My Battle With The Smartest Groundhog On Earth

Vaughn Hardacker here: Summer in Aroostook County has finally come and gone. Last week we had a three day period of ninety plus degree days (part of a record setting run of 11 consecutive days in which the temperature was eighty degrees or higher). One of those days matched the all-time record of ninety-six at the Caribou National Weather Service (the thermometer display on my truck console read ninety-seven, a new record, but only the NWS reading counts). Now, it’s only a matter of days before winter returns.

By now you are probably asking, “What does all this have to do with groundhogs?” The answer is that when it gets that hot groundhogs will exit their underground dens in search of someplace cooler–such as my garage. Last winter was not as cold as the previous few and I used fewer wood pellets than in years past. You can imagine how delighted I was to learn that something had chewed the bottom off several bags, leaving an impressive mound of pellets spread across my garage floor. Enter Ms. Groundhog–I was told by my neighbor that he had seen the groundhog on my lawn with a young one trailing behind.

Not being a person who is intelligent enough to leave well-enough alone, I decided to rid myself of this pest before her clan grew even larger. I was a man with a mission. Over the years I’ve mellowed quite a bit. Twenty years ago the Marine in me would have taken over and I would have set up an ambush, waiting all night for (as We Marine Sharpshooters say) my one shot; one kill. Being considerably older and less gung ho, I decided to take the humane course of action and capture it alive. My plan was simple: buy a live trap, catch it, and relocate it. For a few minutes I played around with the fantasy of releasing it near my neighbor who lives up the road’s property–he has a huge vegetable garden, food of choice for any groundhog. However, I decided that giving it a ride on my ATV was a better choice–something like a ten mile ride into woods where I would release it.

The plan: I have a friend who owns a live trap so I visited her only to learn that she and her husband have been involved in the same battle . . . to date they have captured six. She told me that Tractor Supply in Presque Isle sold them. I inquired as to what sort of bait I should use. She said: “I was told lettuce or other vegetables will work, but we had better luck using donuts. With this information I ventured off and bought live traps. Tractor Supply had a deal where if you bought a Raccoon-size trap, it included a smaller trap free of charge. I thought this was ideal, one for Mama and one for baby.

I placed the traps baiting them with donuts and vegetables and waited for the next morning. When morning came the trap was sprung. However, no groundhog inside. Even more baffling was the fact that the donuts were gone and the vegetables left behind! After some thought I realized that this actually made sense. My partner, Jane, had seen the obese villain (see picture above) and said, “It sure isn’t on a low-fat diet.”

I was not about to be defeated. That night I re-baited the trap. Next morning. Same results.

On night three I changed my tactics. I placed both traps and baited them with donuts (I assume that by now you are having visions of Bill Murray in Caddy Shack!).

Morning day four: Large trap was not sprung–donuts gone. Small trap was sprung . . . donuts gone . . . no captured groundhog in either one (Mama must have taught her little one well!).

By now I’m starting to feel more than a little demented. I will not be defeated!! I will get these demonic creatures!!! I have sent messages to some of my Marine buddies requesting Claymore mines, and if that fails I’ll get a sniper team!!!!

If that doesn’t work–does anyone remember a song entitled: They’re Coming To Take Me Away, HA HA, HO HO, HEE HEE?

 

About Vaughn C. Hardacker

Vaughn C. Hardacker has completed five novels and numerous short stories. He is a member of the New England Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America and the International Thriller writers. Three times he has been a finalist in the Maine Literary Awards Crime Fiction category, SNIPER, in 2015, THE FISHERMAN in 2016, and WENDIGO for the 2018 award. The second installment of his Ed Traynor series, MY BROTHER'S KEEPER was released in July 2019 and is available through all major booksellers. A signed copy can be ordered directly from Vaughn (vhardacker@gmail.com). THE EXCHANGE his next crime/thriller will be released on September 4, 2020. He is a veteran of the U. S. Marines and served in Vietnam. He holds degrees from Northern Maine Technical College, the University of Maine and Southern New Hampshire University. He lives in Stockholm, Maine.
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11 Responses to My Battle With The Smartest Groundhog On Earth

  1. kaitlynkathy says:

    Thanks for the laugh before coffee, Vaughn. I sympathize. Really.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    We used to just shoot them, Marine.

    Kate

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    • Under normal conditions I would. However, I have neighbors on three sides all within 100 feet. In Maine it’s illegal to discharge a firearm within 100 yards of a dwelling or state boat launch. Therefore live trap is how I opted to go. However there has been a change…the groundhog and I sat down together and came to an arrangement…so long as he/she do not damage any of my buildings or stuff (I don’t have a vegetable garden) I will allow him/her to continue living under my storage shed. We’re still negotiating the rent though.

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  3. Kay Garrett says:

    We have groundhogs in our area as well. We love watching them as we do all our critters, but then again they’ve not gotten close enough to the house as yours. Good luck on rounding them up to re-home them. Maybe a home away from the temptations of donuts and the start of getting healthier and trim. 🙂
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

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    • The groundhog and I sat down together and came to an arrangement…so long as he/she do not damage any of my buildings or stuff (I don’t have a vegetable garden) I will allow him/her to continue living under my storage shed. We’re still negotiating the rent though.

      Like

  4. Julianne Spreng says:

    Coexisting with wildlife can be a challenge. (Understatement of the year.) I don’t mind sharing, only we were losing a lot of sweetcorn to raccoons. We live trapped 2 raccoons and 15 groundhogs! My pumpkin patch was ripening nicely when a large hole appeared in the middle overnight. It was a groundhog. This one restrained its gluttony to one pumpkin at a time. No problem.

    My husband tried to wage war with several that were undermining a culvert used to cross the spring run to our garden. He tried to smoke them out. Filled in the holes. Even dumped moth crystals down the entrances in an attempt to stink them out. They never left the warren but stopped expanding the dig. So, again, no problem.

    I’ve never heard of the donut lure. I laughed out loud! That they were able to steal them without getting caught doesn’t surprise me at all. We used peanut butter. I don’t believe my husband would be willing to share his donuts. Even if it caught the whistle pigs.

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    • Julianne Spreng says:

      PS I remember hearing that song on the RADIO! My sisters and I would sing along at the top of our lungs.

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    • Tell your husband that I’ve come to see things his way. I ate the rest of the donuts. However, the groundhog and I sat down together and came to an arrangement…so long as he/she do not damage any of my buildings or stuff (I don’t have a vegetable garden) I will allow him/her to continue living under my storage shed. We’re still negotiating the rent though.

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  5. Yes, those groundhogs are wily little (or obese) beasts. I’ve had a two-year problem with them turning my lawn into a dust bowl digging for grubs. Tried seeding with nematodes, baiting traps, and even playing setting up a radio and tuning it in to all night right wing talk radio. I’m no closer to catching them, but I’d like to believe they’ve become brainwashed.

    Like

    • The groundhog and I sat down together and came to an arrangement…so long as he/she do not damage any of my buildings or stuff (I don’t have a vegetable garden) I will allow him/her to continue living under my storage shed. We’re still negotiating the rent though.

      Like

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