Groundhog Hunting

by Big Six, Friday, April 05, 2019, 20:43 (81 days ago)

I pulled an old heavy barreled rifle out of storage last week with the yearning to get out in the fields when the groundhogs start cleaning out their holes. I may be running a bit late but so be it.

While reading tonight I located this and a lot of other stuff I wrote for my sons many years ago. If it bores you my apologies are given up front. It was fun long ago and should be today if I can muster up enough to make it to some good fields.

I was a groundhog hunter in the 1950s and 1960s. This area of Kentucky was/is prime habitat for marmota monax and every farmer alive hated them for their destructive ways.

The race horse farm owners hated them because they would cause a valuable horse to become worthless when he broke his leg in one of their holes. When you grew up in the area and the owners knew you were responsible they were glad to see you in their fields.

In 1961 I lived and hunted on a 430 acre farm near Pinckard in Woodford County that had some of the prettiest alfalfa fields one could imagine. It also had more groundhogs than one could imagine. I used a 640K Mossberg Chuckster and a 6 power Weaver scope all that spring, summer and fall. Lawrence Blevins, the man who owned the place, gave me a box of ammunition any time he saw me. It was a good year for everyone but Mr. Groundhog.

I called Mr. Blevins in 1985 and asked him if I could bring my small sons to his place and show the boys how to hunt groundhogs. He was delighted to hear from me and met us in the road when we arrived. He told us about the infested areas and they were pretty much as they had been in the 60s. We started hunting in March of that year and hunted until fall. I felt like a boy again.

A few years ago the farm was sold. The landscrapers moved in and the alfalfa fields are now all covered with plastic houses. I try to avoid driving by there now but when I do the houses seem like a transparent overlay. Through that overlay I can still see a blue 1955 Ford station wagon sitting under a big oak tree with the barrel of a Mossberg 640K looking out over the fields.


6

Enjoyed that.

by John K., Friday, April 05, 2019, 20:49 (81 days ago) @ Big Six

Similar, yet different, childhood. Same result - I can see the land how it was, not as it is now. Moved out into a deep rural area and avoid civilization as much as possible these days.

Groundhog Hunting

by Cherokee @, Medina, Ohio, Friday, April 05, 2019, 21:16 (81 days ago) @ Big Six

Good memories, I can relate to that.

Groundhog Hunting

by Bri A, Friday, April 05, 2019, 22:47 (81 days ago) @ Big Six

I can very much relate. Spent most of my summers growing up on my Grandparent's little horse farm. They were surrounded by dairy operations and starting at age 11, I was handed a 10/22 and a box of long rifles, and told to rid the place of ground hogs. In short order, they felt comfortable that I was responsible and safe, the next thing you know all the neighbors had extended invites for me to do the same in their fields. To make things better, I had never been given an allowance, but now those invites came with an offer of $1 per ground hog delivered to the respective farmers. I am quite sure they figured a kid with a 22 was not going to break them with huge piles of ground hogs, and I didn't, but did get very good at sneaking up on marmots in mowed alfalfa fields. The local malt shop wound up with most of my money the first few years and I have never regretted that choice one bit.

Groundhog Hunting

by Big Six, Friday, April 05, 2019, 22:59 (81 days ago) @ Bri A

When I became old enough to drive on the public roads legally I would sometimes take a few young groundhogs to a local community near me where some of the occupants would pay a dollar for a young whistlepig.

A .22 Magnum didn't damage the goods too much and only cost (then) $2.60 for a box of 50. The groundhogs would, at times, keep me in ammo and sometimes gasoline.

Years later urban renewal eliminated my paying customers, I moved up to centerfires and things changed... not necessarily for the better.

I miss the groundhog hunting and may borrow that old Mossberg from my brother to train my centerfire rifle.

I don't think the Mossberg has been fired in over 40 years.

6

Groundhog Hunting

by Bri A, Saturday, April 06, 2019, 22:07 (80 days ago) @ Big Six

That is pretty cool, have never known anyone else who ever received payment for marmot removal. I really think that none of the farmers ever thought a kid with a 22 l.r. would manage to kill, retrieve and deliver more than 1 or 2 ground hogs. It would not be a huge surprise to me if my Grandfather was reimbursing them for the dollar either. In order to be sure the varmints died right there and did not live long enough to get down their holes, preventing me from getting paid because there was no way a farmer would've been happy with me digging up their field to retrieve my quarry, I had to get within 20 yards and deliver a solid brain hit. It was also made clear that if a 22 bullet ever made it's way into any livestock, buildings, equipment, etc., that the repayment would first come out of my hide, then I would be responsible for repairing the actual damage.

Enjoyed that.

by Hoot @, Diversityville, Liberal-sota, Saturday, April 06, 2019, 09:33 (80 days ago) @ Big Six

Thank you!

Another world entirely...

by Hobie ⌂ @, Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Saturday, April 06, 2019, 16:40 (80 days ago) @ Big Six

.

--
Sincerely,

Hobie

MY OLDER COUSIN SPENT A LOT OF TIME HUNTING

by SIXGUNNER, Saturday, April 06, 2019, 18:22 (80 days ago) @ Big Six

GROUNDHOGS (WE CALL 'EM ROCKCHUCKS OUT HERE). WHEN HE FINALLY WENT INTO A REST HOME HE HAD TALLIED OVER 10,000 OF THEM.

MY OLDER COUSIN SPENT A LOT OF TIME HUNTING

by Big Six, Saturday, April 06, 2019, 20:44 (80 days ago) @ SIXGUNNER

10,000 is a lot of whistlepigs. I don't think I ever got close to that. But I kept Woodford County KY in pretty good shape for a while.

Used to shoot them from car windows on remote country roads but that was generally frowned upon.

Usually ended up in a big green field somewhere.

HEREABOUTS WHISTLEPIGS ARE

by SIXGUNNER, Saturday, April 06, 2019, 23:19 (80 days ago) @ Big Six

LITTLE GROUND SQUIRRELS

Are WHISTLEPIGS the same as what we call Picket Pins?

by Caz, Monday, April 08, 2019, 09:26 (78 days ago) @ SIXGUNNER

Those are those little rigid-standing ground squirrels that look like their namesake. We have them in Eastern and Central OR. I'm sure you have seen them while hunting out at Clover Creek.

Are WHISTLEPIGS the same as what we call Picket Pins?

by SIXGUNNER, Monday, April 08, 2019, 13:18 (78 days ago) @ Caz

YES

HEREABOUTS WHISTLEPIGS ARE

by Big Six, Monday, April 08, 2019, 12:26 (78 days ago) @ SIXGUNNER

We call groundhogs whistlepigs because of the sound the make when alarmed. Video link follows: (They are not small here in KY at least not like a ground squirrel. 8Lbs and better is common): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lA5qu9rn75c

HEREABOUTS WHISTLEPIGS ARE

by SIXGUNNER, Monday, April 08, 2019, 13:21 (78 days ago) @ Big Six

WE CALL THOSE ROCKCHUCKS OR MARMOTS

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