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I think I saw a new critter at my place....

Posted by scottokla (My Page) on
Mon, Oct 1, 12 at 22:46

I saw what I believe may be a groundhog (woodchuck) at my place over the weekend. It ran about 15 feet and down a big hole on the edge of my timbered area. Anyone else have recent encounters with them around here. My initial research says they are common all the way from the east coast to the extreme NE corner of Oklahoma. I am south of Tulsa so I am outside of that area. I will need to get a closer look at it to be sure, but from what I read that should not be too hard to do.

In the last 16 months I have had an encounter with what I think was a Nutrea, found a dead otter, and now maybe have seen a groundhog. Those are three animals that are new for me.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: I think I saw a new critter at my place....

Scott, We see a groundhog quite frequently. There is a spot north of Grove where the water comes almost to the road most of the time and there is a small bridge there. It has some brush and weeds growing on the banks of this gully, but the grass near the road is mowed. We frequently see him on that mowed area or darting into those weeds. I'm guessing he lives under that bridge somewhere. We have stopped and watched him several times and even passed him, then turned around, parked and watched him for awhile. It makes him a little nervous and he will usually walk into the weeds, but he is so accustom to cars passing that it doesn't seem to bother him unless the car stops. He is big.


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RE: I think I saw a new critter at my place....

I know we have them here in the Tahlequah area. Though, they are no where near as common here, as on the East Coast.

I just recently spotted one along the creek, in the back of our pasture, and am hoping he shows himself when I have a 22 on hand. They absolutely ADORE Sunchokes. Woodchucks will move right into the garden and make their den in the Sunchoke patch, wiping them out from underground.

My guess is that woodchucks are moving into the Tulsa area because they are so well suited to the suburbs. They absolutely thrive in a suburban setting.

Back in NJ, when we were there, the suburbanites battled them constantly. But most would not kill them. Instead they would live trap them and relocate. Unfortunately, there were not wide open places to relocate errant groundhogs. So, they simply drove them across town and dumped them near someone else's home (and garden). Soon there were "groundhog wars," people covertly dropping groundhogs off in each other's neighborhood; swapping, so to speak. Eventually the municipalities stepped in and made it a crime to transport and release wild animals!

We had a little over 4 acres, and our neighbors all had 2-10 acres. We were brimming with woodchucks. But I got permission from my neighbors to do trap them on their property. I'd wipe out all that had wandered onto my land, and then get all the young ones, each spring, which were entering my neighbors' places, looking for new territory. By doing this, my garden largely escaped damage. Though, I still had to trap and shoot a few.

Woodchucks can have up to three litters of 4-6, per year. So beware about letting them get established. They are very destructive.

George


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RE: I think I saw a new critter at my place....

Scott, I guess I am not surprised you've been seeing animals that are new to your specific location. In periods of extreme drought, animals often move into new areas looking for food. We have had beavers here some years, but never have seen otters or groundhogs. We do see some animals in drought years that we otherwise rarely, if ever, see roaming around.

Carol, I think groundhogs are cute and fun to watch, but only because I am not having to battle them for my garden. If they actually lived here in southern OK, I likely wouldn't be happy to see one. Tim grew up in Pennsylvania and when we would go there to visit his family, I was always astonished at the huge numbers of groundhogs lying dead on and alongside roadways and highways....kinda the same way that you see armadilloes alongside roadways in Texas in huge numbers.

George, I hope you can get rid of that groundhog quickly before he or she gets your sunchokes.

Down here where I live, we likely have enough predators that they would control the groundhogs, but that is just a guess on my part since we don't have groundhogs here. We have so many coyotes and bobcats that I don't think the groundhogs would have a chance in our rural area.

Dawn


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RE: I think I saw a new critter at my place....

I had one about 8 or 9 years ago that did a lot of damage to my garden before I was able to do a lot of damage to him. That was the first one I has seen in this area.


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RE: I think I saw a new critter at my place....

Dawn, I bet you're right on that. A groundhog would be a highly prized meal for most predators. I once had a dog which would kill four or five of them at a time, and he wasn't hungry.

George


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RE: I think I saw a new critter at my place....

This location is about 40 miles SW of Tulsa. I watched "him" from the brush today and indeed it is a groundhog. I like the name whistle pig (and so do my kids) so that is what I call it. I now recall two instances in the last few years where I saw an animal from a couple hundred yards away that I could not identify and this is likely what those were. They cannot be numerous here because I would have identified them before now.

We have high numbers of coyotes and bobcats also. In fact, just in the last two weeks I have twice had coyotes walk right past me while I was brush mowing on our large tractor near this groundhog den. One coyote actually followed me for a while and the other time two just came and went right past me ignoring me. I will let this groundhog live until spring at least and see what happens. Maybe the predators will get him. Unfortunately for him I will be burning the brushpile he lives under during the winter while he is hibernating.


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RE: I think I saw a new critter at my place....

I have groundhogs here and they don't bother me. My dogs would not let them in the garden. I think there is one in the pond bank. When I was a kid and lived at my parents farm we had groundhogs. They got a tomato or melon once in a while. I don't think we ever shot them. I would think if you have so few you would think they are interesting animals. When dogs chase them they sometimes go up a tree a short distance but they often come down too soon and get caught. If I grew melons I might not like them but they are welcome here.


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RE: I think I saw a new critter at my place....

