6/18/2009

I, Nimrod

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.
I hunted.

I, Nimrod.

21 comments:

cyclotourist said...

If you have time and patience, it's great to make a fishing pole noose. Take a fishing pole, tie down one end of the line to the last little circle thingie, feed the rest down to you, but leave a 3-4" circle of fishing line. Find an active exit and when a little head pops up, just yank the line tight. Kids love it (seriously). Hurt no living thing, yadda-yadda.

Fxdwhl said...

not gophers, but groundhogs - my grandfather had these dynamite looking sticks that you'd light and throw down the hole which burned off some noxious gas. shovel shut all the exits and seal them in. or he'd shoot them with a hunting rifle. but then again he lived on a farm.

Indi said...

Good God you ARE a murderous bastard!

John Speare said...

My grandfather also used dynamite. And he lived in L.A. The old guys sure had fun. Shame about your gas line.
And of course, I now appreciate your correct use of the term Nimrod.

Marrock said...

I know you're doing the water conservation thing, but you can also jam a hose in the hole and flood their tunnels out and pick the little bastards off with a rifle when they scarper.

Tarik Saleh said...

Cyclotourist,
Yikes, that is some patience, they really rarely pop out, otherwise the cats would get them more often. What do you do with them when you catch them? I am most sad that the cats are so spectacularly useless in this endeavour. The neighbors weiner dog is really good at catching them, but the mess it makes is worse than the gopher holes...

Fxdwhl,
Yeah, I grew up in NJ and my parents trapped the woodchucks and let them out away from the house. My normally peaceful mother hated them so much that she would offer to cook em if my dad and I caught and skinned one for us. The dynamite sounds like loads of fun.

Indi,
Hah. Wait till you get gophers, see if you are so peaceful. I hope you lined those nice raised beds with hardware cloth, else you might attract some. I think Olli would be great at catching them. Let me borrow him for a summer and I will teach him, the tiny hands are good at reaching in tight tunnels.

John,
Yeah, I agree, the old timers had fun. I attribute the nimrod misuse to conflation between numbskull, dipstick and some unclear bugs bunny-elmer fudd dialog.

Marrock,
Hmm, I am suspicious of this actually working. Before I had the massive quantity of water barrels I used to use the runoff from the roof to try and flood the tunnels, they seemed to be resistant to dying or coming out. I think their tunnels are constructed to foil flooding. Also, I lack the rifle and the rocking chair upon which to set whiles I shoots them.

geri said...

Well I must say Tarik, I have been battling some voles in our yard for ohhh maybe the last 4 years and haven't been very successful in getting rid of them even with the use of poison so please continue so that I may live vicariously through you.

Tarik Saleh said...

Geri,

Go Voles!
As I am fond of saying.

Marrock said...

I wonder how much gophers are like rats...

I'm thinking of a trick my grandfather used to use to remove rats without having to worry about the rest of his animals.

He'd leave Coca Cola out for them.

They're not built to pass gas so once they drink enough they just sorta... pop.

cyclotourist said...

Not so much patience as timing... when they're actively pushing out dirt, they pop their head out a lot. Just have to sit there and wait... and it's not so much as to "catch" them, as to kill them. Nylon fishing line 'round the ol' neck does 'em in pretty quick-like. No mess, either.

Jerome said...

I tagged my first one of the season on they hiway today. Had to swerve to getem. Late start for me....

Steve said...

As a baseball coach we deal with gophers and the squirrels that follow them. We have used gopher machines that create a "tunnel" under ground, leaving poison along the path. We have used the Rodentator until a neighbor complained. It also left the outfield riddled with ruts.

Two that seem to work are Juicy Fruit gum down their holes. Can't digest the gum. The other untried but thought about many times is a trench around the property filled with broken glass. The vermin tunnel until they hit the glass then go elsewhere.

Just some thoughts.

Caddyshack in Central CA

Anonymous said...

A .22 rifle is the best investment a small farmer can make. I've picked off so many pests over the years that don't even keep track any more. When all of my buddies are having trouble finding ammo for their high powered hunting rifles, I'm out back plinking targets and keeping squirrels out of my cucumbers (and in my freezer).

Antoine said...

Do you live in civilization man? I see houses and streets in your photos but some of your blog posts read like the jungle book. Deer, wolves, snakes and gophers.

I'd be afraid to get the mail, lest I got taken by a mountain lion.

Now I don't even know what a gopher looks like, but if you're trying to contain a pest like bamboo you put vertical barriers a meter into the ground (like old corrugated iron), actually down just below the surface, and the roots can't spread. Could you encircle your property (or trees) with a kind of underground gopher fence?

lemmiwinks said...

