Monday, November 4, 2019

The Gray Fox

The first leader I remember of the gray fox was One Ear. He was beat up bad when we met with an ear missing and the other one with a bite in it. He could barely walk, couldn't smell, and couldn't chew without food falling out of his mouth. After a couple winter months of hamburger, hot dogs, chicken, and fish he was magically healed and ran the parking lot show after dark when the fox gather for their hot dogs.

The second leader was the fox "Who's Eyes Don't Reflect." It was eerie. I'd walk out at night with the headlamp on, shine it into the parking on dim and have as many as 11 sets of white eyes staring back at me. Even though they might all be sitting patiently within 40 or 50 feet of each other the first hot dog always went to he who's eyes don't reflect. Hit him directly with the headlamp and nothing comes back at you. In time he would pick up the first hot dog, nod as in thanks, then wait, and I'd throw him a second. Nobody tried to get either of them from him. It wasn't until he would slowly trot off that all the other grays felt comfortable coming to get the next hot dog. He was the most dominant I've seen and led the rebellion when I interfered by accident with a rabbit kill at the bottom of the driveway but he is also the one who returned after three days of all foxes being absent and sat in the parking lot one night staring at me until I finally understood what I had done wrong. He told me through his eyes, that don't reflect. I nodded, he nodded, picked up the two hot dogs I had thrown him and the following night all the foxes returned.

For awhile there was a fox that sat on a rock part way up the hill right at sundown each evening who was in charge for awhile but leader's don't seem to have long life spans. Now the Day Fox who comes mid afternoon and again in the evening runs the show. I'm glad. The veteran fox know there will always be a hot dog for them and have in fact learned to sit tight after the first one to get a second one. This year there have been a lot of newbies. Throw a hot dog and three or four foxes run for it and the winner takes off with a couple of others chasing it. It's after the rookies are gone that the veterans take over. They know and Day Fox knows better than them all. He gets in front of the other foxes and sets the example. I throw him a hot dog, then a second. He doesn't even leave. He just sits sometimes as close as 15 to 20 feet from me even with Jax on the porch and slowly eats his hot dogs. When he's done a few more will come forward and do the same thing.

On Friday night with three guests sitting on the porch with me Day Fox came and just 20 or so feet from us took two hot dogs, then one more. Suddenly he looked up to my right on the river side of the lodge and stared at something for ten or so seconds without flinching. I could feel it. He saw something in the eyes of whatever he was looking at that he was in a place he didn’t want to be and he walked off. When he left all the other foxes did to except one rookie who made two quick runs for hot dogs and then realizing he was alone also took off. No foxes came back the rest of the night or did any of the other little people. When Michelle called at 6am Saturday morning and I walked out into the dark to start up the Jeep and go find her there were six gray fox sitting in the parking lot who had missed their meal last night and missed being a meal so there went a quick 16 hot dogs.

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