Hunting Big Game

Hunting Big Game 

There can be nothing worse than having a squirrel get loose in your house. If one happens to come down your chimney when you are not at home it will desperately try to escape to the outside by tearing at or chewing the window frames or by shredding any other wooden elements juxtaposed to daylight.

Once confronted there would then be the additional problem of actually trying to catch it and to control it without being scratched or bitten which would risk exposure to rabies. The chaotic scene in the National Lampoon Christmas movie in which the squirrel gets loose in the house and gets chased by the dog, while leaving the premises completely trashed is not very far from the truth.

Several solutions are possible. Uncle Oak’s method of blasting it with buckshot may potentially be the most effective but is certainly the least practical. Or one can chase them around with all the outside doors open, but with no guarantee that the frightened disoriented animal will recognize this as a safe way to exit.

My next-door neighbor, Doug had one get into his home, which caused no amount of frenzied chaotic screaming. He and his wife chased the animal around for hours until it finally ran into a bathroom where they shut the door behind it. This is obviously only a temporary solution that then requires a next step in the extraction process.

Doug said he was willing to gear himself up in a makeshift triple clothing layered armored outfit, but even this does not guarantee a happy outcome when actually having to confront the beast. Besides that, what type of head armor does one wear to keep it out of your hair or away from the eyes, a knight’s helmet? After regrouping and waiting awhile, brave Doug suited up, gloved up, grabbed a bat and a broom and made ready to do battle. He slowly opened the bathroom door to peer in, but the squirrel was nowhere to be found.

After waiting long enough but not hearing any noise, he and his wife then scoured the bathroom looking for it but to no avail or absolutely any idea as to how it had escaped. That was when someone got the bright idea of looking inside the toilet bowl, where sure enough they found one totally inert, and fully drowned rodent. The squirrel, it seems had somehow managed to flip the seat top down on itself, then after falling in had thus secured its own pitiful demise.

My own experience was not as dramatic but equally distressing. I have a fireplace in my bedroom, which has glass doors in front of the firebox.

Once in early Spring I kept hearing an odd clicking or soft chatting noise coming intermittently from the fireplace. It took two days for me to realize that there were tiny paw prints all over the inside of the glass doors, at which time I opened them and ventured a peek up the flu. Tucked up behind the baffle was a little ball of fur, which was being very still and very quiet but at the same time was also obviously respiring and thus intuitively was also very much alive. I was lucky that it did not decide to bolt.

After several calls to local wildlife rescue centers, I was given the phone number of Gentle Jim, “The Trapper.” Doing my best to describe the fur, Jim told me it was probably a squirrel and he would come over with some traps. When he arrived he said that it is not unusual for a female squirrel to come down a chimney as it tries to run away from several rutting males. As the female then tries to escape, eventually the fastest male is the one who gets the reward. During this frenzied treetop and roof top aerobatic activity, the female does not always look where she is going. Then with some scrambling plunges she is really only seeking the nearest haven of potential safety. This particular squirrel had a unique form of birth control in mind.

Of course I then had to suffer the lecture on how lucky I was I had the fireplace doors closed, how the animal would have wrecked my house, why I should get chimney baffles, where to get them, what kind and from whom.

Anyway, the Trapper’s wife specialized in making her own special bait out of honey, grain and peanuts which was homogenized and placed into a little cup that sat on the trap spring. Jim said that since the squirrel hadn’t eaten in several days he expected very quick results to occur within a day or so. He sauntered out asking me to call him when the animal was in the trap. Sure enough, on the very next day there was the squirrel, trapped in Jim’s little metal cage. He came back to pick it up, stating that he was required to release the animal, but that it would have to be more than twenty miles away so that it would not return to this area. This made no sense to me at all because squirrels are ubiquitous anyway, but who can argue with an expert?

I was then presented a bill for $190 that I gladly paid promptly while wondering how many calls this trapper actually receives in a year and perhaps I should consider a career change. The overhead is cheap, all you have to do is drive over to someone’s house, drop off a small baited cage; then pick it up again when it is sprung. True, I suppose, as long as you do not live in mountain lion, grizzly bear or rattlesnake country.

I never did get chimney baffles, calculating that only one squirrel intrusion after seventeen years of living in this house was pretty good odds against a repeat incident. But I have since had to safely extract and release from the same chimney, one very bewildered Crow and one terribly sooty Catbird.

Things could always be worse of course, as another neighbor up the street got raccoons in her attic when she went to Florida for the winter. Not only did they create a terrible mess because of the length of time they had been in there nesting, but getting them out was a great adventure in animal control tactics. On the day they were relocated, it looked like a swat team assault in the driveway outside. Those raccoons had established a cozy little home, which they were not about to give up without a good healthy fight.

I suppose, while it is probably reasonable to say that one should have the right to keep his home free of unwanted feral visitors, it is also equally reasonable to assume that animals in the wild should have an equally reciprocal right to keep unwanted human trespassers out of theirs; even if their methods of removing you may not be as humane or as tidy as the method employed by Gentle Jim the animal trapper. I doubt that a Grizzly bear would do it in a politely genteel manner as it tries to rip your face right off your head.





Two men in a tent were awakened by a grizzly bear invading their campsite.

As the first man bolted barefoot out of the tent to run away, he saw the other man quickly tying on his sneakers. 

The first man yelled:

  • What, are you crazy? You don’t have time to put on your shoes. Run. Run. I’m already ten yards ahead of you.

The second man said:  

  • You’re the crazy one. Don’t you realize that the only thing that I have to do right now is to run faster than you do?  



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