The Black Fox
Lewis Helps tells of the pursuit of an exceptional vulpine from go to whoa.
Shooting has always been a big part of growing up on the family farm north of Adelaide, for brother’s Russell (26) and Lewis (24). From a young age they would go out with their father Bevan but would often fall asleep in the ute, only when the gun went off would they wake to find they had missed out on the hunt. As the years went on it finally became their turn to shoot and spotlight.
It all started when Russell’s mate Marty mentioned seeing a black fox a couple of years ago but of course at the time they all thought he was dreaming. However it wasn’t too long after this that Bevan mentioned he’d seen the black fox and then sure enough, Russell happened to see it for himself as well. Lewis however was not completely convinced, as he had not seen it for himself, and so it continued to be spoken of as the elusive black fox. Not hearing of any more sightings for about the next 12 months, it was presumed someone had either shot it or he had died.
It was a Saturday night that turned out to be a night to remember. The wind died off as the sun began to set over the plains, so Russell and Lewis set up the trusty old work horse and Remington .222, bought in the eighties which Bevan had handed down to them. As soon as it was dark, they rugged up for what would be a long cold winters night. Russell up the back of the Ute with the spotlight while Lewis was in the cab with his partner and 2 year old daughter who were tagging along for a little ride to start the night. Things got off to a cracking start with Russell quickly spotting the first pair of eyes in the paddock. A quick tap on the roof signals to stop the ute so they could try whistling him in, this worked a treat as Lewis got off the first shot for a direct hit. Lewis’ daughter was excited to have bagged the first fox for the night, hopefully a new generation of hunter in the making. When they had three foxes bagged for the night there was a very sleepy little girl who was ready for bed, so a quick stop home was made.
This time Russell and Lewis headed out on their own hoping to finish the night off strong. They bagged another two foxes in quick succession and then again spotted another set of eyes, Lewis got into position to take the next shot just as Russell noticed a shadow at the edge of the light. He flicked the light over and realized it was the black fox. Hearts racing and brains firing with thoughts of what it would be mean to bag a black fox. The black fox was unperturbed by the presence and noise of the ute, seemingly distracted by the vixen he was chasing. They tried using the whistle to steal his attention, but he was not interested and wouldn’t present a shot worth taking. After what seemed like a lifetime of moving and whistling, the black fox made tracks to the middle of the paddock, unable to follow in the Ute due to the wheat crop, Russell and Lewis watched in anguish as this exceptional fox had evaded them. Only able to drive around the firebreak, they did a couple laps of the paddock hoping to catch up with the black fox again but came up empty handed, it was as if he had vanished. Slightly disheartened thinking that they had missed out on their only chance they moved on with their night, moving to another paddock and bagging another fox, bringing the tally to six foxes and two large tom cats.
Unsatisfied with how it had played out earlier, they made a last ditch attempt to find the black fox again and returned to the paddock they found him in initially. Russell flicked the Lightforce beam across the paddock and sure enough spotted the black fox again, who still had no intentions of hanging around, his tail was high and he was moving like a hound on a trail. Russell followed his movements in the spotlight, waiting for him to present a shot, but he made quick tracks to the other side of the paddock so, having no other option they followed the firebreak around to where the fox seemed to be heading and managed to close the gap again to within 100m. As the Ute rolled to a stop the fox looked up at the spotlight in curiosity turning broadside and presenting the perfect shot. Lewis wasted no time taking aim and sending a 50 grain Z Max projectile through his chest and dropping him on the spot.
In the following months, many phone calls to taxidermists and countless hours spent looking at different mounts online, Lewis came across Samantha from Animal Art Taxidermy. Samantha was contacted about the animal and was impressed with the rarity of a Black Fox. Bevan, Russell and Lewis made the 15 hour round trip to Victoria to drop off the fox and work with Samantha on picking out the form and style of the mount. Several months later, Samantha sent through some photos of the completed product and “we couldn’t be more impressed by the quality and style of what she has done with the Black Fox. We would highly recommend Samantha at Animal Art Taxidermy to anyone looking for an exceptionally professional job.”