A Real Foxy Visitor At Our Montana Resort

When we first moved to Elk Lake Resort, we had a semi-tame fox whom the dogs tolerated because they could never catch her even though she visited regularly. However, our second or third winter she died.

Since then, we have seen foxes, but more often we see their tracks. But this winter, something has been different. I don't know whether last year was a great fox reproductive year or whether the local wolves have pushed them closer to people or whether the stars have just aligned perfectly, but fox sightings are at an all time high.

Not only have they been more visible, they have been less wary. Thus we have been blessed to have some closer-than-normal encounters and a few good photo opps. However, nothing topped the drama played out in our front yard a few days ago.

Bo had not yet exited the kennel when Rosie noticed a fox in HER yard. With a quick bark and a burst of speed, she rushed toward the fox. Not prepared for the excitement, I did not have my camera in hand so I missed her extremely impressive nosedive when she hit the soft snow the fox had just skimmed across with ease. However, from there on out I captured their uneven dance.

Closer and closer came the fox. Until, at some apparently pre-determined spot, it turned north and crossed onto the heavy traveled (thus well-packed) snowmobile trail from the lake to the lodge.

Maybe some sixth sense alerted Rosie to the fox's position. Maybe she wasn't quite as 'unaware' as she appeared. Whatever the reason, dog and fox locked eyes. You can almost hear the fox thinking: "Must we do this again?!"

A pause. "Are you serious?" Then Rosie takes the challenge.

Once again Rosie charges after the fox. She 'knows' the ground is well packed. Her whole body seems to scream, "You're toast, buddy!"

Sorry, Rosie. Even on hard pack, that fox has a high gear you have never reached - even in your best dreams.

You have to give Rosie a '10' for heart. However, even now, we know (although she doesn't appear to have accepted the fact) the fox is safe. Once off the hard-pack, Rosie has absolutely no chance of catching that fox. (Notice the fox looking back over its shoulder - almost as though taunting Rosie now that it knows it is safe. Cocky little bugger!)

Beyond the dog's reach, the fox slows to assess its foe. I must admit, it shows not the slightest hint of worry. However, it must have discerned Rosie's point. After a good long look at the dog, Foxy turned, passed through the fence, and continued west along the road.

Over by the barn, with plenty of soft snow between it and the dogs, the fox paused once more. So, was that a 'taunt', a 'breather', or just a fox's way of showing its superiority? Whatever the reason, I am thankful it paused. Because, now with big lens in hand (and continuously strengthening morning light), I captured a couple of decent photos of our morning entertainer. Thanks, Foxy.

P.S. Two days later two foxes were seen wandering around on the lake not far from the lodge. So? Does this mean we have hopes of them denning nearby? Maybe, just maybe, we'll see a few more of these beautifully coated, extremely graceful and quick little animals. Since I have no pets or stock they can harm, I welcome the opportunity!

Lady of the Lake

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