In Search of a Foxy Photo
The white and blue foxes of St. George Island in the Bering Straits are not different species, but certainly represent two color-phases of the same animal, just as a black bear may sometimes come into the world with a brown coat. At the back of the village the land slid away toward a high rocky hill with the summit near a thousand feet above above the ocean. The slope was strewn with rocks, between and over which spread a mass of moss and rank vegetation. We had not gone a hundred yards from the village before we came upon two fox dens. A mother watching at the door disappeared within the depths. I stooped to look in and a trail of feathers met my gaze. I picked up two wings that told of least auklets that she had worn while back under the rocks came the guttural warning bark of a mother fox telling her pups to keep low in the face of danger.
There were half a dozen entrances, showing that tunnels ran helter-skelter under the big rocks. We had no blind to hide the camera, so I set it up in the open thirty feet from the den, and slipped on the six-inch lens. Then I lay in the grass to wait. Sometimes the parent foxes would go out and bring in a bird or better still the pups might come out to play. Alas, foxes have a exasperating way of sleeping in the den or lazing around out of range during the day, waking up to hunt and play only when evening comes and the light is too poor for pictures.
Even so, I fooled an old fox one day. I saw her lying on guard at the front door of her home. I did not go toward her, but stalked along over the boulders with all my attention apparently centered on taking a photograph of a rock fifty feet away. I worked hard on that rock for half an hour. Then I hunted for another rock that was nearer. Not once did I look at the fox or let my eye turn in her direction, although with a little mirror I could watch her eyesing every move I made. At last when I was near enough, I kept my back toward her focused the camera and took her picture while she thought I was still photographing a rock.
And yet, despite I was the one fooled after all! When I had used most of my film taking pictures at thirty feet, looked her in the eye and moved the camera ten feet nearer. She merely sat boldly and watched me finally yawning as if waiting for her picture to be taken had really been a tiresome matter.