In Denmark, we’re not used to large predators.
However, this has changed since the wolf’s incursion into Jutland.

The fox, or Vulpes vulpes as it’s called in Latin, is the only predator in Denmark in the Canidae family. In term so of size, in the Danish fauna it is surpassed by both the otter and the badger, which both belong to the Mustelidae family. On the other hand, there is no other animal that can strike fear into chicken keepers and excite hunters as much as the red lightning.

Fox distribution


The fox is widely distributed in the northern hemisphere, and is one of the most successful predators because its unique ability to adapt enables it to coexist with man.

Just think of the ‘urban fox’ as we call it, which confidently prowls the streets and residential neighbourhoods, feeding off all the refuse we humans discard.

The fox’s superb adaptability however has had catastrophic consequences in Australia where it has been introduced. It has spread over vast areas, and has been blamed for the extinction of several indigenous animal species. Therefore, the fox has now earned itself a place on the list of the world’s 100 worst invasive species.

Red fox

The fox in Denmark

In Denmark, the fox is found all over the country except on Bornholm and on some smaller islands. It does not require a lot of its biotopes, as it quickly adapts, providing there is enough food. Even though its teeth clearly indicate that it is a carnivore, it also likes berries and other vegetable foods.

Small rodents make up the bulk of the fox’s diet, but it eats everything from insects to fawns. And if the opportunity arises, it is not averse to chickens, piglets and lambs, much to the farmer’s irritation.

In Denmark, there are four fox variants. The most common is the red fox, but there is also the ‘fire fox’ (brandræven), the smokey fox (moseræven) and the cross fox (korsræven).

The ‘fire fox’ has an almost black underside and does not have a white-tipped tail. The cross fox, as the name suggests, has a dark stripe down its back and across the shoulders, forming a cross, and finally there is the smokey fox, where the middle part of the abdomen and throat are black.

The red fox, of course, is named after the colour of its coat. Fox fur is valued worldwide by the fur industry and its customers. Over the years, the industry has bred special colours while also refining the quality of the pelts. However, the skins of wild foxes also achieve good prices, even though they vary in colour.

Lightweight skeleton

The coat and its colouring make the fox appear larger than it actually is, as it only weighs 6-12 kg and measures 35-40 cm over the shoulders. The body itself is about 50-90 cm long, the tail is approx. 30-50 cm, which gives it a total length of 90-140 cm. Killing a fox weighing more than 10 kg in Denmark is quite an achievement. In Scotland, however, the record is 17.2 kg, and the fox measured 140 cm.

When a fox is standing in the snow for example, it looks deceptively large. Yet it weighs only half as much as a springer spaniel. Its low weight is due to the fact that the fox’s bones are about 30 per cent lighter than those of a dog. Its thick coat also gives it more bulk.

Red fox in snow

An agile killer

The fox’s eyesight and hearing are extremely well developed. In fact, the fox can hear a mouse 100 m away, and when in winter it is hunting for mice beneath the snow, it is its sense of hearing that secures the kill. The fox moves its head from side to side to pinpoint exactly where the mouse is, and then jumps up high in the air before diving into the snow to catch its prey.

Red fox kit

The mating season is in January/February, when the vixen emits strong scents which attract male foxes, called dogs, from near and far. During this period, it is possible to hear foxes howling and barking, which is the males competing between themselves to court a female.

The vixen is pregnant for about 50 days, and the kits are born in an ‘earth’ in a slope or hill, or in one of the growing number of artificial earths which hunters establish to ensure that their burrowing dogs are not buried when hunting for foxes.

This is a real and not unknown risk in natural earths. There are even a few cases where an excavator has been brought in to save a dachshund.

A fox litter usually has 4-8 kits. Like dogs, they are blind at birth. The male fox participates during the breeding season by bringing food to the vixen and the kits. At eight weeks, the kits start exploring the area around the earth, leaving it for good in the autumn.

Fox hunting

Foxes can show up anytime and anywhere when it is being hunted. A really exciting form of hunting is hunting with dachshunds around an artificial earth. It requires that the guns are vigilant and quick on the trigger, because when the fox emerges, it’s usually moving incredibly fast.

It also demands considerable discipline on the part of the guns, because the hound can be right on the heels of the fox.

