Saturday, October 07, 2006
Yes, I do really like the movie "Groundhog Day". Although the movie seems goofy at first and the premise of living the exact same day over and over is ridiculous, there are some great lessons that are easy to see. No, this post is not really about the movie. It is really about.......groundhogs! Allow me to make a prediction that you probably have not heard anywhere else. We will soon be overpopulated with groundhogs. There it is. A simple straight-forward statement that contradicts the common sense thinking of all six readers of this blog. "How can that be? I have never even SEEN a groundhog" you will say to your computer monitor. Go ahead, call to your spouse/co-worker "Hey, you ever seen a groundhog around here?" Listen for this response "Nope, I think they are just around Punxatawny." Well, a couple of years ago I would have said that in all my hunting and stomping around in the woods (and that is a lot) I had never seen a groundhog. Then one day I pulled into a driveway off Hwy. 231 at the edge of Wetumpka and there sat two large.....What is that? Beavers? Eating acorns that have accumulated at the bottom of this steep drive? Do beavers eat acorns? Let me see if I can get closer. Wow, they are fast! I don't think they went far, I will walk to the edge of this kudzu....Wow, they are fast! And they don't have large flat tails! They have tails similar to a squirrel. HEY, THAT IS A GROUNDHOG! Of course, I was talking to myself again. At that point I became attuned to the rascals and you know what? There are LOTS of them around historic downtown Wetumpka. As I began to watch them, their fondness for steep banks covered in kudzu became apparent. Then when the leaves of the kudzu die in the winter you can see on the steep banks dozens of burrows. And along the banks of the Coosa are LOTS of groundhogs! I am not making this up. Now, there have been several occasions that I stood 6 or 8 feet above a groundhog hanging out near the safety of his tunnel. Today I drove to an area behind the old Adams Drugs on Hill Street in historic downtown Wetumpka to take a break and eat a pear by the river. When I rounded the corner I saw a groundhog scampering across the parking lot. I stopped quickly and he did as well. It was a smaller one--probably an adolescent disobeying strict instructions to stay within the kudzu. He sat up and ate acorns as long as I sat still in the vehicle. In a few minutes I pulled up a little and he scampered to the cover of kudzu. I of course walked quietly to the edge of the kudzu and looked down to see junior scurry into a hole in the embankment. He was followed by a HUGE adult groundhog--either mom or dad. From the dorsal view I had, the gender was a mystery. The mom (I am playing a hunch on gender) stayed near the opening of the tunnel and was about 5 feet directly below me. Since the bank is very steep there, I thought to myself "I could spit right on her head or I could drop this gum on her". Well, that just seems unbelievable doesn't it? Believe it. I did just that. Go ahead PETA members who are monitoring this blog for cruelty to 30 pound rodents, make whatever hateful comments you want. Not only did I drop my gum on her back, but it stuck in her hair and I thought it was FUNNY! Then, every time she went in one hole and came out 5 feet over with the blue/green gumspot showing it became funnier and funnier. I finished my pear while watching this comedy for several minutes and decided to share the pear core with my giant rat friends. I dropped it near big mamma (that is probably what the family calls her) and she backed into the hog-hole part way but still had her head out. She would twist her head around and look right at me. I guess the amazing thing is that almost nobody who lives and works in this area has EVER seen a groundhog. I have seen scores and scores of them now. If they have become that comfortable around people and are that numerous, it is just a matter of time that you WILL be seeing some--maybe in a backyard near you. When you read the headline in the June 11, 2010 Montgomery Advertiser "Game Biologists Claim Area Overpopulated with Groundhogs", just remember--you heard it here first.