Is a gopher a prairie dog? I saw a giant vacuum truck that sucked them (prairie dogs) right out of the ground on TV the other day, probably not something for the home handyman though.

Since you live in the land of the handgun, buy a C02 powered pistol or rifle and have at it!

Tarik Saleh said...

Marrock,
Does that really work on rats? I have heard the same stroy about seagulls and pigeons, but that seems cruel. I don't think Gophers are that treat oriented, but could be wrong.

Cyclotourist,
I have occasionally seen them popping uop, but never on my property.I wonder if you have more external gophers, ours seem pretty nocturnal here. Again, I think the cats would be much more successfull at catching them if they actually popped up during the day frequently. I will train the baby to jig for gophers just in case she is more patient than I...

Jerome,
Gophers on the highway? Or are we talking woodchucks/ground squirrels/ mice/rats? I only have seen them outside a tunnel when the cats have dragged them out.

Steve, I have heard the gum thing too, I will try it, but not sure how you tell that it works, seems innocuous enough.

Anonymous-.22 rifle,
I don't think I could actually shoot something in my yard without the police showing up. We live on a mighty .33 acres, I think it is technically illegal to shoot stuff in the neighborhood.



Antoine,
I live in a town of nice little neighborhoods surrounded by miles nad miles of wilderness and mountains. So it is possible to see mountainlions in the periphery of town, just not likely. I have seen fox and deer in the yars, evidence of coyote and maybe bear as well. In the neighborhood I have seen coyote. In a 3 mile radius, add bobcat and elk. So we are out there, but at least we are not overrun with orcs, wargs, evil wizards, and whatever else you all have there in NZ. I have seen those movies, those orcs are no laughing matter.

Gophers look like fuzzy rats with long teeth. They are sort of like subterranian rabbits, to use something you antipodites might be more familiar with. They rarely surface. People do put down hardware cloth (steel mesh) baskets around the roots of young trees to protect them, alas I did not, but next time I will...

Lemmiwinks,
Not prairie dogs, but somewhat similar. I think the subterranean rabbit is probably a good analogy for you. Prairie Dogs do live in New Mexico, but not in our town... The vacuum trucks are more for clearing out and moving large populations of prariedogs somewhat humanely, without killing them. The prariedog politics are complex, but they, at least, are on the cute native species end of thing, rather than the garden destroying pest side that gophers reside in. The pest in Caddy shack was a gopher...

I am not a gun owner and don't really see the utility for gophers, despite other commenters experiences, I have never seen our gophers popping above the surface where I could actually shoot them. Discharging firearms in neighborhoods here is illegal to boot. But when the zombies come, then I will probably get a gun for that. As it stands, the tunnels are too small for zombies. Unless they are zombie gopher s of course, in which case I will pop on down to the WalMart and get me an aresenal...

Mauricio Babilonia said...

Stop feeding your cats cat food. Hungry cats make much better hunters.

Barring that, I like Marrock's flooding idea. Just think more like biblical flood than epic trickle—say, all 200 gallons through a 4-inch pipe in a matter of minutes than whatever you can squeeze through a 3/4-inch garden hose in a half hour.

Cody G. said...

Oh, it makes me sad. I sometimes forget that people really are the most important living thing on this planet. Ho hum.

You warned me, Tarik, but I read anyway. I, too, Nimrod.

Tarik Saleh said...

Cody,
you was warned indeed. I do need to point out that, unchecked, they would decimate all of our planted edibles, including fruit trees, possibly including some 50 year old ones...
We have seen veggies go from bursting with life one day, to completely derooted from below in the next. I also almost broke my ankle last year falling in a half hidden gopher hole. I have no love for these little creatures.

Anonymous said...

A less gruesome but equally deadly alternative to jumping on bird heads: back in the day, collectors would 'squeeze off' bird specimens for museums by gently (but not too gently) squeezing them - constrains their air sacs (~lungs) without breaking bones / crushing. Better yet would be to post your chronic-killer windows with stuff that deters by defining the plane...

Chrysanthemama said...

your post makes me so happy that I live next door to my gopher murdering father-in-law who dispatches with the hundred or so gophers from my front yard, the several hundred or so gophers from my back yard, the several thousand from his, and the poor few who live in that amorphous in-between place that is called the Fence. I learned a few years back that when Grandpa happily shouts "I got'im!!!!" It is time to take the young ones inside so as to not bear witness to the bludgering that is likely to take place. And I have to concur...those dang things have eaten through many of my wasteful squanderings at the local native plants nurseries, and I'm a few pennies short in the end.

Thanks for the read. (Ironically, my word verification is anger...is that odd or what?)