Fox Hunting

Fox Hunting

Winters of 1940's and 50's

Before we begin, a few words to calm the Greenies and the Animal Welfare Brigade - foxes are not Australian native animals - they are classed as vermin and, in fact, the Government has a hefty price on fox scalps!

Foxes were imported from England soon after the arrival of the First Fleet so the well-to-do folk could pursue their pleasures of riding to hounds ie fox hunting.

Foxes are a great concern to sheep farmers as they can do so much damage to stock and cause devasting losses.

Foxes are wilful killers and know no limits. An example of this was when my husband had to go into hospital suddenly for a couple of days and he left his flock of 200 Merino ewes for me and his friend Claude to look after. My husband had put the sheep in a smaller paddock so it would be easier for us to check on them because the ewes were lambing.

When Claude and I went to check up on the sheep on the second day we were met with a scene of carnage beyond belief. There were ewes running around frantically looking for their lambs. They were dead and dying lambs everywhere - all had been attacked by foxes. Some had their tongues bitten out, while others had been attacked while collapsed on the ground from exhaustion and had their chests ripped open and kidneys and heart torn out. A horror not easily forgotten.

Foxes chase lambs around until their tongues hang out, then they can rush in and bite off their tongues. This leaves the poor little creature to a long, lingering end.

Many sheep farmers and others went fox hunting in the winter time (kinder to the horses) and fox pelts were superior and worth more.

The idea was to go in gigs or on horseback and drive through areas of cover (scrub, onion weed, saffron thistle, stubble or lignum) into the wind, and the foxes will run out the other end where hunters with shotguns are waiting, giving instant death, not prolonged suffering.

All our neighbours were experiencing similar stock losses from foxes so were only too happy to join us in fox hunting to reduce the numbers of the pests.

Hugh Jones joined us at Natya and he travelled in a gig so he got to take some of the deceased foxes home to skin them. This was a lengthy job and he later nailed the skins on the walls of his shearing shed to dry and then took them to sell to the Wool and Skin Store in Swan Hill.

At Ultima we used utes so removing the dead foxes was simpler, and later, all hands helped skin them.

Final Analysis

  • No horses hurt.
  • The feral mare (Eucawheela) fell into the river and was later retrieved.
  • One ten-year-old girl rider marooned on a rabbit warren when her very nervous horse (Bluey) refused to move!
  • One male rider fell off and broke his collarbone.
  • One male rider fell off and was knocked unconscious. He lived to tell of his misadventure at his 80th birthday - what he could remember!
  • One young female shooter suffered minor facial injuries when her shotgun kicked back.
  • One female came in a gig to see what went on: She came, she saw, and never came again...She thought we were all deranged!
  • Many foxes were destroyed.
  • Many, many lambs lived to die of old age.
  • The fox skin rugs and fox skin evening capes are still with us - but are showing their age, of course.