Some of you may remember our squirrel situation this summer. For those who don’t recall, allow me to refresh your memories.
One Saturday morning in early June, I matched wits with a squirrel who was boldly raiding our bird feeder. Swinging a pooper-scooper overhead like a battle axe whilst uttering angry words, I chased away the seed thief multiple times. In addition to the squirrel, we also encountered a large rabbit lounging casually and unconcerned in the center of our strawberry patch. Faced with such worthy adversaries, Dave took it upon himself to step up his game. He went to the store for coffee and returned packing heat, a small BB gun. Weapon in hand, he eagerly hatched a defense plan for the backyard.
A few days later, returning from work in the community garden, I found Dave, back turned to me, BB gun raised and pointed. A second later he dropped aim and instead of shooting, he shooed at something.
“Stupid bunny,” I heard him say, “just get out of here!”
Two feet away from Dave, totally unfazed by his presence, was a tiny brown bunny with dark round eyes and a wiggly nose. It could have fit in the palm of my hand.
Dave looked up. “I came out here to shoot this bunny, to defend your garden boxes, but look at him!”
The bunny took a tiny hop and struggled with a clover leaf.
“I mean, he’s so small that he needs several bites to eat that itty bitty leaf. I’m just gonna fire a couple warning shots to scare him away.”
My husband is an animal lover through and through, so the warning shot idea came as no surprise. He fired once. No change. Fired again. The bunny kept chewing, peering up calmly at his towering audience.
“Nothing! He didn’t move one bit!” I exclaimed.
“Bud, are you serious? I’m, like, four feet away from you! You ought to be worried here. You really SHOULD be scared of these things, you know.” He wave the gun ominously and took a step forward. The bunny finally moved a bit, relocating behind the garden boxes near the side fence.
Worried that the bunny might accidentally be struck by a warning shot now that the distance between the two parties had increased, I intervened on his behalf.
“Wait a second! Let me try something first!”
I picked up a light plastic bouncy ball and lobbed it rabbit-ward in an attempt to startle him. The plan certainly worked, but not exactly as planned.
“You hit him!” Dave yelped as the intruding bunny bolted away at an astounding speed. “You winged that ball and knocked the poor defenseless little bunny square on the head! Unbelievable! And you were worried about me shooting a BB at him. Wow! That would be like a giant throwing a bouncy ball the size of a bus at you! I CANNOT believe you did that!”
Suffice it to say, we never laid eyes on that terrified little guy again. As Dave put it, “We’ll never see hide nor hare of him again. Get it? HARE?” Bad pun aside, Dave’s prediction came true. The beets and lettuce leaves were untouched by rabbit teeth all throughout the summer months.
The squirrel must have gotten the message as well; he also vanished. Of course, the black walnut tree in the yard next door started dropping its hard green globes right around the same time, so our bushy-tailed friend may simply have been lured away by a different kind of bountiful feast. Whatever the case, for several weeks the feeder hung undisturbed and birds flocked around it, dining in relative peace.
All thoughts of squirrels were gone from my mind the day Dave barreled through the house at the speed of a sprinter. “He’s back!” he exclaimed, gathering his gun and bumbling about in search of the misplaced box of BBs. Before I knew what was happening, Dave stood in the back yard. He raised the BB gun and fired two shots. With surprising accuracy, he popped the scrambling squirrel right in its retreating rear end. The invader screeched and scolded angrily, racing rapidly along the tall picket fence before scaling the neighbor’s garage roof and taking refuge in the tall walnut tree. High above us, he continued to fuss and carry on as Dave gloated.
“Take THAT, squirrel!” he pounded his chest.
I stared at him, mouth hanging open in shock, memory of the failed bunny attack flashing through my mind. He turned to me.
“What? What!?! That was the plan. You knew the plan. And it worked. It worked PERFECTLY!” He chuckled a devious laugh.
“I knew the plan,” I managed to choke, “but I didn’t think you were actually going to be able to HIT him! You got him on the first shot. Incredible. You hit a running squirrel in the butt on the first shot.” I was stunned.
“You underestimate my video gaming skills. Duck Hunt? That wasn’t for nothing, you know. Valuable life skill.”
It’s winter now. The squirrel apparently learned his lesson. Either that, or he made admirable advances in the stealth department. Either way is just fine with me. Squirrel, if you’re willing to raid the bird feeder after such a painful ordeal, I admire your tenacity. Just don’t let Dave see you.
(Originally posted on my old blog, Interim Arts, on December 31, 2013)