From the pages of
The Sublette County Journal
Volume 4, Number 19 - 1/6/99
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

A Fox Raising Venture

A few years after retiring from the shop, we decided to raise some kind of fur animals. We built a 28 x 60' building and brought in some mink breeding stock from a fur farm in Idaho after getting the necessary permits from the Game and Fish Department. They were pretty easy to raise, and before long we had a whole bunch. They were a lot of work to take care of, and after awhile we were getting a lot more manure than money, and decided to try something else. We changed the pens, water system and everything and started raising some red fox. After getting a capture permit from the Game and Fish, we caught some breeding stock out of the wild, and this turned out to be quite an exciting endeavor. They had to be vaccinated, ears tattooed and deflea-ed. Glenn Millard, our vet at the time, agreed to vaccinate them if I could hold them so they couldn't bite him.

You can hold a red fox by the very tip of the tail, and when lifted off the ground they can almost bite you, but not quite. We had an enclosed room, about 10 x 12' area, with a good closed door. I would grab a fox out of his pen by the end of the tail and go into the small room and hold him as far away from my body as I could and Glen would stand as far away as he could and still reach the fox's hip with his vaccine gun.

Glenn is a short built person like I am, but I swear he could reach about 4 feet with only a 2 foot arm. This worked pretty good until about the third or fourth fox, until I lost my grip on one fox's tail and he slipped out of my hand and things really happened. The fox ran around the inside of the room, about halfway up the wall and fast as a bullet, scattering everything that was hanging on the wall, and looked just like motorcycle riders do when they run around the wall inside a pit. We finally dip-netted him, and after he got the net halfway destroyed, I was able to grab him by the end of the tail again, and we started over.

These were grown fox we were working with, and were really glad when we got them done. The following year we had pups to work with and they were a lot easier.

We had put up a big flood light to cover the breeding pens at night, so we could tell when a female got bred, then mark it on a calendar, count ahead 52 days, to make sure we had the male out of the pen before the pups were born, as he will eat them. We were having poor luck with getting them bred and one of our lady friends was visiting us during this time and we were doing a show-and-tell with her, and mentioned we were having poor luck with our breeding program. She was real quick to catch the problem and said "I don't think I would do anything either if I had a flood light pointed at me!" We hadn't thought of that and stopped using the light and had better luck.

Pen-raised red fox.
The coming spring we had a litter of pups and when it came to weaning and vaccinating time, they had to be caught out of the nest box. The box was 2 x 4' and had a lid that opened at the back and hinges on the front, toward the pen. Lucy was going to open the lid a crack for me, so I could reach in and grab a pup by the tail, and after pulling him out of the box would close the lid, and my last instructions were "if anything goes wrong, close the lid in a hurry!" We had the momma fox shut out of the box and didn't look for any trouble. Lucy opened the lid about 6 inches and I put my hand and arm in to grab a pup by the tail. This was a litter of 5 and I should have paid a little more attention to the other 4 as I reached my hand past one to get to another one that had his tail pointed my way. As I reached for the tail, one that had his head the closest grabbed my wrist in an instant and clamped down and hung on. I let out a loud yell and Lucy instantly slammed the lid down on my arm. I don't know how long he held on but it seemed like forever. When he finally turned loose, I was very glad to pull my arm out along with my bleeding wrist. After getting the lid shut again and latched we headed for the house and a little first aid. His four long front teeth had went clean through my wrist and it hurt pretty good. It was about a week before my arm got well enough to try again, and I learned real quick to watch every set of teeth in a nest box.

To be continued ...

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Copyright © 1999 The Sublette County Journal
All rights reserved. Reproduction by any means must have permission of the Publisher.
The Sublette County Journal, PO Box 3010, Pinedale, WY 82941   Phone 307-367-3713
Publisher/Editor: Rob Shaul