notice a couple of new photos I posted above. It seems it was actually a couple of ‘live’ squirrels nibbling on my deer feed that attracted Black Paws in the first place. Once there, you could almost see his mind working:

      “Hmmmm, ok do I chase the live ones today or dig-up that old one I buried in January?”

      I guess we know which way he went with that…as 5 minutes later he was digging away!

      Outdoorsguy

      I think the trail cams photos turned out great too..I was a bit disappointed at first with the shadows; until I thought about it.

      “Black Paws…look better in the shade!” Get it??

    2. That’s right Keebler, I’ll be staring at that spot on my lawn from now on!

      If you ever come-up with that footage from your head-cam, I’d love to see it!!

      Outdoorsguy

  3. That’s my guess, I’ve stopped baiting that site so he will be off again. I wish I could catch him during the day, but I think the coyotes keep him in the denser bush.

    1. Rob, I have noticed the same thing around my place. I guess unlike the raccoons, foxes really do have a fear of coyotes!

      Outdoorsguy

    1. Thanks Alain D, I think it was just a matter of being in the right place at the right time…twice! Of course, several people have noted that Mrs Outdoors Guy’s photos(from March 5) were much better quality than mine from
      Jan 29th.

      She always brags about being a better photographer than me..hehe

      Outdoorsguy

  4. Nice pics Jeff. And what a great opportunity right in your back yard to boot. It is neat to watch a fox hunt a mouse or a vole.

    1. That’s right Trap, I consider myself lucky to see this stuff up close, and Im hoping the overall health of these animals remains good.

      What are you noticing with regards to the fox in your area? Seen any sign of illness, mange or the like?

      I’m actually not even sure if the MNR has the budget for Aerial Baiting anymore..guess we’re lucky that Fox rabies seems to be somewhat under control.

      Outdoorsguy

      1. OK, there you go. Just grabbed this from the MNR Website:

        Ontario’s rabies control programs are so successful that several states and provinces have adopted the same programs. Incidence of fox strain rabies is down 97 per cent since 1989, with only 44 cases in 2007.

        Outdoorsguy

        1. Another interesting tidbit on Rabies in Ontario:

          From 2003 to 2008 there were only 600 rabies cases, an average of 100 cases per year and an overall decrease in rabies by 93% from the 1958-1992 period.

          Bat strain comprised 56% of the cases and raccoon strain 1%. Foxes accounted for only 3% of all rabies cases. The baiting programs were very effective in lowering fox rabies cases.

          According to this stat, we have a lot more to fear with bats than we do with foxes.

          Outdoorsguy

  5. Nice photos and observations Jeff.

    Fox numbers are definitely up. I had three brought in last week alone. One did have a little mange on its back legs.

    1. Hey Rick, do you think the mange could spread from the coyotes to the fox populations?

      In your experience, do coyotes actively prey on foxes? I dont imagine they’d be easy to catch..and would probably have a lot better endurance than a coyote in a pursuit.

      Outdoorsguy

  6. Jeff I doubt coyotes actively hunt fox but they are very intolerant of their competition and will kill them given the opportunity.

    Not sure about the mange situation but I did request info on two black squirrels I have in my yard. One has no hair on its tail and the other has patches missing on its flanks.

    The answer from MNR is that mange is species specific and they would look into the possibility it could be spread to other species. I asked because I was concerned about my dog.

    1. Geez Rick, the only worse than squirrels, I think, would be squirrels with the mange!

      I’ll be interested to hear what they say about those mangy-looking critters you have around your place.

      Outdoorsguy

  7. I hate squirrels
    long tailed rats
    almost as much as I hate raccoons
    and I hate racoons
    saw one cross our street last night, and saw a rabbit too,
    Speaking of seeing things
    the geese are back, I heard them honking last night and saw two snow geese and a big flock way up there on my way to work in Kanata this monring

    1. I hear you Iggs, my disdain for squirrels runs nearly as deep as my hate for raccoons!

      Outdoorsguy

  8. Turkey season is coming up, got an e-mail from a friend that I bear hunt with in Sudbury who wants to come down to Ottawa to hunt turkeys with us.
    That’s along with seeing the geese is bringing some sunshine into my life. I hate winter almost as much as I hate racoons 🙂

  9. Jeeze Iggy are you so grumpy because you are not still in Cuba or is it because of the way the Leafs are playing.

    GO SENS GO!

    1. Hey, you guys take it outside now! Wait a minute, we kind of are outside now..

      Go Habs Go! (Sorry, was that out loud?)

      Outdoorsguy

  10. We’ve done very well with fox this year. Not one had mange. Yote catches are down though I guess they’re all in town eating shitty diapers, dog food, cats and poodles.

    We do however contribute to the health and welfare of the animals on our line by feeding them carcass’ from a fox farm, these are fox that are properly medicated and fed from the day they are born in captivity.

