Hide and Hunt Fox Whistling by Mark Burrows
I do most of my fox whistling in areas, which compared to most of Australia, are heavily settled. Very compact farms and well cleared land with scattered patches of bush and isolated wind rows. These areas are often overgrown, right up to the fences that surround them, making it difficult to set up a stand or at least a decent stand. Generally you would try and set up 30 or 40 metres (32 or 43 yards) from the patch you are whistling, but around here this would leave you with 100mm (4 inches) of grass for cover. A single tussock or a couple of thistles is the best you can do.
Sometimes a corner strainer post will give you the opportunity to stand upon it, but again this is usually very close to the area you are whistling and the fox can be on you before you have a chance to draw. The size of the patch can be as small as 10 to 20 square metres (12 to 24 square yards) and when things happen, they happen very quickly. If the fox is going to catch you out, it's usually from the movement made in drawing your bow. At this point, the fox locks onto your form, does a back flip and is gone before you are sure they were even there.
At times I have tried with these real small patches to actually draw the bow before I start whistling, with limited success I might add, as the fox usually comes zipping out just at the point of you letting down from fatigue. Late last year I whistled up three foxes one afternoon and didn't get an arrow away at any of them. Due to the lack of any really good cover and the tightness of the whistling position, I was sprung each time. I had two options - give up whistling in these low percentage areas or come up with a solution. Surely there was something I could do to increase the odds.
I was thinking of portable ground blinds and actually made one, but I could see with the bulk of it, it would spend more time in the back of the truck than out in the paddock. However I did remember seeing an advertisement in a bowhunting magazine for a camo umbrella which screwed into the stabiliser hole on the riser of the bow. This looked to me as if it might be worth a go. It would be relatively light, portable and should do the main job of hiding that drawing movement of the bow. So I acquired a light tan coloured brolly and covered it with a few splashes of flat black paint. I then cut a small window for the arrow to pass through and another for me to look through. Being of nylon construction, I heated up a small piece of wire and put several dozen horse shoe shaped slashes all over the rest of the brolly. This gave a 3D-type look, allowing the wind to pass through without the Mary Poppins impersonation! The whole setup has worked really well. The first afternoon I used my new brolly, I whistled up four foxes on the ground from four successful stands. I have never had four out of four before! It works really well, even with the smallest amount of cover you can back into, pop the umbrella and be confident of the opportunity for a shot. Wearing my ASAT 3D suit and the brolly out front, the human outline vanishes.
Recently I spent an afternoon with David Luxford, a good friend and bowhunter, whistling one of his secret spots. Our first stand was actually inside the bush line so the brolly wasn't really necessary. I could have set up in the usual way but was keen to use the brolly. David did the whistling slightly behind and about ten metres (10 yards) to the right of me and I did my tree impersonation. It was nearly 10 minutes before I spotted a bit of colour. A good dog fox was just poking along, interested in the whistle to the point of having a look, but not in any hurry.
I let him wander in to about ten metres (10 yards), drew my Hoyt AlphaMax 32 without attracting any attention at all and released a Slick Trick tipped Easton Axis arrow. One good dog in the bag. We moved on to a couple more stands without success, then split up. David went back to the vehicle and I followed a bit of gully towards our rendezvous point.
There was a couple of small patches of tea tree, about 20 metres long and 10 metres wide (21 yards by 10 yards) along the gully, which looked as though it might hold a fox. Neither offered any great stand sights, but the lower one had a lone little bush growing about twenty five metres (27 yards) out in the paddock. Typical sheep country, the grass all around was about 50mm (2 inches) high - a good test for the brolly, I thought. Kneeling down, I used my OPTi-Logic Laser InSight Rangefinder to pre-determine a couple of markers for distance, popped the brolly and backed myself into the small bush.
Making sure everything was set, I launched into the whistle. I had probably only been whistling for 3 seconds when this orange blur erupted from the edge of the tea tree. At this, I drew my bow and changed to a tune on the whistle, which I hoped would stop him for the shot. No effect at ten metres (10 yards), so I audibly said "stop" quite loudly. Still no effect. At six metres (6.5 yards) I again shouted "stop". At one metre (1 yard) I shot him. He was just going to run right through me and my umbrella. I was hooked on the brolly.
They are not for every occasion, but you can keep it folded down and it does act as a reasonable stabiliser. As a mobile ground blind, they are handy and I can see more uses than just fox whistling. They have their disadvantages. When in the open state, your manoeuvrability is restricted and if the fox comes from side-on, the brolly creates a much larger outline and from experience, harder to try and discreetly turn 90 degrees. Very windy days can also be a nuisance. But there is definitely room in the hunting kit for a brolly or two.
Why I use what I do
I am currently hunting with the Hoyt AlphaMax 32. It is a light bow to start with, so when I add all the bits, it does not become too heavy to carry afield all day. It is a very sweet bow to shoot. No shock, quiet, forgiving and very accurate. At the business end is the Easton HIT Technology Axis shaft. I have been shooting these shafts since their introduction and I find them exceedingly tough. I think their resilience actually aids in penetration. I have matched these with Bohning Blazer vanes. Again, I have used these since their introduction. They stabilise my broadheaded arrows very effectively, giving less overall drag which results also in less cross-wind drift. Attached to the front of this outfit is the excellent Slick Trick broadhead. I use the 125 grain Slick Trick Magnum and the 125 grain Slick Trick RazorTrick depending on what I am hunting.
The above arrow combination is supported by the ever-reliable NAP QuikTune drop away rest. Released with a Carter Quickie release aid and aimed with a Toxonics Fibre Optic Pin sight The bow is balanced with the short but effective Dissipator stabiliser by Orion. My arrows are carried in a Hoyt Bow Quiver. This total combination is something I have become very confident with in any hunting situation.