Fox Pups

Kiana Travel Blog

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The lodge overlooks the Kobuk River

On the fourth of July, I hiked to the Kiana Lodge about a mile downstream. I walked along the strip of spruce trees on soft ground, following a game trail through green forest that reminded me of New Zealand. The spruce stand gradually thinned then vanished altogether where a wide, low-lying clearing opened up; a drainage. After crossing that stretch of wet and spongy, moss-covered tundra and approaching the next stand of spruce, I saw the pup ... then another. Fox.


I remained undetected and laid low, on my side, to watch them from about  twenty yards away. Though there was a slight breeze, I was downwind. The pups stood about ten inches tall and eighteen to twenty inches long.  I wouldn't know how old they were.

Fox pups
Their pointed white-tipped tails hadn't bushed out yet. As I scanned for the mother I spotted a third pup appearing from a dirt mound just on the edge of the tree-line. Their den.  They seemed to be exploring new ground while waiting for the mother to return with food.  I watched them for about an hour, finally eased away, gave them wide berth, and continued toward the lodge. At one point, looking back, I saw the mother perked on the tree-line near the den watching me; too far away by then to photograph.


That was exactly a month ago so I returned this afternoon to see how the critters had grown. The trail through the spruce woods hadn't changed but the wide drainage had been inhabited by arctic terns. While females remained with eggs or newborns in a nearby unseen nest, the males shrieked and dove at me from all sides.

A yaeger swoops low to defend a nearby nest.
They swooped to within just a few feet of my freshly shaven head. I cursed the terns for announcing my position and I cursed digital delay of my camera.


I slowly approached the familiar viewpoint. The fox den is hidden now by green brush. They wouldn't be in there anyway, I supposed, they would be out hunting, getting fattened up for the rapidly approaching winter.  If the terns didn't give me away, maybe it was the aroma of my Ukraine Marlboro since the pup's senses would be keener this month.  As rain approached, I laid there watching and waiting for an hour, munching blueberrys that grew around the area. Nothing. Maybe the entire den packed up and traveled south; were eaten by a larger predator; were  out hunting for the day; or simply had the common sense to stay in out of the rain. 

gejah says:
you can write a book! Very nice
Posted on: Jul 23, 2009
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The lodge overlooks the Kobuk River
The lodge overlooks the Kobuk River
Fox pups
Fox pups
A yaeger swoops low to defend a ne…
A yaeger swoops low to defend a n…
Blueberrys and salmonberrys
Blueberrys and salmonberrys
The third pup stayed close to the …
The third pup stayed close to the…
photo by: rotorhead85