At war with varmints over bird feeders

Published 12:00 pm Friday, August 19, 2016

My first firearm was a single-shot .22 rifle.  It sits in a closet now, bearing the pitiful effort I made at carving my initials in the stock.  The first serious weapon I ever used had a clip of eight rounds of .30 ammo, one of Mr. Garand’s finer creations.  Today I set out to resupply my ammunitions cache, coming home with 6,000 rounds.  Now I’m ready for an assault.

It’s not burglars or terrorists that have me up in arms.  My foe is little brown critters with long fluffy tales who scurry up and down trees at lightning speed.  The Anglo-Normans first noted the Sciuridae in 1327.  He’s been pestering folks ever since.  Alternately, I am at war with larger creatures, waving their big tails with dark circles around them.  They  also wear a mask.  In the old days the fur of the Procyon lotor became fine hunting caps.

A diligent search of state law shows no law prohibits the taking (i.e., killing) of these varmints.  Thus I find it reasonable and necessary to combat them, in hopes of saving more sunflower seed for the birds feeders are there for.  On a “good” night Mr. Raccoon can empty a couple of feeders, often destroying the feeders in the process as they pry up the lids.

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Of course, sitting at the top of the feeder pawing seeds, they make great targets. But, alas, by the time I open the door and raise my weapon, they are on the ground and gone out of sight.  Recently Mother Coon spent some nights at my feeders with her four little ones.  The kids were not quite trained to recognize the sound of the door opening  and thus were easier targets.  Just after dark one day I shot at one, evidently hitting it in a vital spot.  The next morning its body was still there.

One curious action of both beasts is that they quickly forget a sniper is watching for them.  After running away, they will usually sneak back in five or ten minutes, offering fresh targets for a dead-eye like me.  Sometimes after chasing coons away, I will step out and wait nearby.  Out come their heads, looking for danger.  Even if they see me, if I remain absolutely still long enough, they will go back to the feeders, offering perfect targets.

The payoff in all this is not squirrel or coon meat for my table.  No, the benefit of this game is that it pulls me out of my recliner a half dozen or more times each time I’m there.  And as I expend my 6000 rounds of BB’s fairly quickly, I have a good reason for going to the store.

Footnote:  Assume many, many years from now the creatures that inhabit my hill find all these little round silver orbs sprinkled all over the yard.  Wouldn’t their speculation about their origin and purpose be interesting?

TJ Ray, a retired professor of English at Ole Miss, can be reached at