Henry Culvyhouse: Henry C's Down Home Dispatch: The staring match

·2 min read

Jul. 10—HUNTINGTON — I was riding my bike from the grocery store the other day when I saw a cat staring down a groundhog.

I don't know which cat it was — I don't know if it was domestic or feral. We have a gang of them roaming the neighborhood, chasing the squirrels and eating out of the trash and occasionally spraying.

I do know it wasn't the leader, a mangy Maine Coon without a tail.

The cat was in one front yard, staring at the ground hog in another front yard. When the groundhog would move, the cat move — but never in the same direction.

They were scared of each other, I reckon.

That groundhog was a fat son of a gun; he probably weighed every bit of 6 pounds.

I should know — in my childhood, I was a professional groundhog hunter.

See, my mother has a green thumb, always raising up a vegetable garden with corn and zucchini and squash and pumpkins and tomatoes. and every year, she'd have to battle it out with the birds and groundhogs, who'd sneak into her garden and strip them.

She tried the scare crow method and that didn't work — now she has full netting over her garden.

But when I was a kid, I was the defense against the groundhogs and the black birds and the crows.

I, Henry Culvyhouse, armed with a Benjamin Sheridan Air Rifle my father bought on a lark back in the late '70s, would sit out in the yard after school awaiting the scavengers.

For every black bird, I got a dollar. Crows were $5, but groundhogs were $10.

Most of the time, I missed but every so often I made a bit of coin.

Every day I studied these critters and learned, no matter how portly a woodchuck got, they could always move at the first hint of danger. It got to the point where they'd bolt as soon as the screen door slammed.

So I adapted and went out the front door, with some burlap I'd found in the basement to cover myself like a sniper.

Even then, as soon as they spotted this mound in the yard, they'd scatter.

Every groundhog I killed was pretty much a lucky shot — I wasn't much of a rifleman.

Like my neighborhood now, where I grew up we had tons of wild cats too prowling the area. and I've never seen a-one eating on a groundhog.

Maybe those cats were scared like that cat, or maybe the groundhogs are just too fast.

(606) 326-2653 — henry@dailyindependent.com