Went home for dinner. Caught a groundhog.

Those two sentences are not at all connected, but I was famished, and this beast looked so plump and succulent, I contemplated having a tasty haunch of Marmota monax. Fricasseed whistlepig. Charbroiled chuckling.


But then it made all kinds of clicky-chitterings at me, and called me “deplorable”, so we just relocated it to a pleasant spot down by the river, instead.


Then we went out for Chinese.


  1. robertmatthews says

    I grew up on an island with virtually no small wildlife — hardly anything in size between a frog and a moose, and what there was was scarce — so when I moved to the mainland I was enchanted by squirrels and raccoons and skunks and of course groundhogs, which are amusing, inquisitive creatures. They will get into the garbage, but then we leave it out there like a buffet so you can hardly blame them.

  2. chuckonpiggott says

    I have to relocate groundhogs every spring. They get under my front porch.
    Have often looked at them and wondered about stew. But as I have no experience cleaning mammals I’ve always passed.

  3. procyon says

    Shoulder up your gun, and whistle up your dog,
    Shoulder up your gun, and whistle up your dog,
    Off to the woods for to catch a groundhog.
    Oh, groundhog!

    Run here, Sally, with a ten-foot pole,
    Run here, Sally, with a ten-foot pole
    To twist this whistle-pig out of his hole.
    Oh, groundhog!

    Here comes Sal with a snigger and a grin,
    Here comes Sal with a snigger and a grin,
    The groundhog gravy all over her chin.
    Oh, groundhog!

    Now, look out, fellas, I done gone wild,
    Look out, fellas, I’m a-goin’ wild,
    Gonna eat that hog before he strikes a boil.
    Oh, groundhog!

    Ya eat up the meat and save the hide,
    Eat up the meat and ya save the hide,
    The best durn shoestring that ever was tied.
    Oh, groundhog!

    There’s meat in the cupboard and butter in the churn,
    Meat’s in the cupboard and the butter’s in the churn,
    If that ain’t groundhog, I’ll be durned.
    Oh, groundhog!

    Look out. boys, they’re about to fall,
    Watch them fellas, they’re about to fall,
    They eat till their britches won’t button at all.
    Oh, groundhog!

    There’s a little piece of cornbread a-layin’ on the shelf,
    Little piece of cornbread a-layin’ on the shelf,
    If you want any more, you can sing it yourself.
    Oh, groundhog!

    Doc Watson

  4. numerobis says

    irisvanderpluym: apparently squirrels don’t take well to relocating; typically it’s just a cruel way to slowly kill them.

    I thought having cats would deter squirrels, but no. The cats just look out at them nibbling on my tomatoes.

  5. says

    Woodchucks are members of some weird cult. I often observe them standing up and praying. Or something that involves them facing toward the sun with their hands together. It’s kind of unsettling – what do they know that we don’t?

  6. karmacat says

    Won’t the Chinese object to you having them for dinner? Will you be using the book, To Serve Chinese?

  7. kestrel says

    This reminds me of a poem:

    It is winter.
    The groundhog comes out of his hole and sees a shadow.
    It is the shadow of my right front tire.
    That means winter will last another six weeks.
    But not for him.

  8. smellyoldgit says

    The Smelly household hosts a three year old Siberian Husky.
    Last night it met a huge adult groundhog behind our chicken coop.
    The hog was soon relegated to a broken necked bloodied mass in the trash bin.
    Nature works in mysterious & wonderful ways.

  9. anbheal says

    @7 karmacat — Goddamnit, I was just about to comment on how tough and stringy they are if not marinated and slow-cooked!

  10. says

    Y’all know me. Know how I earn a livin’. I’ll catch this hog for you, but it ain’t gonna be easy. Bad hog! Not like going down to the pond and chasing bluegills and tommycocks. This hog, swallow you whole. No shakin’, no tenderizin’, down you go. And we gotta do it quick, that’ll bring back your tourists, put all your businesses on a payin’ basis. But it’s not gonna be pleasant! I value my neck a lot more than three thousand bucks, chief. I’ll find him for three, but I’ll catch him, and kill him, for ten. But you’ve gotta make up your minds. If you want to stay alive, then ante up. If you want to play it cheap, be on welfare the whole winter. I don’t want no volunteers, I don’t want no mates, there’s too many farmers on this island. Ten thousand dollars for me by myself. For that you get the head, the tail, the whole damn thing.

  11. says

    The thing about a groundhog, it’s got lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll’s eyes. When it comes at you it doesn’t seem to be livin’… until he bites you, and those black eyes roll over white…

  12. wzrd1 says

    Hey, better than what I’ve been seeing on the roadside and am dreading finding on my property, skunks and armadillos. The former’s bad enough, but I can deal with them (largely, as I have no sense of smell to speak of), the latter, a known carrier of Hansen’s disease.
    Have the potential of becoming quite, erm, aromatic.
    Contract Hansen’s disease.

    Skunk Off works and isn’t all that expensive. That said, skunks usually leave me alone, as I leave them alone. I just increase the amount of traffic until they want to be somewhere less noisy.

