Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrels

moon phase Week of 08/26/2001 Favorable days to harvest

Many years ago I spent quite a lot of time on the seat of an old John Deere tractor. There was no hydraulics on this old model so being young and strong I was the one who rode up and down the rows of new corn doing the cultivating. The cultivators had to be lifted by pulling them up at the end of each row, with a tall handle on the side of the steering wheel. It was tedious work but I got used to it and kind of liked it although it meant concentrating on what I was doing. Grandpa always said that if you get off line a little and pushed some soil over the short corn, I should get off the tractor and go back and uncover the plants by hand.

Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrels

On this day I finally got to the last few rows of the 30 acre field and I noticed there were a 100 feet in 3 rows where there was no corn at all. When I got back to the barn I told grandpa I was finished but there was some corn that didn’t come up at the far end of the field.

He knew right away what had happened. The corn had come up but as soon as it did, a thirteen-lined ground squirrel was there to eat them off. He said I should wait up there for the little rascal to appear and pick him off with the .22 rifle. I said there was another way to catch this thief. I used a fishing pole. Sounds silly but its true. When I found where the gopher hole was I tied a noose with a slipknot in the end of the line and laid the loop around the hole. I let out about 10 yards of line and hid behind a fence post and waited.

I waited for the ground squirrel’s head to appear above his hole. Before he could duck down I gave a tug on the line and the noose came tight around his neck. All I had to do was reel him in and unharmed I dropped him in a gunny sack. I released him a couple miles down the road and never saw him again.

This technique got me several jobs eliminating gophers from the neighbor’s fields as well as a few cemeteries, church and schoolyards. The job didn’t last long though because it wasn’t long before there were no ground squirrels to catch.

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