For the past few summers David and I have been plagued by a family of groundhogs living in the dark jungle behind our house. We would watch them from our windows, sitting on their haunches, the weeds around them waving violently as they grabbed them and stuffed them in their mouths. Their eating habits did us no great harm, but their burrowing habits however, almost brought down the fence separating our lawn from the aforementioned jungle. They would dig their tunnels from one fence post to another, significantly threatening the posts’ abilities to hold up on their own.
My husband would make threats, sometimes taking aim at them with his gun through the open window, but never getting them quite close enough to take the shot. I would beg him to please not shoot them, (cause I thought they were cute) but when ever I was home alone and saw one, I was overcome with a desire to shoot one myself. (The prospect of proudly presenting a dead chuck to my husband was a big motivator.)
Then early this spring the fateful day was upon us. Upon the chuck. We were both at home and watching as the largest of the family, Johnny, waddled ever closer to the back of the house. David graciously agreed to let me have a go at him. After trolling and eating his way along for about 20 minutes, he made the fateful decision to finish his picnic under our office window. After making my way to the office, I slowly, s l o w l y, opened up the window, and took aim with my .22 pistol. I felt no hesitation in that moment, my hands weren’t shaking, and I calmly took aim at a spot on the side of his head, right below his ear. I fired. And hit. He fell over on his side, twitching violently, and then slowly, rolled over onto his back.
I jumped up, screaming, “He’s dead! He’s dead!” I ran outside straightaway to check on it, and unfortunately he was still trying to….live. I couldn’t stand to watch him struggle so I put one more shot in him to end it. The initial elation and rush I felt started seeping out of me and I before I knew it I started to feel really, really guilty. This was the first animal I’ve ever killed intentionally. Why, did I do it? What had Johnny ever done to deserve such wrath? I worked my way through those emotions, however, and eventually came to a deep satisfaction. I was doing my duty as a human, protecting our fence, and the young, tender crops growing in our vegetable beds.
Maybe next time I will try to eat it. I’ve heard groundhog is very tasty. And it can’t be too unhealthy, they stuff themselves with leafy greens all day long. Have you ever eaten groundhog? Was it good? How did you cook it?
Coming up next, my opinion on Ira Wagler‘s new book and why you should buy it.