There has been a Granddaddy of a groundhog – a/k/a woodchuck – that has lived on my property for many years.
Up until recently, I have practiced a ‘live and let live’ approach to “Chauncey”, my pet name for big guy.
He started out with a burrow nicely tucked away on the edge of a wild wood, far enough from my house and gardens that I welcomed him with a full heart. I even marveled how he stayed away from my annual vegetable garden and wondered where he was getting his victuals, since each year, he added more weight about his girth. In fact, Chauncey had gotten so fat – I had to laugh one year when I spied him struggling to heave himself over the lower rung of my neighbor’s wooden fence.
I shouldn’t have been surprised when, one day, I found Chauncey’s hidey-hole abandoned. Considering his increased heft, he must have out-grown that den and moved on to greener pastures.
A couple of years passed, and I would often see other groundhogs in the field across the street from my house. But none of them were Chauncey. The size difference alone was a major telling point.
Then the inevitable happened. I found a new burrow under the corner of my garden shed – a direct violation of my critter agreement. I welcome all wildlife to my little ‘Sanctum Sanctorum’ on the one condition that they do no harm to my personal property.
I made a mental note to take action.
It was on a particularly nice September day, I had walked down to my home orchard to check on ripening fruit, when I spied another groundhog scampering out of the field, across my lawn, and straight under the steps leading to my front porch.
Something definitely had to be done.
Meanwhile, Doug had installed a game-cam in the orchard, trying to get an idea how many deer visit our trees and perhaps scope out hunting possibilities for bow season.
I was sitting in the living-room when Doug shouted from his office, “That little bugger! Hey, Rob – come ‘ere. I found Chauncey.”
I rushed over to Doug’s computer screen. With a knowing look, he pressed the start button on a video recorded from his game-cam. Sure enough, there was Chauncey, looking fat and sleek in the epitome of good health, scurrying up the trunk of my apple tree, not only stealing bites from every apple he could reach but knocking more onto the ground so he could dine in greater comfort from below.
We found his new hidey-hole the next day. A massive burrow, housing a suite of rooms no doubt, right below the forsythia hedge.
It appears that we have Chauncey to thank for our recent increase in groundhog visitors…inviting all his girlfriends over to the other hidey-holes built in choice locations across our lawn.
And as if that wasn’t the ‘be all and end all’ – we caught Chauncey on our back patio, at the edge of our kitchen vegetable garden. He was sitting on his hind legs, happily munching away on one of our luscious, Mortgage Lifter tomatoes.
That was the final straw. Time to bid them all adieu – including Chauncey, our resident friend turned greedy house-guest.
We dragged out our Have-a-Heart traps and baited them with all sorts of choice treats – juicy ribbed lettuce, slivers of sweet apple, and a stalk of celery for good measure.
It didn’t take long. We duly captured Chauncey’s girlfriend and relocated her to groundhog paradise.
Chauncey however didn’t get as big as he his, nor reach Granddaddy status by being stupid. So far he has eluded our traps. But the game isn’t over yet. We just have to up the ante or else next time, Chauncey may be staring down the barrel of a 22 long rifle.
Nah – just kidding.
I think between Doug and myself, we two humans should be able to outwit one groundhog. Should.