Fox's behaviour when shot

Varminting and vertebrate pest control. Small game, hunting feral goats, foxes, dogs, cats, rabbits etc.

Fox's behaviour when shot

Post by NTSOG » 15 Feb 2021, 12:40 pm

G'day,

I shot at a fox two nights ago at about 150 yards. It was eating dog food I had put out in front of my trail camera. The moment I fired I knew it was a rushed shot and I thought I had missed. The fox did not run off at the sound of the shot. It walked around in small circles for about 50 seconds and then sat down looking roughly back in my direction in the dark. It sat for a couple of minutes without moving. I whistled and it seemed to look toward the noise, but nothing more. Then it lay down completely flat. I tried a couple of different calls and it did raise its head briefly, but lay down again. It did not eat any of the dog food scattered around it. 10 minutes after the shot I decided I probably had hit it and started down the hill to finish it off if necessary. I could see its eyes in my red torch as I approached. At about 25 yards from it I unslung my rifle and I lost sight of it. When I looked for it again, it had taken off and I couldn't find it. Nor could I find it the next morning. Some months ago I shot another fox at 135 yards. It ran for about 75 yards and dropped. I watched that one for nearly eight minutes as it lay without moving. Finally I stood up and started walking to it. As I walked the fox stood up and walked slowly up around the next paddock and along it until it reached brush. In the case of both foxes there seemed no urgency as they walked around. My impression was that they were confused if anything.

I suspect I hit them both in the gut and the bullet passed clean through without causing any great shock or immediate pain. Is this the sort of reaction one might see from a gut-shot animal?

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Re: Fox's behaviour when shot

Post by Bugman » 15 Feb 2021, 1:01 pm

I have seen foxes, "belly "crawl away after being shot back of the rib cage. They are masters of hiding if they can move away from the original area, from what I have been told.. Probably one last futile effort to survive.
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Re: Fox's behaviour when shot

Post by Oldbloke » 15 Feb 2021, 1:08 pm

Only had a couple run with 22lr. But then I haven't shot 1000s.
Always 223 or 12g no2s. I am choosy when I pull the trigger though.
What were u using Jim?

P.S. perhaps check your poi
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Re: Fox's behaviour when shot

Post by Larry » 15 Feb 2021, 2:16 pm

I have had a miss on a fox occasionally and they have dived to the ground and done a roll as if they had been shot. Then they must have relised they were not shot and done a runner. A lot when shot just hit the ground stone dead.
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Re: Fox's behaviour when shot

Post by NTSOG » 15 Feb 2021, 2:28 pm

G'day Gents,

I was using one of my .222 Rem rifles with an ATN X Sight II NV sight and a VCSEL [laser] IR light on both occasions. The rifle is currently shooting just under one MOA off the bench and my hunting rest. Unfortunately it's clear I wasn't shooting that accurately on both nights.

What surprised me most was that both lay doggo for such long periods. The most recent one made no attempt to immediately run for cover as many other foxes wounded or not do. The other ran, then dropped, then walked off. It was almost as though they didn't know they were hit which is why I'm thinking that the bullets made a clean pass through their gut areas causing little initial discomfort. It's puzzling.

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Re: Fox's behaviour when shot

Post by Oldbloke » 15 Feb 2021, 4:15 pm

222, assuming chest shot with hunting bullet, that would never happen. Would be dead in seconds. So, i guess as you suggested, gut shot..Unless your using FMJ bullets.
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Re: Fox's behaviour when shot

Post by NTSOG » 15 Feb 2021, 5:02 pm

In hindsight I should have taken a second shot when the fox sat facing me for a couple of minutes two nights ago. That would have knocked it over.

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Re: Fox's behaviour when shot

Post by Oldbloke » 15 Feb 2021, 5:28 pm

I guess a hole in the gut was not obvious? Didn't think to look?
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Re: Fox's behaviour when shot

Post by Larry » 15 Feb 2021, 5:32 pm

I guess that's were the saying "Playing Fox" comes from ie pretending to be asleep. To trick by ingenuity or cunning :
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Re: Fox's behaviour when shot

Post by NTSOG » 15 Feb 2021, 6:37 pm

Oldbloke; "I guess a hole in the gut was not obvious? Didn't think to look?"

They both scarpered into cover and I never fond them to confirm where I hit them.

Larry I don't know about "playing fox', but if I did gut shoot them they'll need more than a Bex and a good lie down.

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Re: Fox's behaviour when shot

Post by SCJ429 » 15 Feb 2021, 6:37 pm

The saying is "playing Possum"

I would say you missed the fox, any sort of hit would have had an immediate reaction and you would hear the noise. Try using Zmax or TNT and a bit more speed, were you shooting a Centerfire?
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Re: Fox's behaviour when shot

Post by NTSOG » 15 Feb 2021, 7:33 pm

G'day SCJ429: "any sort of hit would have had an immediate reaction".

