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Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency Year Six: Case File No. 19-279

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Where We Left Off:

A couple of young fawns were briefly scared when they wandered away from their mother.


This summer, the family next door decided to farm chickens in their small backyard. I’ve heard of people in cities doing this too. You could be in Sayreville with a modest house and a postage stamp size piece of land and have chickens. I have a friend who is doing this with a decent sized yard and fenced in area in a charming small town, but she’s even looking for more land than the quaint little town where she is.

I don’t have any against small hobby farming at all. It’s the large scale chicken farms you don’t want to live near. There was one (no idea if it’s still there) about fifteen minutes west and just off the highway. It smelled. You don’t want to live near that kind of smell. Large scale chicken farming means lots of chicken pooping and dying.

Foghorn Leghorn

When you have chickens, you’re going to attract predators who love chickens. If you’re from my generation, the first type of predator that might pop into your mind is a chicken hawk! I grew up watching Foghorn Leghorn fend off the little brown chicken hawk who insisted on trying to capture him. According to Oliver’s research (more than Wikipedia), there’s no such thing as a chicken hawk! Instead hawks are often given nicknames based on things people have seen them eating; but even then, chickens are often on the menu. Most likely, a chicken hawk is a Cooper’s Hawk.

red fox walking

Do you know who does love a delectable juicy chicken? Foxes! These lupines and their mystical cousins, the kitsune, are voracious. Adorable, but still fierce little buggers. That’s their predatory behavior when something looks appealing to kill and eat or protect its own young. Most of the time, foxes are peaceful. As long as they’re healthy, they don’t pose any threat to humans. There were some rabid fox attacks on people this summer.

Oliver loves his balcony time for observations over the entire back of the estate grounds. Sometimes he’ll also come up and want to be out there as the sun sets. However, The Cook likes an 8pm bedtime and always calls Oliver to be with her. I don’t think he’s had much opportunity to look for fox activity. Gus hasn’t either. Gus and I have seen them only a few times in our years of adventures and exploring. We’ve found fecal evidence as much as we’ve had actual sightings. They’re also difficult to photograph because they do not like people who move around fumbling for a camera and clumsily looking for a better view.

Since setting up the trailcam, we’ve gotten a few instances of kitsune activity in still images, always in the dark. Other than the trailcam, the last time Gus and I have had encounters with members of the fox community it was 2019! Free-roaming wild ones anyway. We adopted Mimi LaFloo this year a few months ago.

These trailcam images are terrible. Usually the quality is crisp. This appearance of a lower quality series has me thinking: are the images actually blurry or was the creature not a typical fox?

trailcam fox kitsune

I met with Oliver and Gus to discuss the possibility that the images were a supernatural creature. The kitsune creatures are revered in Japan which explains their presence as characters or elements of anime, games, or other consumer products from there.

Side Quest:

In New Jersey, foxes are still hunted for their fur as are beavers, otters, coyotes, mink, muskrat, nutria (I didn’t know we had those), opossums, raccoons, striped skunks, and weasels. The coyote and fox trapping season is Nov. 15, 2022–Mar. 15, 2023 Statewide, except: Jan. 1–Mar. 15 on stocked Wildlife Management Areas*.

* No traps may be set for beaver or otter, and no cable restraint may be set for coyote, fox, opossum, raccoon or skunk on any portion of stocked WMAs until 6 a.m. on January 1. (For a list of stocked WMAs, see page 55 under Trapping Regulations.) Trapping is prohibited at all times within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.
• Traps in tidal waters must be checked once per day, all others must be checked once every 24 hours.
• Report harvest of beaver, otter and coyote using Automated Harvest Reporting System at (855) 448-6865 or Please also report gray fox.

NJ DEP trapping regulations for 2022-23

stock photo red fox

“Nuisance animal control has become a growth industry in many areas as development fragments wildlife habitat and traditional fur trapping declines. This trend is of concern to wildlife biologists, for it indicates that a growing segment of the public is losing its tolerance and appreciation of some wildlife species, viewing them as problems that should be removed and destroyed, rather than as valuable resources that should be utilized and conserved.”

Organ, Dr. John F., et al. “Trapping an Furbearer Management in North American Wildlife Conservation.” Northeast Furbearer Resources Technical Committee, July 2015.

It’s hard to be an ethical vegetarian. I know leather and maybe even genuine fur is better for the environment than artificial products which are made of things like polyurethane and acrylics. I’ll use leather for its superior durability; I can get years out of a pair of Timberland boots but I got “vegan leather” boots that lasted a month.

I also bought Mimi LaFloo at a yard sale where I heard her origin story as being killed on this very mountain. I don’t know if she was trapped or shot; I can’t tell without an X-Ray. The Cook questioned me about this purchase. How could I, as a vegetarian, want this stuffed fox? To me, she still contains a fragment of her spirit even though her soul is in her afterlife. Perhaps, she’s already been reincarnated which would be quite comforting as far as I’m concerned.

Back to Our Case:

Our detectives agreed that the activity on the trailcam is not due specifically to the new chickens. The next subject up for discussion was whether these images are a mundane world critter or a supernatural one.

fox statue Japan
Statue of Kitsune (fox) holding a key in its mouth, at the main gate to the Fushimi Inari-taisha shrine near Kyoto.

Kitsune can have one to nine tails; the more tails, the older the spirit is. The creature in the trailcam images has a phantom glow. Its eyes are luminous. If we were in Japan, what would people think? Here in New Jersey, some people might only see a creature who can be a source for their thick warm fur. The night vision of the trailcam doesn’t provide any indication of color patterns either. Around those days in July, Gus and I didn’t spot any fecal matter in that area. That doesn’t allow for much conclusion, but it’s something to note for the file.

cartoonified Oliver

To get into proper headspace for connecting to the spirit world, Oliver partook in some strong fresh catnip. He walked into the ethereal realm to look for a kitsune or anyone willing to listen. He came across a being that was a lot like a Great Horned Owl except its legs were tree trunks with roots and its ears were branches intricately woven each other as they reached upward.

Please excuse the terrible artist’s rendition by not-an-artist with few marker color choices.

sketch of magical owl

“What’s your name?” Ollie asked this creature four times his size.

“Name? My kind do not have such things. We are identified by a feeling, by a look, or the way our waves transmit through the aether.”

The being leaned forward to sniff Oliver. Ollie lowered his head, hunched his shoulders, and shifted his weight back. He doesn’t like getting close to others except when he feels the need.

“Okay fine, Invades Personal Space Bird. Do you know about the kitsune? I need to know if there are any activity in my land.” After properly backing up, Oliver found a little comfort with the catnip still in effect.

“The kitsune have left that area. It may be temporary. They felt threatened. That’s all I know.”

Ollie said thank you to the large tree bird spirit and walked away. He found a place of solitude to lie down and close his eyes until he could feel his body back in the Winchester-Nabu office.

Case Findings:

The trailcam captured the images of a regular, earthly world fox. While we love to know that they are here, Gus and Oliver are concerned about what scared the kitsune spirits away. As for the fox on camera, it hasn’t had its photo taken since then, July 7, 2022. The rooster still calls out all day. We don’t know if any of the chickens have ever been harmed.

Case Status: Closed


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