By Kathleen Gurbacki
How much wood can a woodchuck chuck ... you know the saying. But, do you know how smart some of these critters really are? We have been dealing with one that was been able to elude us all spring, summer and fall.
Our yard is quite large, and, quite a few years ago, set back from the house, my husband and I built a wooden deck at ground level. We incorporated three large maple trees into the deck and it has always been a nice spot to sit and relax in the shade.
This past summer, a woodchuck (also known as a groundhog) also thought it was a nice spot to build an underground (under deck) burrow. We have had woodchucks in the yard in the past, but were able to trap and relocate them. This one has been quite a challenge. He’s smart and, according to Webster, one of the definitions of smart is “Impertinently witty: often used contemptuously.” That’s the type of critter we have been dealing with.
After getting into our vegetable garden, we set out the trap at his point of entry, but he was too smart for that. He was not tempted by the carrots we used as bait and just found another way to get into the garden. We tried to set the trap again at the entrance to the burrow and barricaded the sides with rocks so that he would have to exit via the trap. That didn’t work. He moved the rocks and escaped alongside the cage. After our attempt to make a bigger and better barricade he just dug another hole and created another exit and entry point for himself.
At one point, I saw him enter his little hideaway and went out to check on him. He had his head sticking out the hole and was blinking his eyes at me. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I started talking to him asking him to go somewhere else, but he just kept blinking. I had to admit, he was kind of cute.
On another occasion, I looked out the front window and he was sitting on the lawn staring up at the window. I felt like he was calling out, “catch me if you can.” He waited for me to come outside and then took off across the street and under the neighbors shed. I had hoped he liked it better there, but you guessed it, it wasn’t long before he was running around our yard again. He was in the garden and eating the carrot tops.
That woodchuck had been around our yard so long that he almost felt like a pet. I named him “Woody.” I think he will probably stay through the winter.
With the mild winter we’ve been having I thought I might see Woody again. No such luck. He’s probably snug in his lower apartment. I’m hoping that in February, he just might give us our own Groundhog Day celebration and show up. Maybe a little woozy from a long winter nap and easy to catch.
Either that, or he will make an appearance just to tell us that spring is just around the corner and so are his shenanigans.
I only hope that when that time of year comes around when critters seem to like each other enough to find a mate that he finds himself a nice girl and starts a family. Maybe then he’ll leave his bachelor pad and find another location. Or, we will have his offspring to deal with as well.
Kathleen Gurbacki, of Lancaster, has high hopes for Groundhog Day.