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The Fantastic Mr. Fox

By Mark Davis

Many years ago, when my wife of now 30 years and I were first married, we had a regular unwelcome visitor nearly every night. This visitor was a gray fox and it would make its way through the front yard of our rural home at around 2:30 to 3:30am, doing whatever it is foxes do at that time of night. Not a problem in and of itself, but this fox would sing the song of his people right outside our bedroom window which, being springtime, was open with only a screen separating us from the night life . . .

Now if you have never heard a gray fox sing the song of his people, it can best be described as a high pitched shrieking snarl. Really not the kind of thing that’s looked forward to, especially at such an ungodly hour. The first time I heard it, the hair on the back of my neck stood straight up. (That’s back when I actually had hair.)

After about a week of repeat performances, I decided I would put an end to these shenanigans. And so, I made a plan which, in hindsight, should have been thought out much more thoroughly. Before I went to bed one night, I removed the screen from the window. There might be a mosquito or two let in, but this would surely be a small price to pay to be rid of this interloper.

A five D cell Maglite was place strategically next to the window, and on the wall to the right of the window was a four-gun rack. At the very bottom of this rack was a shelf with various boxes of ammunition, around twenty in all. The bottom slot held a Winchester Model 70 Lightweight Carbine in .270. Above it was a Marlin 336 .30-30. The next one up was a Mossberg 500 20 gauge. The top space was occupied by a scoped Ruger 10/22 and that was the one I planned to use to bring this nightly serenade to a screeching halt. My plan was perfect.

I turned in next to my wife, my side of the bed being next to the window, and we were soon lulled to sleep by the soothing sounds of crickets and katydids. Sure enough, at the usual time, we were jarred awake by Mister Fox’s loud mouth. This was the moment I had waited and planned for! I eased out of bed, picked up the Maglite, and clicked the rubber button. Sure enough, there he was standing not a hundred feet from the house! “Got you now!”, I thought to myself as I reached for the Ruger. That’s when my plan went sideways.

As I lifted the rifle from the rack, its sling hung on the barrel of the Mossberg, and the entire rack, rifles, shotgun, ammo and all, pulled free from the wall and came crashing down on the nightstand beneath it, smashing the clock radio to bits, and sending rifles, shotgun, ammo and pieces of the table into a heap on the floor next to the bed. I swung the beam of the flashlight back to the yard just in time to see the bushy tail of my foe disappearing rapidly off into the woods, leaving me standing dumbfounded in my underwear. I had not only failed, but failed in a most spectacular manner.

The next thing I heard was what I thought was muffled crying from my wife’s side of the bed. I thought, “Oh my God, she’s been traumatized.” But no, what I heard turned out to be her laughing nearly to the point of hysterics. Thank you, darling for your support in my time of crisis. As it turned out, my plan actually worked out in the end. The fox never returned. But then again, it took my dignity a while to return, too.


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  1. last house on a dead end road. nothing but forest for 10 miles east and ten miles south. cool childhood.
    pervert peeping in my sisters window. gave her my movie light, 650 watts.

    dad went out the back door with the Mossberg 500. I went out the front door with the single action .44 mag revolver. brother went out the front door with the 75 pound Bear bow and a cross point.

    sister goes 10, 9, 8… movie light. pervert looks at the Mossberg, looked at the.44, was not impressed. looked at the crosspoint…

    you can hear the sound of a guy crapping his pants above the strangled “Oh, God!”

    • I am not advocating this, but it would be very tempting to put that crossbow to use and eliminate one more perv from this world. Especially if you live in a place with so much land which could hypothetically be used for a shallow grave.

      My thinking, after reading true crime novels, is that most, if not all rapists and serial killers start out as low-grade peeping Toms. That’s not to say that all peeping Toms will escalate their crimes, but you can’t be too safe. Especially when my two daughters are in this world.

      • I remember seeing an interview with an ER doc, the doc was saying that getting hit with any type of broadhead arrow is really bad, because it’s almost impossible to stop the bleeding.

