“Why eat chipmunk when you can have chicken?” This is the scenario that has been playing out somewhat regularly around the Krutz household this summer, ‘round about late afternoon-early evening. It’s a time they call… “The Foxing Hour”.
On a late afternoon in June, I watched our 3-year old having a grand old time in the inflatable pool. Being 3, there was much hooting, hollering, and splashing. Suddenly, a 4-legged creature walked across the road a short distance away with something black hanging from its mouth. I ran down the driveway toward it to get a better view. It was a gray fox with one of the neighbor’s black chickens. It stared at me blankly for a while before continuing on its way.
The chickens always stay pretty close to the neighbor’s house, and with the loud racket we were making, I was surprised to see this sight at such an early hour. An internet search showed that foxes primarily hunt at night, but a long-time raiser of chickens in the Catskills told me that they love the late afternoon-early evening hunt. Our experience lends further support to that idea.
A day or two later, at about 7:30 pm, I saw the fox cross the road from our property heading toward the neighbor’s chickens. In an effort to dissuade it, I ran down toward the fox, yelling as I went. The 3-yeal old was right behind me following suit. The fox briefly hid in the tall grass before continuing on its way. I certainly cannot blame it for trying to get such an easy meal, but I’d prefer it if the fox took advantage of this year’s obscene abundance of chipmunks, rather than the area’s domestic creatures. This is especially true since we recently started raising ducks.
Since our first interaction, we frequently see the individual take the same route (which goes very close to our duck run) at about the same time. We’ve come to refer to this as the “Foxing Hour,” disregarding the fact that it spans several hours. “Foxing Hours” doesn’t sound as good. During a recent Foxing Hour, I was hurling a discarded bone from dinner across the road in an effort to get the smell of it away from the ducks. When the bone was in midair, I realized that the fox was walking right there. I expected the bone to hit it, but it fell about 5 feet in front, merely startling the fox.
Each time I check on the ducks I count them. I fully expect their numbers to be minus one at some point, although it is possible the ducks are big enough to discourage the fox. Based on all of the nocturnal fox calls we hear during the night, and the few rabbits we see, their population must be high, so time will tell.
My trail camera caught a bit of the Foxing Hour action in early July.