Fox Dens: How to detect their hidden location

REd fox at their den
Photo Credit: Shutterstock/Steven Oehlenschlager

Why spend time looking for fox dens? Because, nothing improves your success rate at predator hunting more than knowing where the critters live. Red and Gray fox live in dens all year long.

Finding one is easy; furthermore, it’s fun!

With that in mind, if it’s fox season you’ll want to grab your shotgun. In the event that you discover an active den site, the distances will be short and the action quick.

1. Stick close to water to begin your fox den search.

Unlike Coyotes, Red and Gray fox like to den near a water source. For the most part, try to keep your search area within 100 yards of a lake, pond, or stream.

2. Well-worn paths are your first clue

Imagine the path you would make if you rode your bicycle to and from school everyday through the woods. It would avoid obstacles, be only several inches wide, and become more flattened and obvious the more you you used it. That is precisely what a fox trail looks like.

Pro Tip: While a fox trail is a great way to find a den, it’s also the perfect spot for an ambush.

3. Sorry looking scraped logs mean you could be near a fox den

Fox kits love to play, and a dead tree lying on the ground is the perfect place to chase each other and practice their pouncing skills.

For this reason, as you walk suspected fox trails, look for heavily scraped logs with no visible evidence an animal has attempted to open the trunk. If the trunk has been ripped open, then it wasn’t done by a fox kit.

4. Circled trees

Another definite sign you are on a kit’s playground is a two to three foot wide circular path around a standing tree. Young fox have to burn off their massive energy reserves somehow, and endlessly chasing each other around a tree does the trick.

5. Latrines and Garbage Dumps

The vixen (mother) and dog (father) will keep a tidy home when the kits are in residence. That means no trash or body waste is kept inside the den. Luckily for you, adult fox don’t like to stay too far from their kits, and this gives you two more signs to look for that prove you are really close to their den.

Check prices for night vision scopes here.


Did you know fox do not chew their food? It’s true! Fox eat by tearing off pieces just small enough to swallow. For this reason, their scat has a lot of recognizable bones and insects in it. In rural areas, away from human food sources, it is often quite dark in appearance.

Red fox scat

If you find large accumulations of feces like that pictured above, you are very close to a fox den.

Garbage Dumps

After the pups have been weaned, the vixen will often bring in live prey for them. The kits learn their first hunting skills by eating and “playing” with this food. However, once the meal is over the remains are quickly removed from the den and disposed of in a nearby garbage dump. Finding a fox dump site (a pile of feathers and bits of bone) is another sign you are quite near a fox den.

6. Bitchin’ Vixens outside the fox den

If you get too close to an active den when the pups are near the entrance or playing just outside, the vixen will warn them with sharp, coughing sound directed at the den. She’s trying to warn her kits of danger, albeit without giving the den’s location away to other threats.

Bonus Tips!

1. Fox den openings face the south.

This makes finding and identifying Red Fox dens easy. The eight inch opening will be made in dry soil, have an apron of “spoil” (dirt removed to excavate the hole) in front of it, and it’s position will offer great visibility for the foxes from the entrance.

2. Gray Fox Dens are Nature’s Best Camouflage

Comparatively, unless you blunder into one while the kits are outside, you will never find a Gray Fox den solely by looking for it. Instead, use the scouting methods above and, once you’ve found the playground, the bathroom, and the garbage dump, start your calling session there.

Gray fox dens are found in hollow trees, rock piles, and even clumps of brush. If discovered, the vixen will simply move them to a new location.

Gray Fox Kits and Vixen
Gray Fox Vixen and Kits near den entrance. Photo Shutterstock/Geoffrey Kuchera

Got any tips of your own? We’d be glad to hear them.

Until next time, when we will discuss where to find Red and Gray fox outside their dens, go put more fur in the truck.

Dennis V. Gilmore Jr.

Dennis V. Gilmore Jr. is a former Marine Sergeant and the author of several books, including two on night hunting coyotes and red and gray fox. He has written several hundred articles on predator hunting for

Recent Posts