By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3
On New Year’s Day, we heard the tell-tale scratching behind the wall in an upstairs closet. We’ve heard that sound two other times during the seven years we’ve lived in this house, so we knew right away what it meant: The squirrels are back. And this time it’s personal.
I’ve documented our squirrel struggles in previous columns, detailing the ways we’ve tried to prevent the little buggers from setting up housekeeping in our attic – ranging from live traps to not-so-live traps and efforts to seal them out completely. But, as Google research will tell you, squirrels won’t take a hint. And they’re notoriously persistent and territorial so, once they stake a claim, nothing will dissuade them from coming back – again and again and again.
When we opened the drywall patch that was installed after the last squirrel attack, we came eye to beady eye with the bushy-tailed invader. I looked at Tom and suggested we call in the big guns – literally.
Our new next-door neighbors are long-time friends, and the husband also happens to be an avid hunter. I called and asked if he could exercise his Second Amendment and help us dispatch a squirrel to the great Treetop in the Sky. Minutes later, he was at our front door with pellet gun in hand. His teenage daughter, Maggie, came with him to watch the action.
Fortunately, my kids were out of the house at the time. While the men took aim into the hole in the closet, Maggie and I went downstairs and waited in the kitchen. There were a couple of muffled pops, and then we heard the guys talking about moving the wounded squirrel out of the hole and into a box so they could take him outside and finish the job.
As they tried to move him, I heard Tom say two tiny words that changed everything: “Uh oh.”
I instinctively knew what “uh oh” meant, so I looked at Maggie and said “Jump up here!” We both hopped onto the kitchen island and pulled our feet up just in time to see a very large squirrel sprint down the stairs and run past us. We screamed when we saw him because, although a squirrel is cute outside in the yard, when it’s running laps around your kitchen island, it looks like a giant rat with a bushy tail. The guys were just a few steps behind him, chasing him from kitchen to living room and finally cornering him in my home office.
At this point, Maggie and I fled outside. But I heard the rest of the story after the deed was done. Even after three pellet wounds, the crazed squirrel ran full speed up a wall behind a curtain in my office. Another couple of pellets slowed RoboSquirrell down just enough so they could catch him in their gloved hands and take him outside for the final shot.
When I came back inside, I half expected to see yellow police tape surrounding a little chalk outline. What I found instead was half of the squirrel’s tail just steps away from my desk. I documented it with my cell phone camera because, without physical evidence, I wasn’t sure anybody would believe the squirrel escapade actually happened.
What I am sure of is this: Unless the squirrels start paying the mortgage (and we all know squirrels are notoriously stingy), they will not live in my house. And Tom and I are hoping that the New Year’s Day squirrel shooting puts the rest of the furry neighborhood rodents on notice: We’re packing heat. Enter at your own risk.
Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of nwaMotherlode.com. To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here. To check out Gwen’s new book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.
Author Photo credit: Lisa Mac Photography