Why I Never Trust a Squirrel

Cartoon squirrel

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve built up a lot of bad squirrel karma over the last 40 years or so. In fact, if the Good Lord is a lover of limb rats, I’m going to need a lawyer with me at the Pearly Gates. On the other hand, if squirrels do go to heaven, I can claim credit for a lot of them getting there a little sooner than planned.

In my defense, however, I think more people ought to know that squirrels are evil little critters themselves, and I have a bunch of experiences to back up that statement.

Let’s start with the fact that they are unrepentant vandals.

In my last house, they were able to outsmart my ace Labrador retriever (not a difficult task) by running back and forth along the top of the fence. When Pete got too tired or bored to chase anymore, they would sneak across the yard, climb the chimney and gnaw their way into my attic. I only discovered this because they also chewed an escape route through the ceiling on the back porch.

In case you’re wondering, a squirrel infestation doesn’t improve your property values.

I have no idea what made my attic so appealing. For all I know they could have been running a meth lab up there, but they might just as easily have been plotting to murder me in my sleep. Based on what I’ve seen in the woods through the years, I’m certain it’s the latter.

Folks who hunt the varmints will back me up on this statement: Squirrels know when you’re hunting them vs. larger game.

Take a .22 and slip through the woods, and they disappear faster than my paycheck. Go deer hunting with a high-powered rifle, though, and you’ll be overrun with bushy tails, bouncing and barking in the branches above you.

But that’s not all they’re doing. They are also actively plotting your demise.

This is what squirrels look like when they're plotting your demise.

This is what squirrels look like when they’re plotting your demise.

I learned that years ago as I sat under a white oak tree hoping a big buck would wander by. The deer didn’t show up, but a battalion of squirrels came out and, for a little while, provided some high quality entertainment.

The first thing I saw was two chasing each other from tree to tree. One made a long leap to a thin branch with another in hot pursuit. That’s when I learned that squirrels may be great climbers, but even they miscalculate occasionally.

Squirrel Two jumped for the same limb as Squirrel One.  Squirrel One made it (barely), but when he landed, the thin branch dipped way down under his weight. By this time Squirrel Two was already airborne, expecting the limb to be where it was when he took off.

It wasn’t.

It takes years of training to become a flying squirrel.

It takes years of training to become a flying squirrel.

Squirrel Two went skydiving without a parachute for about 10 feet and hit the ground with a thud. To his credit, he scurried right back up the tree no worse for the wear.

While all this was going on, I didn’t notice that three more of their buddies were hard at work about 50 feet up in the tree above me.

At first it seemed innocent. An acorn dropped a few feet to the right of me. Nothing unusual. Then another fell on my left. Another hit on my right, this one a little closer. One dropped on my left, closer still.

When the next one hit me on the leg, I suddenly realized they weren’t being clumsy, they were actually dialing in their shots like an artillery barrage. I looked up just in time to see one dragging a limb as big as he was, fully intending to crack me over the head with it.

I started to shoot him on principle, but even back then .243 ammo was $12 a box and I figured it would be easier to just move.

To squirrels, this is both food and firepower.

To squirrels, this is both food and firepower.

Ever since that day though, I’ve approached squirrel hunting with an entirely different attitude. It might be a sport to some folks, but I figure it’s a matter of civil defense – stopping them before they develop heavier weapons and better aim.

Surely the Almighty makes allowances for that.

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