I started out yesterday with a plan to check out a little used road on private timber company land. There are a couple of good spots up the road to set up a calling stand, a creek where I might possibly wet a line, and an old trailhead several miles farther up the mountain. The road and surrounding property are all owned by the timber company, and the road is not maintained. If there are no plans for a logging operation, the company isn’t going to waste money keeping the road up. The gate across the road had been closed all last winter, but with summer here and deer season not far off, I thought it might be open now as it usually is at this time of the year. No such luck! The gate was closed and locked, and I had to back down the road to a wide spot to turn around. I had another place in mind where I wanted to try calling.
I had Bear out with me the last time, so this was Chigger’s day. When I started up the dirt road I soon ran into bear sign. There were tracks of several different bears along the side of the dusty road, and bear scat was prevalent where they had been eating manzanita berries. There was more bear sign here than I had seen anywhere so far this year, and I stopped to shoot the video below.
I parked the truck where an old skid trail leads up a ridge. I took my camera pack with me, turned Chigger lose, and began hiking up the trail. There was some bear scat here too, but I also found old fox scat. Not surprising, as the spot I was headed to is one of my favorite places to call from. I have called fox there many times, plus a couple of coyotes and a cougar. It would really be unusual not to find fox and possibly bobcat scat along this trail.
The trail up the ridge leads to an old road that has been washed out for years and is inaccessible to traffic. A hundred yards along this trail and I walked down another old skid trail to the place I wanted to call from. I sat down on an old stump, tied Chigger to a handy tree next to me, and set the camera up on a tripod. I chose to use an open reed mouth blown call made from a deer antler; a gift from a custom call maker several years ago.
I was only a few minutes into the call when I heard a slight sound to my left. The fox had come in behind me, right down the skid trail I had walked in on. It was within 6 feet of me before it saw me, and I saw it. The fox stopped for a few seconds, gave me a hard look, then jumped sideways and beat feet down the hill and into the brush. Naturally this all happened to fast to even turn the camera on, let alone catch any of it on video.
Chigger had seen the fox, so I unsnapped him and let him go. To my surprise the fox was still right there in the brush! It hadn’t run off, and Chigger took it for a little run. He wasn’t gone long and soon came back up the hill to me. Then the fox began to bark at us! This was ideal, and Chigger went back down the hill again. He stayed a little longer that time, but it was really hot by now, 1:00 o’clock in the afternoon, and Chigger was soon back with his tongue hanging out. It was enough. Not bad or a dog that hasn’t quite turned 13 months old yet, and this was the first fox he had ever seen.