John Harrigan: A fox, not too far a cry, from the coyote's cry

JOHN HARRIGAN June 01. 2013 8:20PM

One of the more wonderful books I've ever had the privilege to touch my hands to has been, and still is, Helenette Silver's "A History of New Hampshire Game and Furbearers," of which I think I have three copies, one hardbound (at home) and perhaps two others softbound, at the office. For the knowledge of these I have to thank the late Dave Patrick, and I hope the not so soon to be late Karl Strong. These two men, with the scheming of my parents, are part of what shaped me into the demented person I am.

Helenette's wonderful book, put out under the auspices of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, was printed by the Evans Printing Company of Concord, still extant, and I just now called the outfit to make sure. Hey, the Evans Company is still there. There's hope in the world. Me? Maybe a dodo bird.

How time flies. Just a while ago, a glimpse or so ago, I ran a 33-foot Goss web-press. Not all that longer ago, I wrote words like this on an LC Smith heavy-duty typewriter that could anchor a boat. But then too I've also hand-set type from a type-case on a type-stick, and have run a Linotype, and run a Heidelberg, and a Meihle upright, and a lot more. This puts me in the zoo.

I reached for Helenette's book for some research on foxes. There are two, I knew, grays and reds. But I wanted to bone up. This was by dint of my wife Nancee's great photo (to me, at least) of some fox kits on a drumlin on her farm.

The old-timers called the gray foxes "tree foxes" because (yup, right) they could climb trees (not the old-timers, the foxes). Up around the far reaches of the Place of the Far Back of Beyond, the name silver foxes continues.

To me, foxes are not much shy of God's Dogs, the coyote, The Trickster, which is swiftly evolving into the brush-wolf, the timber-wolf, that we pretty much think we eradicated. It is an animal resuming its rightful niche, nature abhorring a vacuum.

Foxes to me are beautiful animals, even when plundering, which is a fancy word for exploiting.

Once I came home to see a fox in the back barnyard trying to caper off with a chicken, and even then it was beautiful, not the chicken, the fox. In that instance all I had to do was shout, not shoot. Long before, in my stupid youth, I tried to draw a bead on a fox loping across a field on Bishop Brook Road. Never again. No chicken is worth a fox.

Fox kits caper, and captivate. For several years, fox kits captivated tourists at First Connecticut Lake Dam in Pittsburg. Now generations of later foxes caper, and captivate, here and yon. Long may there be room.

John Harrigan's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. His address is Box 39, Colebrook 03576. Email him at

John Harrigan

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