Well there was a reaction in both cases. The fox two nights ago was eating scraps of dog food when I shot at it. It reacted to the shot by ceasing eating immediately and walking around the area where the food was scattered, then sat and later lay down for well over 8 minutes before my close approach caused it to run off about 13 minutes after my shot. The fox at which I fired some months ago took off at a gallop for 75 yards then dropped and lay still on the paddock. My experience of unwounded foxes spooked by a close gunshot is that they don't stop for a rest in the paddock or sit looking toward the shooter. They run as fast as they can for cover.

I'm afraid my elderly ears are protected by ear pugs. People tell me that they can hear bullets hit target animals, but I can't. I was shooting 50 gr. Federal .222 Rem ammo at 3140 fps. out of a Weihrauch 60J rifle.

The point of my original post is that I would normally expect a scared or wounded fox to run off out of sight without stopping. These didn't, hence my confusion. Their reactions were atypical leading to me wondering if I had hit them in the gut [the bullet passing clean through without expansion] so that they didn't feel any great pain or shock at that moment.

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Re: Fox's behaviour when shot

Post by JohnV » 15 Feb 2021, 7:51 pm

A shot that just grazes the head can do that they get knocked out and then come too and run off . A high lung shot with a low power cartridge will also allow them to run off some distance but usually fall over dead .
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Re: Fox's behaviour when shot

Post by SCJ429 » 15 Feb 2021, 7:52 pm

They are not normal reactions to being shot, I have shot one or two foxes and your description is something I would expect from a young fox when a bullet flys past him and he does not know what it was. A poor shot that does not kill him might get the fox biting at the impact spot thinking something is attacking him. Or they jump away after the hit and are distressed.

I used 40 grain Zmax in a 222 and they are devestating on foxes, even a gut shot would stop a fox in its tracks. I have been using a 39 grain Speer TNT out of a 204 and you have to head shoot them if you want anything left of the pelt, even at longer ranges.
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Re: Fox's behaviour when shot

Post by SCJ429 » 15 Feb 2021, 8:03 pm

I once shot a rabbit and a fox had been sleeping nearby was startled by the gunshot and ran a little over 200 metres away before stopping to look around. He then decided to do a poo which gave me time to get a shot off and that was the end of him. An older fox who had heard gunfire before would never stop and do that.

Another time I shot a rabbit and then a young vixen ran up and grabbed the rabbit. Unfortunately for her, that gave me time to cycle the bolt.
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Re: Fox's behaviour when shot

Post by Oldbloke » 15 Feb 2021, 9:33 pm

Reading again Im thinking perhaps you clean missed two pups.
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Re: Fox's behaviour when shot

Post by NTSOG » 16 Feb 2021, 5:43 am

G'day Oldbloke,

As I said, at the time I fired both shots I thought I missed. It was the strange behaviour of both foxes after the shots that made me think I might have gut-shot them. I couldn't understand at the time why foxes, if uninjured, would drop to the ground and lie down for a lengthy period of time in the open on a grazed down paddock after shots were fired at them. Such behaviour is not sensible in terms of survival. To my eye both were fairly mature foxes.

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Re: Fox's behaviour when shot

Post by Oldbloke » 16 Feb 2021, 8:42 am

Sorry Jim, can't help.

Where I've been going lately, as cunning as sh1t house rats. Lol
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Re: Fox's behaviour when shot

Post by NTSOG » 16 Feb 2021, 11:30 am

G'day Oldbloke,

All of a sudden I'm seeing foxes again, both on my property and on neighbouring properties. I did get a young and dumb one ten days ago. He came in from behind me I think and sat 35 paces to my right in long grass. I was actually packing up - the mozzies were fierce and there were no customers in sight. I was just putting my rifle in the case when I spotted two eyes in the light of my head torch. He kindly sat and waited looking at me while I set up the rest, turned on the NV, loaded the rifle and aimed, as you recommend, straight into his chest. I had another come out last night on my place, but too far away. An acquaintance was wondering if the blighters aren't that hungry as the season has been very good for growing and there's lots of tucker around.

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Re: Fox's behaviour when shot

Post by Oldbloke » 16 Feb 2021, 12:39 pm

"An acquaintance was wondering if the blighters aren't that hungry as the season has been very good for growing and there's lots of tucker around."

