Gopher It!

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Gopher It!

By Art Champoux

Jun 17, 2005 – 7:10:00 PM

GOPHER IT, By Art Champoux

Gophers, prairie dogs, woodchucks or
groundhogs. They are all pretty much the same, just the change in names
due to
various locales. The creature is a hazard to horses, cattle and
gardens. They
burrow under barns, in fields and near wooded areas. Like the one in
Caddyshack
they can be, and usually are, a nuisance.

Farmers hate them not only for the
crops they destroy but also because they make holes that cows and
horses step in and break their legs. Another fact you may not be aware
of, and they are good eating.

The meat is a little like the taste
of a
rabbit. The above fact puts it in the realm of huntable. Therefore you
can do
yourself and landowners a favor by pursuing these sneaky and alert
animals. But
remember they are smart. Their keen eyesight makes this ground dwelling
animal
hard to get close enough to shoot.

In fact, trying to get close to them is almost as
hard as stalking
a Whitetail or a turkey.When they are feeding the best way to get near
to them
is to sneak up in back of them using existing cover and camo. But, one
mistake
and their short little legs can put them out of bow range real quick. .
It is also
important to get these small critters as far away from their holes as
possible.

Broadheads are the head of choice. I
know
people that have hunted woodchucks with field points and watched the
animal go down
the hole with the arrow attached, breaking the aluminum shaft on their
way.  I have hunted them and know that if
you can get twenty yards from them you have done well.

I know, from personal experience, that staying by
their holes
as they exit is not an easy shot. Like other game they react quickly to
movement and can retreat to their holes before the arrow can get to
them.

These creatures can also be of
significant size.
When I owned Seacoast
Archery Center
in the eighties I ran an annual woodchuck contest. Instead of weight I
went by
length and girth combined. It seems to me that what took first prize
was one
about 30? long with a girth of 25?!   So
do not consider them to be cute little
animals. Chances are they get big by eating your flowers or vegetables
in your garden.

At about the size of your cat and almost
as agile
with the ability to run and escape down a hole this animal will test
your
hunting skills and hone them up for big game. Being very mobile they
will challenge
your marksmanship. Being a danger to livestock you should be able to
talk your
way in to farms that want them out. And it may just grease up
permission to
hunt deer this fall. So check out this hunting opportunity.  GRAB YOUR BOW AND GOPHER IT.

 

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