  2. Dad would take shots out the living room window at coyotes with a .243. Mom would still be sleeping in the next room…not for long.

    • My dad has a pathological fear of snakes. One weekend afternoon about 40 years ago he came trooping inside. I heard him rooting around in the closet, followed by the distinctive sound of him racking his Model 12. On his way back outside, I asked him what was up. He said he saw a snake disappear into a hole in the yard. (We lived in the sticks-our nearest neighbors were at least a half mile or more away).

      I looked out a few minutes later to see him sitting in a folding lawn chair, V&T beside him, with the shotgun across his knees. I went back to whatever I was doing until about 15 minutes later “Boom! Boom!” I went outside to see him sitting his chair, working on his drink with a smile on his face. “Got it!”. Near a small hole in the ground there were two channels dug out by the bird shot, and a little farther away pieces of what I suspect had been a garter snake.

      My mother, who wasn’t scared of snakes, was just standing in the kitchen shaking her head and laughing.

      In his defense, copperheads were very common in that part of SW Virginia.

      He’s 87 now. Mom’s been gone for several years. I still laugh to myself whenever I think of that day.

  3. Had a sparrow which built a nest on our porch light. There was bird sh!t all over. I took the nest down, and it was rebuilt a week later. So I hooked up the hose with the pistol grip assault nozzle. I spritzed the nest, and the bird took off. I shot the bird out of the air with the hose, gave it a stomp, and threw it in the trash. Three weeks later there’s another GD bird nest on the porch light. Maybe I should try tripping over my hardware in the middle of the night.

  4. I live in suburban Bellevue, WA, which is pretty heavily wooded. The area is crawling with raccoons. One night I got to experience the sounds of raccoons mating. Fortunately after a few minutes, she got loose and ran away, with him in pursuit. Then a third raccoon came out chasing after the first two. It was quite odd. I tried to get the whole thing on video, but all I managed to capture was darkness and some screeching.

  5. Good writing. Many years ago I lived on a farm that had a pair of foxes. I saw them several times in the moonlight. Never a problem. The raccoon were a problem. They got into everything. Years later I hit an albino raccoon in the middle of the night as it stood in the middle of a highway exit ramp. THAT thing was creepy.

  6. I had a similar problem, except it was in The Bronx and not the sticks, there was no fox but there was a street-corner doo-wop group, the song of their people was Stagger Lee and I devoutly wished that I had his forty-four. But other than those minor differences, it’s pretty much the same story.

  7. My friend lives in the sticks and has a Jack-Russel Terrier that serves as back-yard pest control. One day she cornered a woodchuck that decided to fight back. She came running back into the house with a limp and a bloodied face. My friend’s mom was almost in tears patching her up and wanted to call the animal control guy. I had brought my Stevens 416 (22 LR) with me for some target shooting and said no way I’ll fix this problem for free in half the time.

    I piled some rotting veggies in the back yard and set up shop in my friend’s bedroom. I fired from inside through a wide-open window out of concern for the neighbors, who we called beforehand anyway, but I still wanted to see how much quieter the shot would be if the house soaked up most of the report. I also didn’t want to scare my target away by being visible right on the porch.

    An hour later this positively rabid woodchuck comes out and nervously munches down on his back-yard feast. With signs of emaciation and mange the poor thing looked like hell, so I took aim and put it out of its misery with a clean head shot. The neighbors were still expecting a resounding boom when I called again. They were inside and hadn’t heard a thing.

    The best part was when I walked out with a shovel to go bury it. The dog, watching this event from the couch and forgetting her wounds, knew the foe was finished. In some kind of adrenaline-fueled homage to Homer’s Iliad, she seamlessly raced to the dead ‘chuck, clamped down on a hind leg, and dragged its body into the woods never to be seen again. I hadn’t even stepped off the porch when I dropped the shovel and p!ssed my pants laughing.

  8. “the hair on the back of my neck stood straight up. (That’s back when I actually had hair.)”

    Nowadays would you get goosebumps on your scalp?


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