John Mahoney's Free-fire Zone
John Mahoney
John Mahoney
is editor of the Log Cabin Chronicles.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 07.22.09
Cobden, Ontario


Big game hunter, me

Call me Ratty.

That's one of my "AKA" monikers -- 'also known as' in the parlance.

There's Muskrat Johnny, because I live on Muskrat Lake.

Ratty honors my new avocation: trapping chipmunks. And other critters.

Here's the 'why.'

We're being overrun with chipmunks. They're everywhere -- under the apple tree, scampering along the back fence, tunneling storage chambers under the front steps, digging up Jane's flower bulbs to stash away in the tunnels.

Eastern chipmunks breed twice each season, squirting out 4-5 ravenous babies each litter. They breed, too, and in a couple of years there are a lot of them zipping around the homestead.

Chipmunks were called ajidamoo by the Objibwe people. In Algonquin it means "too small to be eaten by white man." In Cobdenaise, it means "You little shit, stop digging up my flower garden."

The Powers That Be don't allow elimination by lead here in Cobden on the Muskrat. That puts me in the armed but not dangerous category.

Jane said: "Get a Have A Heart." She said that several times. So, I did.

Forty bucks up at Schauer's Hardware Emporium plus a 13 percent tax bite from the feds and the province.

As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, July 21, I have caught six of the little robbers. And released them a long way from home.

The one I let go in Freedomland about 4:15 today - that's what I call the field just outside the village -- was fat and aggressive. Whatever sex it was, it was trying to gnaw through the metal cage and glared at me when I talked to it. If it was bigger and escaped, I'm sure it would have gladly ripped my throat out.

I reckon that to date each rodent has cost me about eight bucks, but there are sure to be more to come and that will reduce the cost per chipmunk investment.

I'm not counting the other two critters I trapped.

One was a demented bird that was going totally nuts inside the cage.

The other I discovered at 1:15 a.m.

I awakened with a start, realizing I had disremembered to bring in the trap as we had nocturnal skunk visitors. That was the last thing I wanted to find in the morning inside the trap -- a pissed-off skunk whose next target would be moi.

So, I pulled on my trousers, grabbed a flashlight, and stumbled out into the back yard. The trap door was shut. I could dimly see motion inside.

"Got one", I said to myself. "Hot damn! That's a big one. Look at the size of that tail. Big as a rat..."

Yes, indeed. Big as a rat. A big swamp rat. A big pissed-off swamp rat.

Word of advice: Do not put a wire cage containing a big pissed-off swamp rat on your glass-topped patio table and leave it to deal with until morning.

Unless you are prepared to bleach, scrub, and hose off thoroughly.

It hated me, too. Of course, I took it to Freedomland.

"Live long and prosper," I said as I raised the trap door and it leaped from the cage.

The trap is again baited with four dried cranberries, the trigger is set. I'm going out now to check...