    I’m surprised that I haven’t saw much in the line of raccoons around here, let alone groundhogs. But, *something* large got into my garden and carried off a mid-sized honeydew melon and left it half-eaten (it returned the following night and finished it off).
    And I have this thing, if I plant my veggies, I’m going to eat them. If something eats those veggies, I guess I’ll have to eat them second hand by eating that which ate them. I just have some pause with this one, whatever it was carried a mid-sized honeydew melon around two meters away and ate half of it. Something that big might turn around and try to eat me in retribution for my attempt! ;)
    Not sure what it was, couldn’t make out the dentition from the bites in the melon well enough. :/

  13. blf says

    why do you need to relocate your groundhogs?

    So there is a continuing tasty fodder. (You don’t relocate all the meals-on-paws.)

  14. says

    Cray #20, I am also a foreigner here, but I happen to know that groundhogs tend to make a mess of gardens, take apart rubbish bins, and undermine houses. All while being quite agressive so you can’t easily chase them away.

  15. carlie says

    Friend of mine has been trapping and releasing groundhogs from his yard for about a month now. (it turns out that once one is gone, another will move in to take advantage of the empty space). This lasted until yesterday, when he got up and found an 8-pound skunk in the trap. He has decided to stop trapping.

  16. says

    I hate those damned things. Bunnies, too. They’re the only reason I have to fence in my garden. Last year, I didn’t fence the tomato plants and I didn’t get one damned tomato for myself. About two days before I’d decide it was ripe to pick, half of it would be gone.

    I was trapping and releasing for a while, but as carlie mentioned above, I had a couple of run-ins with trapped skunks that put an end to that. The skunks are actually pretty calm and you’ve really got to piss them off to get sprayed. I just lifted the bail on the trap with a rake and they just wandered off, to be anywhere but near me.

    This year, raccoons started climbing the fence and decimated my sweetcorn.

    I think I’m done with gardens.

  17. jrkrideau says

    I’ve never had groundhog but some summer neighbours from Virginia use to shoot the occasional one for dinner. I never got the recipe or an invitation to dinner when they were serving it. More the pity.

    For those with squirrel problems one might want to look into http://www.squirrelcookoff.com/cook-off-info.html. I have cook squirrel a couple of times, very rich the way I did it but not bad.

  18. jrkrideau says

    @ 18 Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    I think I could live with going out for Chinese for the rest of my life.

    Well, if you want to stay in rather than going out, I can highly recommend:

    Dunlop, F. (2013). Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking (1 edition). New York: WW Norton.

    I am slowly eating my way through it with great enjoyment. Unfortunately, a quick check of the index does not show an entry for groundhog or woodchuck.

    The author is from England and possible the supply of groundhogs is limited there.

  19. blf says

    The author is from England and possible the supply of groundhogs is limited there.

    Check for squirrel, specifically, gray (or grey) squirrel. A major pest (invasive species), not protected, and there is a movement afoot to eat the buggers (The ultimate ethical meal: a grey squirrel: “It tastes sweet, like a cross between lamb and duck. And it’s selling as fast as butchers can get it”).

  20. jrkrideau says

    @ 20 cray

    RE Groundhogs

    Think of an animal about the size of an 7–8 kg cat, that eats anything and everything in your garden and lives in a burrow in the ground.

    There are two and, sometimes three, entrances to the burrow, each entrance is a hole in the ground about 25-30 cm in diameter with the excavated dirt piled up around it. In heavy growth you could fairly easily step in a groundhog hole and break a leg.

    They have a voracious appetite. My father, who ran a farm, estimated that one groundhog could eat up to a ton of hay a year. I hate to think what they could do to a market-garden operation.

    My personal approach, if not in an urban area, is to shoot them first, then relocate them.

  21. jrkrideau says

    @ 27
    Good to see. Good healthy meat and keeps down an invasive species. A win all around.

    Unfortunately I live in Canada and it is very hard to sell wild game, at least in my province so I cannot just go to the butcher. OTOH, I could set a trap in the back garden and have dinner in a hour if I didn’t get Fluffy the cat from next door.

    The local university is so infested with squirrels that new students marvel at them. I curse; I forgot I had a bag of peanuts in my bicycle pannier last year one of the University library and a squirrel ripped it to shreds.

    We call ours black squirrels but I think they are the same brand and they, too, are driving out the native red squirrels

  22. Rich Woods says

    @numerobis #5:

    I thought having cats would deter squirrels, but no. The cats just look out at them nibbling on my tomatoes.

    You need to invest in an air rifle and a knowledge of spatchcocking.


  23. carlie says

    My parents had to do squirrel relocation once when the ones in their yard got a hankering for engine wires and kept shorting out the car. Had to keep trapping until they were sure they had gotten all of the ones who had somehow acclimated themselves to the engine compartment.

    drksky – I wish my friend had known they were that docile. Being in the position of having a painter and a gutter installer both coming over that same morning and NOT wanting to work on the back of the house with a trapped skunk in the yard, he had to pay through the nose to get a wildlife exterminator out a) fast and b) for a skunk.

  24. thebookofdave says

    @ 3

    Yes, but it won’t help your “friend” grill it, or display its head upon a stake as a warning to others.