Fox hunting, however ancient the practice, evolved on the British Isles into a ritualized chase during which bluebloods on horseback sicced hounds on red-wrapped wild dogs. Foxes plucking the gentry’s chickens from the manor apparently could not stand.
Besides, the group culling of foxes proved jolly good sport. Yoicks!
George Washington, reputedly America’s wealthiest president until this century, kept foxhounds. A segment of the landed aristocracy in Virginia and Maryland was loath to break with its English forebears when it came to an exhilarating exercise in holding onto poultry.
The pastime as it is practiced these days in both Great Britain and the former colonies legally requires no blood-spilling, although England allows loopholes. Even with multiple exemptions, not all participants are pleased about restraints.
Successful hunts until recently didn’t end well for the panting fox, which met its demise either ripped to scattered hair and bones when caught by the pursuing hounds or, having found sanctuary in a foxhole, maimed by assassin terriers bred to send a dug -in fox not so gently into that goodnight.
The local chickens remained oblivious to their role in the crusade over which animal would prevail in the age-old struggle to fill an empty stomach.
In truth, fox hunting could be a bloody mess, to reappropriate an English expression, so much so that the hunters took to wearing red jackets to soften the look of otherwise untidy bloodstains.
Packs of howling hounds leading red-jacketed riders on horses is not described in the Ohio Hunting and Trapping Regulations 2022-23 handbook as a legal method of taking foxes when the statewide hunting season commences Nov. 10.
Assume it, then, to be not legal.
Approved hunting equipment for fox, raccoon, opossum, skunk, weasel and a range of other species does include bows, crossbows, rifles, airguns and shotguns 10 gauge or smaller.
Thursday Nov. 10 also begins the statewide trapping season for not only fox, raccoon, opossum, skunk and weasel, but for mink and muskrat, as well.
The object being to obtain prime − that is, salable or otherwise usable − pelts, successful trapping requires care be taken during the quarry’s dispatching followed by a lot more work. Ohio trapper numbers are not especially large. Ohio Division of Wildlife records show some 13,300 fur taker permits were sold in 2019.
Unlike the familiar and useful varmint removers of city and suburbs, money doesn’t necessarily play a primary part in motivating the seasonal trapper.
The Fur Institute of Canada lists trapping benefits that include: protecting natural habitat, farmland, roads and other property from wildlife damage; disease control; biodiversity maintenance and improvement; public safety; conservation research; environmental and wildlife monitoring; food and furs.
Furs, naturally, bring a price. The 72 red fox pelts fetched an average of $10.48 during an auction in March held at Kidron by the Ohio State Trappers Association. A dozen gray fox pelts brought an average of $16.25.
Thirteen bobcat pelts averaged $44.46. Bobcats apparently are becoming more abundant in the state, although targeting them remains illegal for trappers.
The summer wild turkey brood survey showed more youngsters per hen in northern Ohio districts than in central and southern Ohio, reported wildlife division biologist Mark Wiley.
“The statewide average was 3.0 poults per hen in 2022,” Wiley wrote in an email. “The 10-year average remains 2.7 poults per hen.”
The poult-per-hen count was highest in northwest Ohio at 3.8 and lowest in central and southwest Ohio at 2.4. The restricted fall turkey season, which is closed in Union, Madison and Pickaway counties, runs through Nov. 13.