A kitsune teaches me to hunt voles

Red fox in the wind

I have 700 photos and 20 pages of notes to pore over, so I almost didn’t know where to start. How about a snack to tide you over while I wait for dawn?

Listening fox

My group was treated to extended viewings of three species of “dogs” during our three full days touring Yellowstone. And all three shared one behavior — mousing.

Mousing coyote

Wolves were playful about it, with only pups taking part (and often doing so together). The coyote we watched (shown here) was intent and focused. But the fox was pure elegance…so I guess I should let Kira teach us how to take out voles.

Laughing fox

Kira: The first thing I do is find a nice, broad expanse of snow beside a road. In fur form, I’m absolutely stunning and bound to stop traffic. Gotta go with your strengths.

A fox braced against the wind

Me: Okay, Kira. That’s helpful advice. But I think what folks what to hear about is how you figure out the location of a mouse-sized rodent a foot or more beneath the surface of crusty snow while the wind is blowing and your nostril hairs are freezing together.


Digging fox

Me: Do you dig?

Walking fox

Kira: If you really want to make it hard for yourself, you can dig. But that’s pretty boring. I like to use my ears and my pounce.

Listening fox

Kira: Fox ears are pretty awesome things. All you have to do is walk around on the crusty surface, listening, and soon you hear that first little scratch.

Fox looking at the ground

Kira: Sometimes it’s handy to triangulate. You know, walk back and forth a bit getting your audience excited while also pinpointing the location of the gnawer underneath.

Pouncing fox

Kira: Then, when you’re ready, you leap…

Leaping fox

Kira: …up…

Fox in a hole

Kira: …and down…

Fox eating a vole

Kira: …and grab it in your teeth. Three voles in twenty minutes. Score!

A fox in the willows

And that is the story of how a fox catches a vole. Stay tuned for more excitement as I delve deeper into my notes in the days to come!

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