Take on gopher population with the big guns

Well, its gopher trapping time again, out here in the country, where the little buggers, bored and full of energy after sleeping all winter, are building dirt mounds steep enough to tip over a tank.

Well, its gopher trapping time again, out here in the country, where the little buggers, bored and full of energy after sleeping all winter, are building dirt mounds steep enough to tip over a tank.

One breeding pair of gophers can produce up to 88 more in one summer. Theyre a simple little animal. They cant see. They cant run. Dont fly. Dont vote. Cant tie their own shoelaces. Probably have an IQ comparable to a stick.

Then why cant I catch them? It should be an embarrassingly lopsided contest, me with a couple of college degrees against a blind rodent. But it isnt. Oh sure. They stick their sick and lame in my traps on a rare occasion so that I dont escalate and use the nuclear option, but thats about it. According to my math, theyre gaining on me 80 at a time.

This war with gophers goes back to the first 10 apple trees that I planted. Word spread underground, and they came by the busloads. Some of them came up from China through a tunnel exchange program, just so they could get in on the fun. The day after the trees were planted, theyd poke their heads up every few minutes, spit out a fresh mouthful of tunnel dirt onto my lawn, and go back down for more.

One day, when no one else here was home, I declared war. Usually, if anyone else is around, I dont let the real me out, the gopher-hating, tunnel-invading, rodent-war-mongering madman. No one was home. For this first action, I needed guns, lots of guns. Shotguns. Rifles. Pistols. I had twenty rounds for the .22; 11 rounds for the .410; and three shells for the pump shotgun. I grabbed them all.


Hitting them with the .22 was impossible. A little bullet like that, even a faint breath of wind probably blows it off course. Maybe the barrel was crooked. Those rounds were gone pretty quickly. It was like a carnival, little heads popping up here and there, popping back down, over here, over there, behind me.

I loaded the .410. It also seemed to have a crooked barrel.

I tried different tactics. Pretended to be picking apples, but instead whirleingand firing at retracting heads. There were so many of them. All the whirling about made me dizzy.

Then I pretended to be going back to the housethe old Im giving up strategy, and then firing over my shoulder. I got the rear tire on the riding mower. Finally, I was down to the three shells for the 12-gauge. I laid down on the ground, lined up three little pop-up heads in a row, and fired. Fired again. One more.

An examination of the battle field revealed no gopher corpses. They must take away their dead. My side had two casualties: the riding mower tire, and one apple tree, sliced off with the shotgun.

I put away those deadly tools of destruction, and went and got a can of gasoline and a can of diesel fuel. Oh, and a lighter. Heres how this works. First, you dig open the end hole in a line of holes. Then you dig open the far hole. Into one hole, you pour a slug of gasoline. Into the other, you pour diesel fuel. Once the diesel fuel is lit, the draft pulls gasoline fumes into the tunnel, through the enemys living room, along with enough air to provide a combustible amount of oxygen. When the two meet, theres a most satisfying WHUUUMMMPPPP!!!!

I lit off three of these, and went in to lunch. Before I even had the grilled cheese sandwich done on both sides, their troops were digging again, in the very holes which I had just burned.

I raced outside with more gasoline and diesel fuel and opened up at least two dozen tunnels, and this time poured in enough gasoline and diesel fuel to set the entire township on fire. I raced around with the lighter, but in the smoke and flames, I became confused and as I was crossing one tunnel opening, it exploded and set my pants on fire. I spilled the last of the gasoline as I was beating on my legs. It caught fire. That scorched my hair and took off the eyebrow on one side of my face. Two more secondary tunnel explosions went off.


About then, the mailman came up the driveway, which he does when he has a large package. He turned the bend at the top of the driveway and looked around. He saw guns laying all over the lawn, and me dancing around trying to put out my pants. I saw him and tried to suddenly act normal. Around me, it looked like someone had invaded the Iraqi oil fields and set them on fire. There were dozens of oil well smoke plumes rising thickly in the air.

Hi there, I said to him. Another explosion went off behind me. He flinched.

Package, he said. He threw it out the window and reversed all the way back down the driveway.

Everything is cleaned up again. Except for the fresh mounds of dirt that come every day, things look normal.

When no one is looking, I practice whirling and shooting.

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