Posts tagged Groundhog

The First Casualty in the Groundhog War


I’ve written before about my battles with the groundhog in our backyard.  I thought I had chased him away two years ago, but like a bad penny, he’s returned.  This time he brought friends.  I’ve spotted two separate groundhogs out in the yard and they’ve got two different hideouts.  The first and most notable of the two is under the shed attached to the back of the house.  I’ve caught them out of the burrow a few times and chased them off.  I then filled in the hole with rocks and dirt.  The next day — and sometimes even within the hour — the hole would be dug out again.  Monica even looked it up online and read that groundhogs hate the smell of dryer sheets so we shoved a bunch in there, but to no avail.


The other groundhog hideout is less of a concern.  It’s a hollowed out stump on the edge of the yard near the stream.  They can have that.  The shed hold is unacceptable.  It’s an eye sore and I’m concerned about the foundation of the shed itself.  After filling in the hole for what felt like the millionth time, I called a professional.  Over the weekend, a guy came and set up a trap to catch one of the groundhogs.  It’s a lethal trap which I’m fine with.  It’s personal now.  He explained that he has to kill them either way due to the law.  They’re considered a nuisance or something so he can’t just set them free.  The choice would be a lethal trap to kill the thing right there or a non-lethal one that he’d then catch and drown or something elsewhere.  Why make the extra work?  Lethal it is.


While he was setting the trap, this guy (who was incredibly nice and very knowledgable) explained that sometimes the animal will try to run through the trap.  This means that it will spring and only catch their hind legs.  He told me that if this happens, just pick up one of the nearby rocks and bash its head in.  You know, like you do.


After he set the trap and left, I had to go visit some family.  When I got back, my neighbor — whom I don’t care for — was having a small barbeque in their backyard with some friends.  Instantly I thought of a scene where the groundhog was stuck in the trap, half dead.  I’d find it there and realize what had to be done.  I would make casual conversation with the neighbors, waving courteously with a smile.  “Beautiful day today, huh?”  Meanwhile, I’m picking up a large rock.  “Can you believe this weather?” THUNK!  The rock lands.  Blood splatters.  “It’s a shame to go back inside.”  THUNK!  One more just to make sure it’s dead.  I never once mention what I’m doing or why.  Then I wave once again and head inside.  The sheer thought of this had me hysterical laughing.  Unfortunately, the opportunity to do this did not present itself.


Monica came home from work today and reported that the trap had sprung and one groundhog had been caught.  He lays there, lifeless, head first in the trap as I type this.  The trapper guy is coming to dispose of the body and re-set the trap so we can catch the other one.  James: 1, Groundhog: 0.  Once the other one is gone, I’ll have to fill in the hole with some extra reinforcement to ensure no other critters make their homes in there.  These are the things you have to do when you own a house.


UPDATE: The trapper came and reset everything.  The next morning we had caught the other groundhog.  The trap was reset once more, but nothing else has come through so I think we’re groundhog-free now.  I consider this a victory against large rodents.

Go Back to Punxsutawney, Phil!


Monica and I have been homeowners for a little over two years now. Last summer, we found that our backyard was also the home of a groundhog. This wasn’t like the cartoons where the creature is digging a million holes in the yard and I’m forced to use dynamite in an effort to get rid of it. Instead it burrowed under the small shed attached to the back of the house where we keep the lawn mower. We didn’t notice it at first because a bush had grown in front of it. After trimming the bush back, the hole was exposed. My father-in-law lent me a rodent trap to catch the groundhog, but I never had to use it as he seemed to disappear after his home was out in the open. It’s fortunate for him because as my father-in-law explained, since the groundhog is a rodent, I couldn’t just let him free somewhere. I’d have to kill it, most likely by drowning it in the stream in the backyard. I shoveled some dirt in front of the hole and forgot about it.

Fast forward to this summer where the groundhog had returned. The hole was dug up again and we’d see him hanging out in the backyard. I put more dirt in front of the hole and he dug it out. I put a large piece of cement that was once under a gutter on the side of the house there and he dug under it. Then a couple weeks ago, Monica and I saw him in the backyard. I had no shoes on, so I threw on some flip flops, grabbed a shovel, and ran out the side door. In hindsight, I have no idea what I was planning to do when I got out there. Was I going to challenge the groundhog to battle or a digging contest? I don’t know.


Anyway, I crept along the side of the house and came between the hole and the groundhog. Meanwhile, Monica opened up the porch door and startled the rodent. He turned and saw me standing in the path to his safe haven. He started running; taking a wide berth around a small tree near the patio in an effort to come around me. Instinctively, I took a wild swing with the shovel and managed to hit the groundhog in the side with it, but it didn’t stop and continued on, presumably into the hole. I grabbed a large rock and wedged it into the hole it had dug under the cement piece, then kicked a bunch of dirt on top of the hole thing. Again, this seems crazy in hindsight because it’s a groundhog. It could dig around this stuff, no?

Then I started to hear a noise in the bush next to the shed. Could it be? Did he miss the hole? After poking the shovel at both ends of the bush, I found that the groundhog did indeed overshoot his hole, most likely due to the fact that I hit him with a shovel. This went on for two or more turns before I saw the groundhog jet out from the bush, run under the porch, and keep going down the stream. I heard him running for awhile. I scared him away from his home.

It’s now been several weeks since my duel with the groundhog. The rocks and dirt I put in front of the hole have remained undisturbed. I don’t know what happened to the groundhog after he ran off, but at least I didn’t have to drown him in the stream.

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