Jim Forster Reminisces
During the World War 2 period the fox population throughout the wheat belt multiplied to almost plague proportions, mainly because farmers could not do much about them because of the lack of guns, ammunition, man power and poisons. These were well restricted in case of Japanese invasion, besides the rationing of fuel.
The first year I was back on the farm the foxes killed almost all of the lambs born to the flock of 30 ewes so I decided it was time to declare war again, this time against the fox.
We first started by chasing them at night with a three ton Dodge truck and twelve volt spotlight. This was successful to a point, but too many foxes were escaping because the truck was too slow on picking up speed, rough to shoot from and not manoeuvrable enough. If a fox escaped we were only teaching him to be more careful next tiine.
So I decided to build a special vehicle for the purpose. We acquired an old 1934 Ford V8 car with a chassis but rusted body and blown engine. This was stripped of the body excepting the cowl and windscreen. A bigger Ford V8 engine from an army armoured car was fitted with its bigger radiator. No bonnet or guards were required. A special body was designed and fitted to accommodate two shooters , one left and right and a man in the middle with the spotlight - this was a 24 volt ex aircraft landing light powered by two 12 volt (300 c.p. lamps) batteries and an auxiliary power unit each ex army surplus of course. The four wheels were fitted with the heavy treaded tyres from hay making machinery not in use at the time. The brakes were modified and made to work well. A rare looking vehicle but proved to be very good for the purpose. My youngest brother elected to be driver, he began by taking it out in a paddock and practiced with it and in no time he learned to turn sharply by throwing it on full lock and tramping the motor, the back would spin around and put us still with the fox. When being chased foxes keep turning sharply hence the reason for a pursuing vehicle doing the same.
We teamed up with a young ex army sergeant who was farming next to us and in a matter of weeks his and our properties were virtually cleared of foxes. Our success was soon known throughout the district by bush wireless of course, and other farmers were ringing up and asking us to come and deal with their fox problems, which suited us because their foxes would only migrate back to our farms. We were well compensated for our efforts with petrol, ammunition, and maybe a few bottles of ale; also we got five shillings for the ears and tail of each fox we killed from the local
The first season we used this vehicle we shot 300 odd foxes with our biggest kill being 16 in three hours of one night. Soon many people throughout the wheat belt took on the idea of chasing and shooting foxes with all types of cars etc. A lot did it just for the sport- especially the town folk. We enjoyed it also and got a lot of pleasure in seeing a dead fox.
As time went on the Agricultural Protection Board commenced using 1080 poison for the rabbit extermination which in time reduced the fox population, and also because the foxes ate the poisoned rabbits. Our special vehicle which we named a Fox wagon was pensioned off, and was eventually scrapped. Something I regret now, and I don't even have a photo of it. I believed the fox population is again increasing because there are not many rabbits to poison, and what kind of weapon will be used against the fox in future remains to be seen. I think that young farmers of today do not learn to use guns, and I don't think they would resort to our methods.
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