Shooting Politician hunts foxes


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Chances are that if you are flicking through the pages of Sporting Shooter Magazine, you may well suffer from the same affliction as me. That’s right, you know the one! Symptoms seldom vary, and often result in heavy sweats and rapid heartbeats, all of which are brought on by sleek craftsmanship, beautiful timber and deeply blued metal. Sound familiar?? Yep, I was right. You are definitely a gun nut!!

The vast majority of gun nuts are genuine law abiding citizens, who take the responsibility of firearm ownership very seriously. Let’s face it. You have to be of good character to even be considered for a firearms licence.

It is for this reason that I get so hot under the collar to hear of Governments talking about introducing “Ammunition Bills” and the so called “Three Gun Policy”, all of which are designed to decimate the firearms industry in Australia. Come on, are you with me yet?? Yep, it is time for the shooting fraternity to come together as one, look for alternative methods of positive publicity and start fighting to protect our sport and way of life. With this in mind I set forth, armed with information from a few mates at the YouTube channel “Field Sports Britain” (Google it, it’s a fantastic show) to try my hand at making a positive contribution in lifting the profile of  sporting shooters and the valuable service they provide in assisting landholders with the control of vertebrate pests throughout Australia. With no great experience, I thought that I would stick with what I knew. Being a mad keen fox whistler, I started sending off emails to relevant media outlets in an attempt to entice some sort of response in regards to running a story on fox predation and control methods, both conventional and traditional.

Some months later, I was sitting at work when my mobile rang. To my surprise, on the other end was Sean MURPHY, an award winning journalist with the ABC television programme “Landline”. Sean and I spoke for about 30 minutes and I was pleased to hear that Landline was interested in compiling a short story on Fox Control, featuring my home area of the New England region of New South Wales. Sean asked if I could organise all he needed and informed me that he had a window of two days over  early September 2012 to film. So, I informed Sean that the prime fox whistling time had gone, but that was the only slot available. It fitted perfectly with lambing season.

Numerous phone calls later to farming friends and acquaintances at the LHPA office (Livestock Health and Pest Authority) saw the story coming together nicely. Baiting and trapping are some of the more conventional methods of fox control utilised by landholders and the LHPA.  I was keen to incorporate these aspects into the program, to demonstrate just how tricky it is to bait or capture foxes. For the more traditional methods, I intended to enlist the help of my good mate and larger than life character Ron Kiehne of Silva Fox Whistle fame. Ron is a master predator caller with 50 years of experience in the game. I was convinced that if anyone could call a fox during mating season, it would be Ron, using his fantastic Silva Fox Whistle. If not, we could definitely wound the Landline crew at the bar of the Glen Legh tavern.

The Silva Fox Whistle is an improved adaptation of the old jam tin style fox whistle, a whistle which has been in the Kiehne family for over 100 years. The unique sound emitted by the whistle proves irresistible to even the most cunning of foxes. During 2011, Ron and I called in well in excess of 300 foxes utilising the Silva Fox. Some of the old myths associated with fox whistling were well and truly busted that year, so I was confident that there would be few problems calling foxes for the camera during the difficult mating season. Ron was happy to assist as always and the Landline crew were keen to see how foxes would react to the whistle and discuss the time honoured traditions of fox whistling.

Being viewed by a large multinational television audience, I thought Landline would be the perfect platform for some of our Politicians to come on board to support the cause. With help from Sporting Shooter editor Marcus O’Dean, I was able to track down the Honourable Robert Borsak MLC (NSW Shooters and Fishers Party) who was only too happy to assist, lending some muscle to the argument. Robert is a true gentleman and is most deserving of support in the New South Wales Parliament. He is also no slouch with a shotgun, ably taking out a fox on the run at 60 paces with a load of Winchester number 2’s.  

Friday September 7th, saw the Landline crew arrive in Glen Innes. Sean Murphy and crew spent the day in the glorious New England with Andrew Davidson (LHPA Ranger) and graziers Jim Coleman, Ed Moohead and Andrew Landenberger going through the finer points of baiting, trapping and cost both financial and environmental of fox predation in Australia. It was very pleasing to see the landholders argue very strongly in favour of ethical sporting shooters and the contribution that is made by them in reducing fox numbers. Everything was going to plan!!

Saturday however, dawned to howling westerly winds. Overnight temperatures had been cool with wind that would blow the proverbial dog off a chain. Not to be perturbed Ron, Robert Borsak and myself travelled out to a property that we hadn’t whistled for some time, followed closely by the Landline crew. In earnest, all six (yes six) of us headed into the scrub with cameras, large fluffy microphones, sound equipment and various armaments ready to do battle with Reynard. We found a likely looking spot overlooking a well timbered hillside dotted with blade grass. With heads popping up behind rocks and backs to trees, Ron let rip with the Silva Fox. Seconds later, a lone fox appeared amongst the timber and trotted in towards the whistle. At a distance of about 30 metres, the fox propped looking straight down the barrel of the Landline camera. Sensing something wasn’t right, the fox was promptly dispatched with a shot from the .17HMR. The Landline boys were ecstatic, having never seen a fox called in before. In such difficult conditions, it just goes to show that the Silva Fox is a whistle that really works.

Two gullies over, again saw the six of us backed up to various trees and rocks. Again the combined note of the whistle drifted down the gully. Almost immediately, Sean pointed out a fox making its way up the head of the gully towards our position. Coming flat out, I shot the fox at about 10 metres with a load of number 2’s, which saw her fold on the spot. Another fox came in behind us, but managed to wind the team before any footage could be taken. The fox shot on camera turned out to be a vixen. She had obviously beeen suckling a litter so that kill was a good  result.

Saturday turned out to be an great day with The Silva Fox and Robert Borsak interviewed on camera, making  an exciting and informative segment. It’s good to know Landline is keen to film more programmes in our areaon Wild Dogs, Rabbits and Feral Deer, focusing strongly on shooting as an effective means of pest control. No doubt I will keep you posted.

You know, wherever I go, Sporting Shooters continue to be a friendly and welcoming bunch. I have not been to a competition clay target shoot yet where I haven’t been made feel at home. I truly believe that shooting is a fantastic family sport, which deserves our support by whatever means. I am hoping that the Landline Program will help in a small way to portray shooters as an ethical, valuable asset that should not be hindered further by unnecessary and crippling legislation. After all, we need all the support we can get to ensure the survival of such a fantastic lifestyle.

Landline’s “Fox On The Run” aired on Sunday October 21st 2012 and now features on the Sporting Shooter website also. The segment was well produced and gave fantastic support to sporting shooters in general. A strong argument was also put forth in relation to introducing a fox bounty into New South Wales to give shooters an incentive to keep up the good work. To view the Landline segment, go to the Silva Fox website (www.silvafoxwhistles.com.au) and access the Facebook page. A link to the programme has been created for easy access.

This article was first published in Sporting Shooter Magazine February 2013


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