Interesting point. Not responding to any of my whistles for ages. Had one come in behind me 2 outings back. Could smell the bugger. Slowly turned just in time to see it running in grass.
Last trip I went for a walk. Was coming back same way and could smell where one had a pee right beside the pad. Bugger sent me a message me thinks. Lol

Might head out in the morning and check my camera. Guess one will pose with a 2 finger salute. Lol
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Re: Fox's behaviour when shot

Post by NTSOG » 16 Feb 2021, 1:16 pm

Last night's visitor was not especially interested in my whistling and soft mouse "squeak'. It had a look in my direction a couple of times, then wandered off into the bush. I'll see if I can set up for it tonight by sitting in another spot.

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Re: Fox's behaviour when shot

Post by Oldbloke » 16 Feb 2021, 1:25 pm

I have developed a lot of respect for foxes over the past 3 or 4 years. I don't get out a lot but if you only hunt during daylight they can be very challenging.

Oh, and the xsperts on YouTube don't tell you about the unproductive days out.
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Re: Fox's behaviour when shot

Post by RoginaJack » 16 Feb 2021, 2:12 pm

I'd suggest more target practice tome with the night sight (should sort out zero) . The idea is to cull, not educate. Also, the odd behavior could be a few of last years litter out on their own and not used to/confused by gunfire.
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Re: Fox's behaviour when shot

Post by Ziege » 16 Feb 2021, 5:42 pm

my experiences have always been that injured foxes only go so far before stopping to have a pity party for themselves, if in doubt clout the bastard again, mind you I tend to only shoot them with things that completely eviscerate the animal into a pile of once was fox, but yeah... a leg shot or something tends to end with them being maybe 50m to 100m away sooking.
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Re: Fox's behaviour when shot

Post by Bello » 17 Feb 2021, 10:01 am

Hi Mate
I use 55gr V-Max in my 223 on them. It does wonders. None have ever complained.
I find the v-max drops them on the spot.
Usually makes a big mess on the way out.
I have seen a fox shot square in the chest with a Sierra target round. It jumped about, looked like foamy blood coming from the nose. Then fell/rolled into some blackberry bushes, never to be found.
Pups, in my experiences, sometimes tend to stand around when a shot goes off.
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Re: Fox's behaviour when shot

Post by NTSOG » 17 Feb 2021, 11:40 am

Ziege: "my experiences have always been that injured foxes only go so far before stopping to have a pity party for themselves"

Yes I've noticed that, but I have also noticed others that flop and look dead, but then jump up and run off. I shot one through the left front shoulder and out the right rear body a few months back. It flopped and twitched for a few moments then lay there. I waited for five minutes or so more to be sure it was dead, then stood while watching through the scope intending to go check it. As I started to move from about 70 yards away it jumped up and bolted up the hill into the bush next door - at least 190 yards - and I never found it. Now I'm certain I hit it because when I walked out to where I shot it I found its right hind lower leg.

They are tough little blighters. I've learned not to rush over to check them immediately in case the lights are not fully out which is what I did with the one at which I shot a few days ago. The same applied to a cat I shot a few months ago: it lay apparently dead from a shot through the chest for about 15 minutes until I shot a fox which appeared to fall on the 'dead' cat which then jumped up and ran off out of sight.


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Re: Fox's behaviour when shot

Post by on_one_wheel » 17 Feb 2021, 12:36 pm

I've completely missed a fox and it took off doing cartwheels... there's another trained fox.

Stupid, impatient rushed shot.

If in doubt I don't squeeze the trigger these days.
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Re: Fox's behaviour when shot

Post by Blr243 » 17 Feb 2021, 6:58 pm

On one wheel. It’s great to read NOT TAKING THE SHOT UNLESS BEING VERY CONFIDENT ... it’s shows respect for the animals, keep up the good work
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Re: Fox's behaviour when shot

Post by on_one_wheel » 17 Feb 2021, 9:29 pm

Blr243 wrote:On one wheel. It’s great to read NOT TAKING THE SHOT UNLESS BEING VERY CONFIDENT ... it’s shows respect for the animals, keep up the good work


Nothing worse than a poorly placed shot, It plays on my mind for a very long time, I do everythingI can to avoid it. I'd hope everyone took measures to help prevent it from happening.

Id definitely encourage everyone who hunts to punch lots of paper regularly to stay sharp, learn about shot placement for an ethical kill, keep your range to a known trajectory pattern, know your correction factors intimately before extending your range, learn about the effects of retained energy at distance for your given projectile to gain an understanding of what maximum huntng could potentially be, never rush a shot and as you said DONT TAKE THE SHOT UNLESS YOUR VERY CONFIDENT. They'll always be another chance.
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Re: Fox's behaviour when shot

Post by Ziege » 17 Feb 2021, 10:41 pm

I absolutely hate people who educate foxes, and I refuse to take them shooting.
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