Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sammy The Bushy-tailed IED (or Karma's A Bitch)

Scene of the crime.
I had just passed the 2-mile mark on my jog around the neighborhood yesterday afternoon. That put the toughest part of my workout behind me - the last mile is mostly downhill - so I was relaxed and looking forward to coasting home.

It was a little raw and chilly, but the sky was mostly clear. There was no threat of rain or thunderstorms. These environmental observations are important considering what happened next. A short buzz, a brilliant flash of light and a thunderous explosion directly above my head.

Instinctively, I lurched away from the fireball, covered my head with my arms and kept on running, though more for the purpose of safety than good health (then again, in this case, it's all pretty much the same interest isn't it?). "Sheeeeyt!" I think I yelled.

The vic.
Still running, I turned to look back at the site, saw the powerline transformer still aglow with flame and a smoking, gray, furry object fall to the base of the pole. Satisfied the world was not coming to an immediate end but pumped up with adrenaline, I didn't miss a single stride as I entered the final leg of my run by turning right at the tee box for Black Mountain Golf Course's 6th hole. Four high school-aged boys were there preparing to tee off, with a very serious looking woman who I took to be their coach. All of them were staring at me, wide-eyed and still obviously shaken up by their recent, near-death experience, as I approached. "Are you alright?" the woman asked. "Yeah, I'm fine." "What happened?" asked one of the kids shakily. "Squirrel."

There was a time and a place I would have felt sorry for the little bugger, but not here and now. The squirrels around the house have made bird feeding season a challenge this winter, and their blatant disregard for common decency has caused me to routinely consider breaking the town ordinance that prohibits the discharge of firearms. At first, they just helped themselves to the sunflower seeds in the birdfeeders, which was fine with Sue and I - just the cost of doing business. Then the greedy little buggers decided they could guzzle seeds at a much higher rate by knocking the platform feeder off the post we had mounted on the porch, watching it crash some 15 feet below and reaping the bounty spilled out on the ground.

Hey BB, suck it!
It still would have been fine if they did it once a week. It would have been tolerable if it happened once a day. It irks me to the point of pulling my hair out at once every two hours or so. And, like rearing a child, there comes a point when threats no longer carry any weight. At first I could bang on the window to scatter the hairy little thieves. Then I had to open the sliding glass door and step out onto the porch to show them I really meant it. Now, the bastards keep on eating unless I raise my fist and step within 5 feet. I don't mind telling you, 5 feet to a habituated squirrel is a little close for this outdoorsman. What happens if one of them decides to jump on my face and teach me a lesson in bullying? But at this point, I can't show them I'm afraid or all will be lost.

The birdfeeder and squandered seed is one thing, but the squirrels have gone after my crocus bulbs to supplement their sunflower-rich diets. Back in October, I lovingly planted 70 bulbs in places around the house where I anticipated enjoying the first colors of spring. Nearly half of them are gone now, with just a telltale hole left behind for me to solve the case.

Piper - former squirrel killer turned pacifist.
What about the dogs, you say? At 12 years old, with creaky joints and a single-minded devotion to her supper dish, Sadie the coonhound could not care less about squirrels or their disrespectful disposition toward her master. The only way Sadie would defend this house from the gray-haired hordes would be if they decided to make a try for her breakfast - then it would be a massacre. Piper, though still relatively young and spry, has also abandoned me in my time of need. Once she could be counted on for a good squirrel killin' if the situation demanded it. Now she just lays in the sunshine on the porch while sunflower seed hulls drift down and cover her plump posterior. I am very much alone in this fight.
Sadie - the only squirrels I'm after are the ones in my toy box.

So excuse me if I didn't shed a tear for the innocent little squirrel that scampered playfully into a place where it shouldn't have. Forgive me if I don't eulogize the cute, twitchy imp that came to an abrupt end when 50,000 volts blew its little toenails off. Sue me if I dance an Irish jig at the thought of one ex-tree rat pillaging my flower beds and bullying my songbirds. For I am at war.


  1. I'm sure there must've been some satisfaction at seeing that little sucker come plummeting down, all smoking and crispy.

    Sounds like you've made quite the case for a nice, quiet airgun! There are several nice ones on the market that are not only powerful, but very quiet. Plus, they're a good, quiet way to get some trigger time in prep for big game hunting.

    Oh, and squirrels are quite tasty... although shooting and eating them out of season may not be the best call.

  2. I just had an adult turkey vulture meet its maker in the exact same fashion... Lucky for me I was not out for a run and under the safety of my porch roof. That exercising can get you killed.... or worse... Safe to say I believe the squirrel tastes better however....Still fixated on those damn turkeys. Went scouting Sat and had a big old Osceola in a pine tree right at the edge of the field. I will bet he watched us walk all the way into our scouting positions before he clucked a few times and flew off to the west.Had two or three others gobbling. Season is here...

  3. Phillip - I'm waiting for funding to become available for just such an acquisition. I am a fan of squirrel meat, though it's a bit of a pain to skin, de-hair, dress and parboil the little suckers for what you get. I think it's probably best to tackle a pile of squirrels with a couple of good friends and a 12-pack.
    Sausage - Funny you had it happen to a TV on your watch. Sue and I were vacationing in Belize and watched a pelican try to fly between two powerlines hanging over a lagoon. He didn't make it, sending everyone diving for cover in that busy little port. On turkeys, I've always tried my damndest to keep from getting busted during scouting season, but it's often impossible, as your experience would suggest. I expect a full report from you.
    Brian - I am giving this some serious consideration.

  4. Squirrel skinning made easy...When Porter gets a few more years under his belt, I'll have one of these mounted to our shed out back.

  5. I've got a technique for squirrels that's about as quick as you'd ever want to be. Do it right, and hair is a nominal issue.

    It's a well-known trick, to cut across the back, insert two fingers under the skin on each side of the incision, and pull hard. The skin peels right away to the head and feet. A quick crunch of the knife or shears and that's that.

    Once the hide is off, the gutting is really easy... about like a bird, only instead of pulling it out of the anal vent, you open the belly.

  6. Phillip - where are you starting your pull from, the neck or the rump? Are you pulling in the same direction or opposite?