OLD TIMERS MAULED BY RODENT
By Norris Chambers
Along the creeks there were many squirrels. Clifton and I didn’t do much squirrel hunting because we didn’t care for fried squirrel or squirrel stew. Many of the country folks ate them and hunted them for food.
There was another variety of squirrel that did not live along the creeks. This little guy was about half the size of a regular squirrel, but looked a lot like a teenager in the squirrel community. There was another outstanding difference between the ground squirrel and the tree squirrel. The ground squirrels were not climbers. They lived in holes around the edge of fields and forest clearings.
Clifton and I made a few fruitless attempts to dig into a hole and find out what secrets might be hidden there. Our attempts usually ended in failure and we admitted defeat after trying to follow the tunnels a few feet in the tough soil. Clifton commented that they must have some pretty good digging equipment to move around in the cement-like soil. I readily agreed with him and we decided to call a conference meeting of the interested parties and plan new strategy. The two of us formed the interested parties so we began the discussion.
We considered traps, sulfur smoke and a few other possibilities but we finally decided to try pouring water in a hole until something happened. The big hole that we had in mind was about a hundred yards from the dirt stock tank. This should be close enough to supply enough water to do the trick.
Each of us took a two gallon bucket and we carried the water to the hole. Clifton slowly poured his water in the main opening. When it was all gone nothing had happened so I started pouring. Clifton stood by with an expectant look on his face. Surely the second bucket would cause some concern and bring a resident of the hole out to investigate. But again nothing happened. The water was gone and no ground squirrel had appeared. Clifton began to complain but I told him that they were probably thirsty and were just drinking the water. What we needed was more water. We made another trip to the tank and began another pouring routine. The two buckets did produce a few bubbles and the water was not disappearing into the hole as fast as before.
“We’ll make one more trip,” Clifton exclaimed, “and if that doesn’t work we’ll get old Jack and haul in a barrel or two!” I agreed and once more we headed for the tank with our buckets.
The next pouring had hardly started when we got some action. A thoroughly wet, half-grown squirrel dragged itself out of the hole and lay groggily on the ground. Apparently it was half drowned and partially unconscious. I carefully picked it up and held it in my hand.
As I held the little fellow and moved it around a little it opened its eyes and blinked a few times. It even moved one of its legs and its tail. I held it out for Clifton to examine.
“Cute little character, isn’t it?” I asked. The squirrel moved around more and appeared to be happy with its perch in my hand. I handed it to Clifton for his inspection. He took the precious cargo in his hand and it began to squirm around like it wasn’t too happy. I started to tell Clifton that maybe I ought to take it back since it seemed to like me. Before I could speak Clifton threw the furry creature on the ground and began uttering some foul language. “It bit me,” he complained.
The squirrel was lying on the ground, apparently resting from its recent exertion. I picked it up and held it again. Clifton was jiggling his right hand and muttering angrily. “See,” I said, “it doesn’t seem that bad. I think it likes me. See how innocent it looks!” Clifton didn’t say anything. He was still concerned with his damaged hand.
“I think we should keep it and give it a name.” I suggested as I reached with my left hand to caress its head. Suddenly it clamped down on my hand with its sharp front teeth. It didn’t want to turn me loose. I threw it to the ground as Clifton had done. It might have taken some of my flesh with it as it left. My hand was bleeding furiously and the language I was using was probably worse than Clifton’s had been. As I was nursing my wound I saw the unnamed varmint scampering through the grass toward a nearby brush patch.
Clifton recovered and my wound eventually healed. I had a scar for several years that tended to remind me to find something better to do than pour water in ground squirrel holes.
Was this squirrel adventure fun? It was a little funny when it bit Clifton, but when it bit me the fun ended!