Running laps with a deceased armadillo

Published 9:45 am Wednesday, June 14, 2023

By Harold Brummett
Denmark Star Route

Signs of the armadillo had been getting worse for weeks. The rooted up soil and plants had the look of an unhappy gardener set loose with a tiller.

We watched the pastures for holes that would break an animal’s leg. My son Joseph and I went to the barn for our evening check when Joseph alerted me to the largest armadillo I had ever seen.

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I took my walking staff and yelled “Hah, Hah, Hah,” and flailed at the ground. The purpose was to keep the creature from dodging underneath the tack room. Confused, the armadillo came at me instead.

My reaction to this bold tactic was to increase the volume and frequency of my ‘hah’s,’ and backpedal and flail faster and harder until the staff broke. The creature, wary of any human whose only response to a frontal armadillo assault was a stick and a single syllable exclamation, ambled into a horse stall used for storage.

Slamming the stall door shut, I sent Joseph to the house for a weapon.

I took stock of the contents of the stall and saw that it contained pallets, some feed bags, a wheelbarrow half full of manure and a shovel. The realization came to me that I would have to face the creature – man to armadillo.

Joseph returned with a choice of weapons, a 410-gauge shotgun and a .22 rifle. Plans ran through my head including turning the animal out and trying to shoot him as he departed. I looked at his armor and decided that an armadillo under full sail was no match for a .410.

My shooting abilities had declined from disuse, and the odds of me pegging him with the .22 as he torpedoed his way into the darkness not only endangered him from a poorly placed shot, but all the other animals and humans in the vicinity as well. My best bet was to dispatch him with the .22 at close range.

I stepped into the stall and told Joseph to shut the door. The latch made a sound like the doors of Alcatraz. The creature made his way into the pallets against the far wall. Closer examination showed that he was vertical, standing sandwiched between two pallets. Through the slats in the pallets I could see his head and his ears.

I took the rifle and slowly pushed it into the pallets stopping an inch or so away from the armadillo’s head centered between his ears. I said a quick prayer for a clean kill and thanking God for this creature, I squeezed the trigger.

If anyone has ever shot an armadillo at close range in an enclosed space what followed is probably no surprise. This was, so to speak, my first rodeo. I have harvested pigs and chickens – shot, wrung and decapitated – but a chicken flopping about is mundane when compared to what happened in the long moments after I pulled the trigger.

The animal released himself from the confines of the pallets in something akin to a shuttle launch. The thing stared at me as he fell to the floor of the stall and ricocheted into the solid wall to one side.

The armadillo made a pass toward me and I retreated to the opposite corner.

The corpse was not behaving to what should be a universal standard.

The deceased continued to try and make its way to me and despite the obstacles we lapped the 10 by 10 foot stall. I did not keep a count of the laps.

I dodged the creature replying that indeed the animal was dead but the armadillo was so busy it hadn’t the time to acknowledge the fact.

The creature zeroed in on my location and came closer and closer. In desperation, I used the wheelbarrow like a lion tamer uses a chair and after the barrow was emptied, it worked well.

This seemed to exasperate the animal as it slowed then finally stopped all movement.

Joseph peeked in and seeing that there was no longer a threat opened my cage.

I felt impelled to give a short lecture about how dads sometimes get excited when faced with a fast moving cadaver. We finished our checks and put the poor creature away. Joseph and I warily buried the corpse the next day and put this experience behind us.

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