The past three years there's been a Woodchuck living at my property. He has four homes/holes, far as I can tell, to my one, all within running-scared distance of my house. I call him Chucky.
I know, not very imaginative. Whatever. People name their black cats Blackie, their white cats Snowball, and their Siamese cats Chin. Secure people, comfortable enough with themselves that they don't have to give their pets cool or unusual names. I like that. So does my pet Octopus, Eight.
Chucky had done a tiny bit of nibbling on my abode. He chewed small bits from a rubber bushing at the front door, and a few bits from a bottom trim board long-side my barn. I didn't much care, the damage was small and chew occurrences were few, spread over three years. There seemed no reason to get rid of Chucky, and anyway, I couldn't kill him if you paid me. He's cute. And he ripples when he runs.
One early evening I saw Chucky rippling across the lawn and over to one of the holes he's poked into the bank that slants high up and away from my driveway. Chucky entered the hole, then abruptly turned to peer his familiar friendly face out, his nose and whiskers wriggling a notion of trust.
"Hey Ace, can you stand how cute I look peaking my snout from this hole? By the way, you're crib is sick. Thanks for letting me crash here," he seemed to communicate, while I stood alone in the middle of the driveway, looking up at Chucky, thoroughly entertained, and wishing my cat were there with me to complete the set that is the family who live on the hill.
No way I'm killing ole ripple runnin' Chucky, I thought ... then. This is now.
Chucky's nibbling has increased. Chucky's been chewin' my front-door jam.
Go ahead Chucky, nibble a rubber bushing, a bottom barn board, a bootjack, or even a garden hose rack. But do not chew a front-door jam. No. I don't care how cute you are or how ripply you run. I paid a crap load for that door.
Standing at the entrance of the home I love so much and work so hard to maintain, seeing bits of chewed front-door jam laying scattered at the threshold that to visitors represents a grand first impression, I have total reason to believe; Chucky's gotta go, or something.
But I love and have grown accustomed to Chucky, and, I'm a pansy, unable to kill stuff, so yesterday I bought a Have a Heart trap. Course, the girl I bought it from told me some animal expert told her that if you trap a woodchuck, take it far from it's home and let it go, it dies anyway. Great. Now what do I do? If I believe the expert, I'm in a no-win situation. I either let my house be chewed to ruin, or I kill a Woodchuck, heartlessly, albeit with aid from the ironically named, Have a Heart trap.
There are too many gol darn experts around. And what do experts really know anyhow? (See BP oil spill, Wall Street 2007-present, ...) And now you're telling me there are Woodchuck experts? Those from whose expertise we're to believe Woodchucks, for cripes sakes, can't make a go of it in the middle of a veritable vegetable garden that is a springtime Vermont forest? Get the hell outta here.
So, I bought the trap, figuring trap-and-release gives Chucky a better chance to live then might a bullet through the skull.
What does one use to bait a woodchuck?
"I hear they like broccoli," the farm store merchant offered.
To be continued
Rusty DeWees tours Vermont and Northern New York with his act "The Logger." His column appears weekly. He can be reached at email@example.com. Listen for The Logger, Rusty DeWees, Thursdays at 7:40 on the Big Station, 98.9 WOKO or visit his website at www.thelogger.com