AUDUBON, John James (1785-1851) Vol. I, Plate 006, American Cross Fox

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Painted by John James Audubon (1785-1851) with background likely by Victor Gifford Audubon (1809-1860)
Lithographed by J. T. Bowen &. Co.
Lithograph with hand color, paper dimensions: approximately 22 x 28 inches
From Vol. I, Part 2 of John James Audubon and John Bachman’s (1790-1875) The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America.
New York: V.G. Audubon, 1845-1848.

The following passage is included in the accompanying description of Vulpes Fulvus. Desmaret. Var. Decussatus. American Cross-Fox:

           

“In our youth we had opportunities whilst residing in the northern part of the State of New York, of acquiring some knowledge of the habits of the fox and many other animals, which then were abundant around us.

Within a few miles dwelt several neighbours who vied with each other in destroying foxes and other predacious animals, and who kept a strict account of the number they captured or killed each season. As trappers, most of our neighbours were rather unsuccessful—the wary foxes, especially, seemed very soon, as our western hunters would say, to be "up to trap." Shooting them by star-light from behind a hay-stack in the fields, when they had for some time been baited and the snow covered the ground so that food was eagerly sought after by them, answered pretty well at first, but after a few had been shot at, the whole tribe of foxes red, gray, cross, and black—appeared to be aware that safety was no longer to be expected in the vicinity of hay-stacks, and they all gave the latter a wide berth.

With the assistance of dogs, pick-axes, and spades, our friends were far more successful, and we think might have been considered adepts. We were invited to join them, which we did on a few occasions, but finding that our ideas of sport did not accord precisely with theirs, we gradually withdrew from this club of primitive fox-hunters. Each of these sportsmen was guided by his own " rules and regulations " in the " chase;" the horse was not brought into the field, nor do we remember any scarlet coats. Each hunter proceeded in the direction that to him seemed best— what he killed he kept—and he always took the shortest possible method he could devise, to obtain the fox's skin. He seldom carried a gun, but in lieu of it, on his shoulder was a pick-axe and a spade and in his pocket a tinder box and steel.”