No empty cartridges

Jan 26th, 2010 | By | Category: Personal Columns

A friend phoned last night, looking for the telephone numbers he needed in order to complete his application for the renewal of his firearms certificate.

“What do you shoot?”

“Not a lot. There’s about enough shooting for a pheasant each and then the farmer wants us to look for foxes.  They don’t cause really cause much harm now”.

“Do you think not?  It cost me €220 at the vet because one of our dogs had an infection that required an anaesthetic.  The vet asked had we foxes.  I told him there was one on the garden wall the previous week. ‘There’s the source of the infection’, he said”.

Discharging a shotgun in a built up area is probably illegal, but the foxes are everywhere now.  One crossed Church Road this evening, oblivious to walkers and traffic.  Their boldness is increasing.

Coming out of Dublin’s most exclusive medical clinic one evening, passing between shiny Mercedes Benz and Jaguars, I had walked down a smart stone flight of stairs to the lower part of the car park and stopped with surprise. Standing not more than five yards away, heading towards the clinic, was a fox. The fox and I had stood and looked at each other.

“Do you not realize that it’s only nine o’clock in the evening and that this is an exclusive private hospital?”

The fox looked at me as though I was quite mad, put its head down and continued on its way, slipping into the darkness between shrubs and a brand new BMW.

The morning after the Blackrock encounter, I was on the Upper Churchtown Road.  It is very busy, as anyone who uses it will vouch.  It is four lanes wide for much of its length and demands much jockeying for position at the point where it narrows.  It is not a place where one encounters much wildlife, being deep within suburban Dublin.

Driving along it, heading for a meeting in Rathmines, I was listening to Lyric FM, a Dvorak piece.  Coming towards me on the pavement on the left-hand side, at 1020 in the morning, was a fox.  It cantered along before dodging to the right at the end of a wall along the road.

I had rubbed my eyes and pinched myself – thinking I must have imagined it.  So convinced was I that I must be imagining things, that I later searched the Lyric FM website to see if they actually were playing Dvorak at 1020.

Checking biblical references, foxes appear seven times; four times they are destructive, once they are devious; and twice Jesus speaks of them as having somewhere to go; none of which probably gives any mandate to fire a 12 bore at them, not that I have one, and if I had I would probably miss.  The fox would just look at me with contempt and go on its way, the way that foxes do.

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  1. I suspect we had one in the garden here recently as Eliot came in smelling as he used to in Magherally! Fox or badger…. not a pleasant smell in the house (or outside the house either).

  2. Gunfire on the Lisburn Road would definitely be inadvisable. Perhaps you could start the first city pack of beagles!

  3. During the recent snowy weather I lay awake in the early hours listening to two foxes crying to each other. The light reflecting from the snow and the sound of the foxes barking, moving closer and then further away before returning, was haunting. but strangely calming.

  4. Of course they’re feral here and great urbanites. I didn’t know a dog could get close enough to ‘catch’ anything. Lily hates them and has quite a different bark when they’re round but I couldn’t bring myself to pot shot at them.

  5. Foxes are strange creatures, and can make unearthly noises. I was told that the replacement of bin bags with wheelie bins would mean their food supply would be reduced and they would disappear – there has been no sign of any reduction in their numbers.

    The infection is transferred through their excrement. The dogs need to be taught to be more discerning!

    My shooting skills would be described by a sentence that included “barn door” and “banjo”.

  6. Foxes may be beautiful to look at but they are a nuisance particularly in urban areas. I wonder how much the anti hunting lobby is responsible for the increase in numbers…. that and the waste of food thrown or left carelessly lying about in cities these days?

  7. The lobby doesn’t really exist here – Dublin is surrounded by hunts in Counties Wicklow, Kildare and Meath – and council regulations concerning waste disposal have become so strict that there would not appear to be that much chance of scavenging. I’m beginning to wonder if Reynard has managed some evolutionary leap to being able to manage traffic and find food in unpromising places.

  8. There’s more foxes living in the towns and cities than in the countryside now……due to the fact that its easier for them to find food…….If I were a fox I think I’d prefer cooked, ready plucked KFC chicken rather than the ones I’d have to catch!!!!!!!! Unfortunately now because of Man and his constant need for ready food the Fox has become vermin and needs controlling…..I say lift the ban…the hunt would have some fun chasing foxy through Exeter city centre !!!!!!

  9. Can you imagine the cost of kennels for foxhounds in the City of London?

  10. haha yes you could buy a 3 bed detatched in Exeter for the same price!!!!!

  11. We have healthy looking red-coated foxes round our way, not the scabby emaciated city animals. I sometimes encounter them at night on the lanes into our village. They pad across the roadway, pausing for a moment to turn and observe me, and then pad on. No sound. I always feel like I should gained a morsel of wisdom from the meeting. It tends to prove elusive however.

  12. Perhaps the drab greyness of the city foxes is part of an evolutionary leap – the bright red ones would quickly be spotted here, especially by local kids I see out with lurchers.

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