Though fox hunting by the gentry was common in Scotland for centuries, this Estate never allowed them to be hunted here, so the Estate foxes have thrived. Even when we had a Gameskeeper here, before we abolished that position and created the Estate Head Gardener position that I now hold, they were safe from being hunted. Deer and rabbits have to be hunted or the bloody buggers multiply beyond belief.
There are, roughly speaking, two types of foxes here — those who like humans and those who really could do without us. Given the size of the Estate, both types can easily find their preference here. There’s a long history of the human inhabitants here noting in The Sleeping Hedgehhog who were the foxes they were especially interested in.
There was Tess, who according to the Estate Ghillie, had a burrow down by one of the salmon breeding pools; he fed rabbits to her and her kits during a particularly bad winter; there was the fox that bedded down with the Irish wolfhounds who guarded the sheep; there was one fox that, based on his markings, was estimated to be over thirty years old, an impossible age for a fox, even in captivity; and one Estate Gardener swore he had not been drunk when he had a conversation with a ghost fox out in the Wood. I am not one to dispute that having seen weirder things on this Estate.
The foxes that are truly wild are harder to get a handle on as they avoid us at all costs. Some have only been glimpsed, being known as individuals solely because of their unique characteristics, such as the female known as Diamond as she had a perfect white diamond bit of fur on hher forehead, or the one called Broad Arrow as he had such a marking on his back.
So if you visit our Estate, do take the time to look for our foxes. It’ll be worth your while to do so.