The story of this day is told over again, and again and again . . .
By Deric Beroshok
I got a call from a very elderly lady about a groundhog under her house. I arrived and did my usual explaining of the process of setting traps, checking traps and the price of the job.
After the initial introduction, I told her that she was welcome to watch or she could go back in the house. She went back in her house.
I went to the truck to get my equipment. For some unknown reason still to this day, I grabbed a foothold trap instead of a #220 body-grip trap. I guess I wanted to experiment with something different. The hole was right in front of her house under her picture window. I could see the elderly lady sitting in her chair directly in front of the window looking out. She was staring at me very intently. I paid no attention to her.
I got my equipment and went to the house. I had to squeeze between two thorn bushes to get to the hole. It was mid summer and over 90 degrees outside with 100 percent humidity. I was sweating profusely and I was wearing a short-sleeve shirt. The thorn bushes stuck me in my shoulders, and the sides of the arms. It was miserable. By now my arms and shoulders are bleeding a little from the numerous pricks from the thorns but I pushed on. I got in front of the hole and rested for a moment and caught my breath. I set the trap and laid it on the ground directly in front of the hole. I did not stake it down yet. I was just measuring things.
I caught a glimpse of movement out of the corner of my eye. I looked to my left and saw the ground hog coming at me along the side of the house. All this seemed to be happening in slow motion. The groundhog ran right up to me and I pulled my hands back real fast. The groundhog stepped right on the trap, snapping it on his front leg. He darted down the hole with my trap in tow. I’m thinking, “Hey, that’s a $14 trap and you’re not taking it down that hole!” I immediately grabbed him by his hind foot with one hand and grabbed him by the tail with the other hand. I was able to stop him but he was not happy about it. The groundhog then started grunting and digging wildly with his front feet. He was throwing dirt out of the hole lightning fast and it was hitting me directly in the face. I was sweating and the dirt was sticking to my face and I could hardly see. I had both hands full so I tried to wipe my face with my shoulder but they were both stuck in the thorn bushes.
I was pulling as hard as I could to drag him out of the hole and he was bound and determined to go down his hole with my trap. I yanked real hard and was finally able to drag him out of the hole. When I did this, I fell back on my back side ripping my shirt on both shoulders from the thorns. Now I have a live, angry groundhog almost in my lap while I am sitting down in the bushes. This is not good I’m thinking. He is very agitated and snapping his teeth and trying to kick.
Somehow I was able to get out of the bushes and into the front yard.
Now mind you, I have only been there a short time talking to this lady and then she went inside. I was probably there about 10 minutes maximum.
Now I have this live groundhog by the tail in her front yard. She is looking out the front picture window in complete disbelief. She stands up to get a better view. The groundhog is starting to curl right up and getting ready to bite me. I start swinging him around in a circle using centrifugal force to keep him away from me. I don’t have anything else in my hands but the groundhog. I continue to swing him in a circle while I am trying to make my way back to my truck.
When I get to the bed of my truck, I reach in a grab a trap stake. Now I am swinging this live, angry groundhog in circles in this lady’s front yard and trying to hit him in the head with the stake. I am missing and only hitting him about every fourth swing. I was finally able to connect with a good blow to stun him. I laid him on the ground and hit him again in the head with the stake. I was finally able to dispatch the beast.
I am so exhausted I just drop to my knees. I am soaking wet with sweat and I got blood splatter on me from the groundhog and blood on both arms and shoulders.
I look up and the elderly lady is now standing on the front porch with her chin to the ground dumbfounded. I heard her say, “ Sonny, are you ok? “ I can only imagine what she is thinking. She is probably thinking what kind of idiot did I just hire? Did he just reach down that hole and grab the groundhog?
I answered back, “ Yes ma’am, I’m fine. Sorry. It was not supposed to go that way.” She just gave me a blank stare and went back inside without saying a word.
I’m thinking great, I’m not getting paid by this lady and will never get a call back.
I gathered my equipment when I caught my breath and got out of there. Yes, I did send her an invoice and she paid me.
She has since passed on and her daughter lives in that house now and she is a repeat customer of mine. We still laugh at that moment because the daughter said her mother told her about that day and to listen to the daughter retell the story is hilarious.
You never know what will happened in animal control work!