Generally in our chicken experience when you come upon clumps of feathers....
...the ending is not good. We had 5 killed early one morning, just little broken necked heaps of feathers. I saw a tail go up the trail & thought it to be either a fox or the Predator.
The Predator is a gigantic male cat that is every color of the forest & his fur sometimes seems to reflect the green tints. You CANNOT see him even if looking straight at him unless he blinks or chooses to move or is chasing your female cat. I'd like to get a picture of him but it wouldn't do any good; he's invisible. We also call him Mr. Peepers as he has a thing for staring through the bathroom window at whoever is doing their business. And you just can't see him though looking right at him or the birds playing right in front of him.
But despite all of the feathers
the ending here is happy. At least for the chickens, I didn't want to do it but it had to be done.
She was beautiful & terribly brazen. She attacked the chickens right at lunch time. I have since read that foxes will stake out & study your habits so as to know when their hunting time is to their best advantage. They are part of the canid family. I shot (zing! I always practice w/ hearing protection on & promptly lost the working of my right ear for awhile.) into the fight to get her off of the rooster & she ran to the base of the trail & just looked at me watching me eject the shell & put a new one in & presented the perfect target. Since this was a second attack & I knew she was storing up food (they bury extra kills to save for later) I shot to save my ladies.
This is what Mike saw when he pulled in from running errands into town. I didn't want to leave her for him to deal w/ as I had been the one to shoot her & I knew foxes had fur that had once been valuable (is it still?) & I HATE to waste anything & kill w/out reason so I decided to try to skin her. I've plucked chickens but never a fur bearer. Victor had received a comic book from my mom some years ago from the Mo. Hunter Education Chris's First Hunting Adventure. In that story Chris gets separated from his party, a storm or cold night is coming, he sees a deer, shoots, field dresses it sets up camp & is just a general all around Eagle Scout. But based on what I remembered of Chris I hung her up, bled her out & started skinning.
I cut around her hanging knee & unzipped her along the inner leg until I got to her lady parts. That was a distressing moment because you have to cut through laterally & in skinning her I got to know her. That sounds like a serial killers thought, but it's true. She was in full milk so I knew she had a den of hungry kits nearby (Did you know you could milk a fox?!) & I was guessing she was having a hard time feeding them as she was out in the middle of the day. I hung up the other leg & unzipped it until I could just pull it down around the body. It's a fairly thin skin w/ a lot of fur.
I didn't skin the head though I would of liked to. What I'll do w/ all of it I don't know yet. I skinned as much of the fat off as I could & kept cutting into milk glands. The chicken loved mammary tissue.
Mike gutted it for science & took the head away w/ the entrails to our private little valley of death. It's just a gully 100 yards from water or the house where chicken corpses go. Vultures arrived very quickly, it was a nice cool windy day threatening rain so I got to work in relative fly free comfort.
Since he took the head & I don't like digging around back there I couldn't try brain tanning so I opted to just salt it. I used pickling salt as it's coarse & the table salt as it's fine. There were a lot of little pellet holes & I wanted to get it all. The moisture started to draw out after an hour & pool (gross!) so I tilted the soda crates to drain it off. My sister in law gave us a bunch of soda crates, they are so darn handy for a million things.
I tried to get the tail off w/ the pelt but it ripped. Being the truly classy woman I am I sewed some kitchen string through the vertebrate & have been letting it flutter on my antennae as we go or stay about our business. Aren't you glad I'm not your mom?
Vixen was on Greenback, our alpha rooster. Victor heartily dislikes him. Bullet is his favorite rooster as he's large, friendly & red. Victor is a wild trip, he's telling everyone how the other chickens don't respect greenback anymore because he's got a hen's tail. He had a bit of blood & got to live another couple of weeks as he is on our menu for our next chicken meal. Poor roosters never catch a break.
In a final show of justice Mike then cooked the fox over our pit to feed it to the chickens.