My dogs have killed two this year, a very large and a much smaller one, and we saw one a couple miles from home the other day. I learned a couple years ago that under pressure a groundhog will climb a tree. I took a picture of a big one 15 ft up a hickory tree with the dogs baying at the base. A few hours later they had it dead in the yard, so it must not have been able to stay up long enough for the dogs to lose interest.


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RE: I think I saw a new critter at my place....

Young ones climb quite a bit. When I was a pre-teen, I once spotted five little ones climbing in some honeysuckle covered bushes. I had a burlap sack (remember those?) with me, and quickly plucked them from their perch, popping them into my sack. (I was daring back then.) I brought them home, thinking of making pets of them. But my father insisted that I let them go.

Adults can climb. They're just not so inclined. I've had them scale an 8' garden fence, to get to my garden.

Out East, they are so plentiful that I remember my church was looking to pay over $5K to repair the foundation under the educational wing. The groundhogs had undercut it with their tunnels.

Also, there was a creative entrepreneur, out that way, who developed a groundhog vacuum, mounted on a truck. He would stick a tube down the burrow and suck them out. I hear that one time, he got 17 from one burrow! Unfortunately, he would also drive them across town and release them. I suppose it was good for business.

Mr. Mauser, the fellow who taught me to hunt and trap, grew up before the depression (the one in the 30s). Back then, they were highly favored for eating. They are, after all, a ground squirrel. So, early on, I learned to catch and eat them. They were good. I don't know why, but in NJ, they smell bad when being cleaned. They taste wonderful when first cooked. And they are awful as left overs.

I caught a ground hog here in Tahlequah, and decided not to waste the meat. I cleaned him, and he didn't smell bad at all. He cooked up wonderfully. And, the leftovers were as good as first time around. Must be something to do with diet.

George


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RE: I think I saw a new critter at my place....

I think there are too many predators here for them to get that thickly populated. If a groundhog takes up residence in your garden, you have to do something about it. I have had trouble at different times with skunks, raccoons, opossums, rats, armadillos etc. I don't go after or try to trap animals unless they are causing me trouble. Most of them stay away from my yard with three barking dogs. Groundhogs are at the bottom of the list for troublemakers for me because they are cute fat waddling guys and bad climbers. They do split dog noses when the dogs try to get in their holes. If I were going to eat any of the above, I would think of ground hogs as being the cleanest.


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RE: I think I saw a new critter at my place....

I don't think I could bring myself to kill it, but the large holes could easily break something on my pecan equipment. I kill armadillos in my orchard for this reason. If I start to see multiple ones I might do something. For now I will just work around the known holes and be on the lookout for others.

This one is extremely large and fat, or so it seems to this uneducated eye. I have near pure stands of crimson, red, and white clovers from 2 to 5 acres in sizes and it made its home right on the edge of a crimson clover area, just near the edge of the floodplain. Each of the last 6 years we have had floods cover this area with 2-4 ft of water. For his/her sake I hope one doean't happen during hibernation.


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RE: I think I saw a new critter at my place....

Yesterday I hid behind a tree and waited for him to move away from his hole as he was feeding. I had about 35 yards to cross and when he got about 12-15 yards away I jumped out and started running. That fat little guy still beat me to the hole!! I am out of shape!!


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RE: I think I saw a new critter at my place....

Scott, I am picturing you hiding behind the tree and running at him and it makes me giggle. Usually, when I have unwanted wildlife here, I am either running from it, or slowly backing away though.

Of course he beat you! As far as he knew, he was running for his life, so he couldn't afford to lose that race/chase.

Dawn


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RE: I think I saw a new critter at my place....

What were you going to do if you caught him? They have sharp claws for digging and long rodent front teeth.


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RE: I think I saw a new critter at my place....

Back in NJ, at the church we frequented, I did the very thing as Scott. But I caught him by the tail and carried him into the church, I showed it to one of the pastors, saying "Look, fast food! But not fast enough!"

George


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RE: I think I saw a new critter at my place....

LOL!

I wanted to cut him off and make him climb the tree 10' from his hole to see how well they climb. I also wanted to get a close-up look at him. He is very cute and very fat!

At the end of the day I was driving past that area in my Mule (little farm vehicle) and floored it when I came around the corner of the brush. There was one about 30 yds away from where this one normally has been. It stared at me for a few moments and then ran under a huge brush-pile that is waiting to be burned. Either this is a second one that lives near the first one but near a different brushpile, or just the single one that has it's second tunnel entrance 30 yards away from the first hole.

The next time I am at the farm I will try to get a picture of the fat little guy.


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RE: I think I saw a new critter at my place....

maybe someday we will have to relocate our groundhogs, but for now we just enjoy them. one moved into an old hole in our backyard that i had left in case some animal wanted to live in it. she had two babies, and we watched them grow. we feed our table scraps to them. they ate our watermelons and canteloupe this year. some critter climbed up the peach tree and took all of the peaches. we named them all woody.


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RE: I think I saw a new critter at my place....

I caught a coon one time by the back of his neck, thinking he could not get me that way. I was wrong.


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RE: I think I saw a new critter at my place....

Yes, I carried a scar on my foot, for years, because of a similar mistake with a coon. When I was a teen I used to make money catching possum alive, and selling them to a buyer who wanted them for research. They're a lot easier.

I only succeeded with an adult groundhog once. Now, though I believe I might carry out the technique, I also might throw my back out by doing it.

George


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