At the same time, you also have to be absolutely sure where the other hunters are located before you shoot.

It’s therefore a good idea to establish from which directions you can safely shoot before the dog is released into the earth to flush out the fox.

This sort of hunting obviously requires a dog which is good at flushing prey out of burrows. Various breeds are suitable, for example Jack Russell terriers, border terriers and dachshunds.

Read more:


Dog and dead fox

Shush!

To hit the fox, you have to remember to be completely quiet, either if you’re standing at a post or trying to entice the fox with calls.

Decoy hunting for foxes is also extremely exciting. Here, you sit concealed and use a caller which makes a sound like a wounded animal that’s whimpering. If the fox is nearby, and if you are lucky and skilled, it may suddenly appear, and then the challenge is to bring your rifle to bear and get the fox in your sights without being noticed.

On the other hand, it is not quite as difficult to lure fox kits in the summer. The fox kits are curious and not nearly as vigilant as adult foxes, but you still have to remember to be quiet.

Gear


It’s a good idea to wear camouflaged clothing if you’re going to successfully outwit the fox.

A so-called ghillie suit, which enables you to blend in with the trees and bushes, is superb, but your apparel does not need to be that sophisticated.

The most important thing is to cover the pale parts of your body such as your face and hands, and that you merge with your surroundings.

Deerhunter Ghillie set


The inveterate fox hunter often uses a fast, small calibre flat-shooting rifle with varminter bullets, which almost explode on impact to ensure that the fox dies on the spot.

For example, if you use a 308 WIN cartridge with a heavy bullet, it will cause only little damage to the skin, and the fox will be killed instantaneously.

The fox - Disease carrier


Fox can be dangerous disease carriers. Therefore, you have to pay close attention if your dog has been in contact with a fox with rabies.

The fox’s tapeworm is an even more serious parasite, as it can cause fatalities in humans.

The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration recommends that hunting dogs which have been close to foxes and their droppings should be washed after the hunt, and that they are treated for worms every four weeks. This recommendation applies throughout Denmark where there are foxes.

Impressive trophies

The fox makes an impressive trophy. If you shoot a fox in the winter before the mating season, its coat is one of the thickest and softest pelts we have in Denmark. And it’s not that difficult to skin a fox and prepare its pelt for hanging on the wall.

The skull is also a spectacular and beautiful trophy, especially with the large canine teeth. You can measure a fox’s skull at home to see whether it deserves a medal.

Using a slide calliper, measure the maximum length and width of the skull, and then add the two dimensions together.

  • 24,00 cm - 24,49 cm = bronze
  • 24,50 cm - 24,99 cm = silver
  • 25,00 cm or more = gold

NB: To receive a medal, the skull must be measured by an approved trophy measurer.

Fox cranium

Facts


Size of kill in Denmark:
Approx. 31,000 (2016/2017)

Hunting season in Denmark:
September 1st – January 31st

Regulation (unauthorised) in Denmark:
In proper enclosures with outdoor pigs and poultry, including enclosures with pheasants, partridges and ducks, foxes may be regulated in the period from June 1st to February 29th. At a distance of up to 25 m from these enclosures, foxes may be regulated in the period June 1st to February 29th, including through the use of traps.

In buildings and at a distance of up to 25 m from buildings, in fenced gardens and in fur farms, foxes may be regulated from June 1st to February 29th, including through the use of traps. In areas where foxes cause damage to other fauna, they may be regulated from June 1st to February 29th.

On properties for which nature improvements have been developed and implemented in accordance with biotope plans, cf. Section 12 (2) no. 3 of the Ministerial order on the release of game, hunting methods and hunting tools (Bekendtgørelse nr. 870 om udsætning af vildt, jagtmåder og jagtredskaber), foxes may be regulated from June 1st to February 29th by using traps.

In the period from June 1st to August 31st, fox kits may be regulated outside fox earths. However, the kits must not be flushed out of the fox earth by using hounds or by other means.

Foxes may be regulated by using a rifle from a hunting tower or high seat that meet the conditions in Section 1 of the Ministerial order on the release of game, and hunting methods and hunting gear. Regulating foxes pursuant to Sections 1-5 may occur in the period one and a half hours before sunrise to one and a half hours after sunset, also from the above-mentioned towers and high seats.

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