    1. thats sounds good Trapper, how were prices at the last sale anyway? Did they hold strong all winter?

      Outdoorsguy

  11. dont worry guys spring is here the redwinged black birds are back.. robbins have been around all winter…. and the trout are being caught hand over fist in the ganny…

    1. Chessy, is your friend down the road boiling yet?

      My father and the boys back home have been scrambling to get tapping and preparing lines. Hopefully they make some good syrup this year before the weather goes crazy!

      Outdoorsguy

  12. Saw three deer at the cottage yesterday, on the sides of hills that the sun has melted all the snow off, almost missed one, they are the same colour as the dead grass. All three looked really healthy, I guess they wintered well, and this week should really make for a short winter for them.

    1. Iggy, thats nice to see!

      Sadly, Ive seen more coyotes around than deer these days. Saw one yesterday morning in a field about 300 yards from Trim and St Joseph..bugger!

      Outdoorsguy

  13. We counted 35 on the way home from the cottage. They were all on sunny, south facing hills.

    The wolves killed a dear on the ice near our cottage. We decided to put the trail cam on the carcass, although there was very little left on it. We were hoping they would come back to it. We left it for two nights and the only photos we got were of two dear investigating the carcass. We were surprised by that. You would think they would stay away from it.

    1. Hunting Mom, one of the deer at my place had to be put down by Police last week..and the next morning the other deer were right there checking him out.

      Sad to see, that’s for sure..yet a predictable end none the less.

      Outdoorsguy

  14. Went to the camp on friday for a walk. I went out on a huge marsh with the intention of going strait across when some movement caught my eye so i stopped to look.Right out in the middle was close to 20 deer that had bedded on the grassy spots out in the sun.Tails went in every direction and i’m sure there were more that i did not see. They looked in great shape. Last year they looked malnourished but certainly not this year. The turkeys also look great with a total of 17 counted.

    1. Paul, that is a very encouraging sign..and I predict we’ll see a high number of fawns this springs..hopefully anyway!

      Outdoorsguy

  15. Went back up to the cottage again this morning and saw a bunch of deer and some turkeys too
    This is a great time of year to go through the bush, you can find last falls racks that fell off and see the spring right before your eyes.
    Looks like we are going to take a trip up to our deer camp on Friday just to check things out

  16. Since the rabies baiting program has been carried out in Ontario for the last 20 years or so ,it seems to me that the population of not only foxes but fisher, martin, and other small predators have all increased.At the same time rabbits, partridge and song birds are on the decrease even accounting for cycles. I base this of course not on science but purely on what i see in the area I hunt and fish.Am I wrong or is this another case of experts solving one problem only to create another?I’d like to get your opinions and observations.

  17. I agree bob m, seems that ever since the fisher pops went up, the rabbit and grouse pops went down. Now the experts would say that this is not scientific, and that’s true, but if everyone seems to notice it, it’s probably correct

  18. Bob
    I think Grouse numbers are down where we hunt in WMU58. There was a time when we had enough to freeze and enjoy at Christmas; not any more. Now that I think about it, we rarely see rabbits any more.

    1. Hey guys..sorry, was out of town for a few days…spring break and all.

      Checked my trailcams when I got back this weekend..and in one week alone I got pics of the following wildlife:

      – Eastern coyote
      – Red Fox
      – Eastern Chipmunk
      – Ruffed Grouse
      – Wild Turkey
      – White-tailed deer
      – Red squirrel
      – Grey squirrel
      – Eastern Cottontail
      – Common raccoon

      Not to shabby for 1 week! Obviously critters are coming out of the woodwork in the warm weather..gotta like it!

      Outdoorsguy
      P.S. Dont worry, I’m working on a new Blog post

        1. Interesting comment just came-in on my old “Cancellation of Ontario Spring Bear Hunt” post.

          Outdoorsguy

  19. I just read it! … Lauren better get ready for some great replies from some of the regulars bloggers! Ouch! get ready Lauren!

    1. I dunno Alain, I think this one may be too far gone already..one of the people who still thinks we’re a bunch of blood-thirsty k*llers!

      Hey…notice any huts left out at Petrie this year??

      Outdoorsguy

  20. Jeff: I presently hunt off of Dwyer Hill Rd south of Munster, and on Monday morning as we headed in to our deer stand my son dicovered a set of very fresh tracks in the mossy forest floor. being a moose and deer hunter for the last thirty years or so I knew they weren’t either. So my son took pictures of the tracks and at the end of the day we heded home and looked up the track size and type, turns out they were Elk tracks. My son and I went out for the evening hunt on Tuesday and at 5:00 we heard the bugling begin and he went on for about 15 min on and off. What a beautiful sound he made. I have contacted the MNR in Kemptville to let them know about him. If he should trip one of my game cams I will send in the pics.

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