Warning, if you are squeamish about killing the tiny animals read no further
This week my friends I have kilt the hell out of a gopher. It was not my first gopher kill. Nay, I have killed before, finishing the botched work of the felines, I have even paid others to kill on my behalf, tens of gophers killed on my behest. It was not even the first time that I have set traps with intent to kill. Today, however, was the first time I intended to kill a furry or feathered creature (bigger than a mouse) and succeeded. I am absolutely delighted. Here is my tale.
I hate gophers. Unlike the mole who loves thems the insects, the gopher tunnels beneath the ground and eats the tender roots of only the plants you care about. They breed prodigiously, they live out of sight. They resist humane methods to remove them. They actually mock common remedies.
Place cat litter in their holes to cause them to move away?
Please. They regularly churn up a sandy area in our yard that is often used as an outdoor litter box by the cats.
Buy these sonic gopher chasers that release "intolerable underground vibrations every 30 seconds" that will keep your yard gopher free?
I also have this bridge thing to sell you, our gopher dug air holes right up to the chaser the first night I put it in and continued daily fruit tree smorgasbord within 5 feet of the gopher chasers. Also, the underground vibrations are quite audible at 50 feet with the bedroom window open in the middle of the night. Also, you just laid out 100 dollars you could have put toward better things. Sucker.
I paid alot of money over the last two years to have someone come buy and trap (kill in a trap that is) gophers, 10 bucks a dead one, 20 bucks a call out (call out lasting a month). I am guessing that he has killed at least 15 on the property since we moved in. So there is gopher blood on my hands metaphorically right there. Also a couple hundred dollars in gopher killing fees. Sucker.
The murdery felines caught at least three more, but they don't kill gophers, they just mutilate them and disorient them and leave them to a slow death. So how do you kill a gopher? Well, let me tell you, I know that you do not break there neck like you do a mouse (hold back of neck down with something hard like a key or a finger and yank the body back), it just does not work at all. And gophers have bitey yellow nasty teeth. How do I know? Well I picked up a one that the cats killed, only it was not quite dead yet and it reanimated to give me a terrific bite with its large nasty yellow teeths. Thankfully I was wearing my creature disposal gloves (handy for birds, snakes, gophers, mice and chipmunks, guaranteed!) which were made of thick leather. However, I did sustain a mighty bruise for the effort. So how to kill them? First a digression.
Our murdery cats do not generally kill birds. We have belled them, and in one case multibelled them so they can't sneak up on anything that listens. (alas snakes don't listen). The house, on the other hand, takes sadistic pleasure in reflecting a feasible flight path in its windows, hence we have a fair number of dead, maimed and dying birds to deal with. I need to dispatch them quickly so the cats do not mess with them for hours before eating them. I learned to my dismay that you can twist their heads around 360 degrees to break their necks, so their head is only attached to their body by the skin, yet still they live and breath and squack and generally make you feel like shit. So I came up with a quick effective possibly humane solution. Put them in a bag and step on their heads. They die right quick.
So how does one kill a gopher. Put them in a bag and crush their heads underfoot. So there is gopher blood on my hands, or properly on my shoes, for this, but this is not me killing by choice, it was me killing because it is better than letting the cats have their way with a half dead creature and letting it die over hours.
But this year, I resolved to protect the crop of fruit trees I bought with our populist BS tax refund last year, but I wanted to man up and fight those gophers myself. So first I bought some gopher chasers that are solar powered. As stated before, the gophers mocked me and me wasting my money on such things. So I sighed and went back to the local hardware store and got a few more Victor wire traps. I know, in theory, how to catch gophers with traps, I have read books, watched people at work trapping gophers and I have tried many times before, but I usually wimp out and don't place the traps far enough down the tunnels into the main arteries. The ground is a scary place and I don't like reaching far down hand sized tunnels chockfull'o insects and bitey bitey gophers. But dammit, this year I was going to set a trap and purposely kill a fucking gopher all by myself. So I did.
I spent a few nights planting traps in the insane maze of tunnels around the slowly dying peach and plum trees. I pushed the traps deep in the ground, down the air vents and around the corner into the main tunnels. But I was thwarted. It seems that there were many abandoned tunnels around. I carefully smashed all the holes down so it was clear what was old, and then the next evening I went back and dug out the new gopher mound way back until I found the tunnels and trapped two of the three. I waited until the next night and dug them out and huzzah! I killed a little bastard. The trap did its job and that is one less prolific breeding root chewing pest in the yard. That night I lit a bonfire and wore the gophers fresh pelt on my head and danced naked howling in the moonlight in triumph. AaaaaaaaaaaaWooooooooooooooooooooooooo!'
I don't really feel bad at all. I usually feel terrible when forced to kill a maimed bird and even felt really bad when I had to kill cat mauled gophers in the pre-bite-era... But now, yeah, it feels good. We have lots of peaches to eat off our tree this year and I want to eat them for years to come.
There are some other methods I did not explore, one is poison, which is just stupid, but I can totally see going for it if you were at your wits end. The local hardware store has ample supplies of gopher poison, but no thanks. The next is the Rodenator where you pump propane and oxygen into their tunnel and ignite it. The tunnels collapse as do the pests lungs. Its organic! (really! check out the ridiculous website, great videos!) Our town here bought a system to blow the hell out of all the gophers that have invaded the ball fields aroun town. I would love to do this, but the worst gopher infestation is right where the gas lines are at my house. So not only could I take care of my gophers, but the entire neighborhood, gophers, houses and all, in one big boom.
Now I have a minor gopher disposal problem. I think the right disposal source is to just jam the dead critter way down the tunnel so it can return its nutrients to the earth from whence it came (foul demon). However, with the cats, neighborhood dogs, racoons and skunks about, I think they would dig up the smelly tasty corpse making a big mess. I think our local raptor center would take them, but I am not sure about storage, unless they take ones and twos at a time. I could eat them, which would feel right to me, I hunted it, I kilt it, I should eat it, but there seems to be conflicting information about their plague carrying status, NM seems to be one of the last places in the US that you can easily get plague, every year a couple local cats and children in town catch the plague, so I will try to minimize the exposure, besides they are not very meaty... I wish the town had a bounty, I have heard up to $2 per gopher in places, but alas not here. That at least would give my neighbors reason to take care of their gophers that usually move into my yard when I have made vacancies... I guess I will call the raptor center and see what the dealy-o is.
So in conclusion. I thought about it, I set traps and I killed.