This creature goes by the name of Woodchuck, Ground Hog, Whistle Pig or Land Beaver, just to name a few.
The Groundhog, Woodchuck or Land Beaver as it is called in some regions is a rather interesting creature. However, it can be quite a nuisance and is very aggressive in defense of itself when living in close proximity to man and his animal friends. Most folks try to rid themselves of the woodchuck when it moves in under a building or woodpile, which they are drawn to.
On our very first Spring-time visit to Palmquist’s, the Farm recently, I had an interesting run in with one of these creatures and was invited to remove it from the premises by our host, Jim Palmquist. He even loaned me the most beautiful 10/22 to do the job. The critter was living under the White Pine Lodge, which is where we happened to be residing on our stay.
Our Doxie Phoebee with her face in the Woodchuck hole looking for andventure.
I first discovered the beast when Phoebee, one of our miniature Dachshunds, was locked on point looking down into a hole under the back of the building. I peered into the hole and discovered a big fat ground hog locked on point and looking out of the hole at Phoebee. Now this particular ground hog happened to be at least the same size if not bigger than the dog and I suspected that a country ground hog was probably in better condition that a village dog with a bad back so I was not pleased about the Critter Standoff I had discovered. When I called the dog, she refused to move a muscle as she was locked on to her quarry and ready for battle. Picking the dog up proved to be the only way to break up the staring match and after that incident each time I let the dogs outside they tore to the back of the building to find the enemy.
This a photo of the "Lucky" woodchuck taken from the bathroom window of the White Pine Lodge
Jim filled me in about that particular ground hog and said that it was the luckiest pig he had ever seen. They had tried getting rid of it, but things always turned out in favor of the woodchuck. I offered to solve his problem if he would borrow me a .22 and we quickly struck a deal.
It was our last night there so I had to make it happen in the morning or all would be lost. A plan was made as I found the perfect windows that would allow me a bench rest shot from the cabin when the hog came out to graze on the new grass that covered the back yard of the lodge.
This shot is of Phoebee and Mojo in hot pursuit of the Whistle Pig. Fortuanetly they never caught up with it.
At daylight I arose to discover the ground hog already busy stuffing his face with greenery. I sat in the chair in front of the window, which I had positioned the night before and began to open it. The noise that was generated by plastic sliding on plastic was deafening and it alerted the hog to the presence of something out of the normal. I had to settle for a two inch crack in the window as the woodchuck was on full alert and making any more noise would send it running back to the safety of its den.
Easing the barrel of the gun to the window, I peered through the scope. The upper portion of the window blocked the top one-third of the scope, but I could get the crosshairs on the pig to deliver the lead. As the rodent relaxed and began to eat once again, I placed the crosshairs on the animal’s head, slipped off the safety, exhaled, inhaled, exhaled half and slowly squeezed the trigger.
Shortly after daylight I got my chance to take out the woodchuck.
When the 10/22 barked, the woodchuck turned towards its den and barreled towards it at a in amazing rate of speed. I quickly squeezed off another shot with the same lack of results. The pig was gone and I had missed it or that is the way it had seemed to me. This is my 51st year of hunting big game and although a ground hog is not what some people would classify as big game, it is still an animal and is subject to the same behavior. And based on that behavior, I was pretty sure that I had muffed my chance.
Jim had told me that he thought the rifle was pretty much on and I was feeling a little put out with myself for taking another man’s word and not checking it out myself, but that’s just one more lesson learned and I would have to swallow my failure, blaming only myself for not doing it right. Making sure that I missed was the next step so I headed outside with the dogs to look for blood.
A shot of the White Pine Lodge in the dawn's early light.
A close search and watching the dogs convinced me that it had been a good clean miss. The window sill had provided a solid bench rest and the only problem was that I had not been able to open the window as far as I would have liked. Perhaps I might get another chance before we leave so I headed for the window from the outside to open it another couple of inches. It was then and there that I discovered yet another error in judgment. The plastic frame, that seals the elements on the outside of the window, bore two small holes with edges that were stained black with brunt gun powder. I had killed the window, twice! It’s really very difficult to shoot accurately when you fire the bullet through thick plastic. The woodchuck had dodged the bullet yet again, literally.
It was kind of embarrassing at the breakfast table, but I waited until the entire crew was gathered before telling them about my duel with the woodchuck and how in the end, the beast over came the enemy one more time. Everyone had a hearty laugh at my expense, which I must admit I deserved. It kind of irritating when the only person making you look bad is yourself, but after 62 years, I have become used to that feeling and barely have a problem living with the shame.
The end result turned out especially good for the Ground Hog.
The bottom line is that Jim will be able to craft another one of his great oratories all about that lucky ground hog to entertain his guests with, their White Pine Lodge will have a new scar or two giving it an even more interesting history than it already has and I have another written tale to share with my readers. As even the village idiot can easily see, everybody wins in the end, especially the woodchuck.
This is the beautiful White Pine Lodge in the daylight. This spacious facility easliy sleeps 20 people and is extremely homey in its Northwoods setting.