Am I Smarter Than A Wharf Rat?

Written By Galen White

By the power vested in me by our Creator, I do, hereby, openly declare war upon the sorry, dirty, rotten, low-down, scoundrel of a rat who has, to date, resisted my every effort of having him vacate the premises.

If I ever get my paws on him, he’s gonna regret ever provokin’ the wrath of ol’ Galen! I’ll tear him from limb to limb; I’ll pulverize him; I’ll break every bone…., ‘scuse me? What’s got my dander up? Well, I’m glad you asked. Maybe DIS-cussin’…, rather than cussin’…, will allow me to cool down and think clearly.

It all began with, what I thought was, a mouse at the lake cabin. My fiancé loves to feed the birds, and as a result, had a hun’derd pound sack of…, okay, okay. Maybe the sack wan’t but ten pounds. Regardless, this “mouse” chewed a hole in the sack and ate some of the seeds. That wouldn’t have been so bad; in fact, if that was all it was to it, then he might have been left alone.

But NOOOOoooo! This fool mouse knocked over several knick-knacks and made a mess with scattered bird seed all across the floor. Now, “guess who” had to clean the mess up. Forks, I don’t like cleanin’ up after myself, much less cleanin’ up someone else’s mess. That’s when the fight began.

Okay, dude, you wanna see who’s boss? Mouse poison would do the job rather quickly, I thought. So, I placed several bait boxes out and slept very well thinkin’ “no more mice”.

A couple weeks later and I was feelin’ rather smug ’cause I hadn’t seen any sign of mouse activity. Little did I know this was a conivin’ mouse, who muscled up enough gumption to show me just how tough a mouse could be. Walked into the cabin a few days later and he had once again strewn bird seed all across the floor. On top o’ that, he had knocked over a stack of music CD’s which, in turn, knocked over other stuff.

Now, some of you know me and are not surprised that I jokingly commented I hoped he had a good time listenin’ to Jimmy Buffet and the Beach Boys. I said it ’cause I’d made up my mind his days were numbered. He’d better go on and break into the wine and cheese, eat his fill, lay back in the sunshine and enjoy the good life ’cause he’d made it to the top of my black list.

To me, this called for stronger measures which came in the answer of wooden snap traps. You know the kind. Those that hurt like a sonofagun when you accidentally set it off and it catches your finger in it. The trap is designed to instantly kill a mouse when tripped, and I, from experience, can attest to how well it can kill a finger or two.

Little did I know that this here mouse had called for assistance. And assistance came in the size of a squirrel. No, it ain’t no squirrel…, at least, I don’t think so. No, I believe he called in one of his big cousins, a wharf rat.

******

Part 2

I very well remember when I was about four or five years of age, and my dad asked me to help him one night. We had corn stored in the crib of our barn, and wharf rats were gettin’ fat from eatin’ it all up. Dad had the .22 rifle loaded with rat shot, and told me to shine the flashlight around the eaves of the barn. Once I spotted a rat, dad would shoot him. I kid you not, folks; some were as big as fox squirrels.

Anyway and back to the varmint at the cabin, I strategically place four of these snap traps around the bird seed. My confidence was a an all-time high for I just knew this turkey was history. A week went by with no sign of Mr. Mouse, and the traps remained in place but untouched. However and a week later, all four traps were sprung, bird seed was scattered throughout a much larger area, things were knocked over, and ol’ Galen’s temper fuse was lit! If that mouse had shown his face at that particular moment, I woulda blown holes all in the walls and windows of the house with my 12 gauge shotgun in an attempt to put him out of my misery!

Okay, I thought, if he can call in his big cousin, then I have to up my game and bring in the heavy artillery. I purchased four “sho’ “nuff” big snap traps. Each one is about three inches wide by six inches long, and has a spring loaded bar that could, quite possibly, bread a finger if someone is careless enough to let it.

Once again, confidence was high; guess you could say I was even smug just thinkin’ ’bout seein’ that critter smashed half in two. And once again, this smart aleck, no good, low down, dirty, piece o’…… okay, okay. Y’all ‘scuse me a minute while I take a half bottle of Valium!

That’s right, the rat sprung three of the traps and left one untouched. What really gets my goat is one of the traps could not be approached without him touching it in a way that sometin’ of his shoulda been left there. I had hoped it was his lifeless body, but didn’t see so much as a rat hair. Of course, there was a couple three or four things he left—-musta scared it outta him when that trap snapped shut!

If it wasn’t for the scat. I’d have bet dollars to doughnuts this was a coon pullin’ these shenanigans. I’m not, however, convinced it ain’t a cross betwixt a raccoon and wharf rat. Don’t worry ’bout it, though. Just in case it is a cross, I have my .44 Magnum in hand when enterin’ the cabin.

Right now, this is an ongoing saga. Neither of us has given up, and I’m bound and determined to get him one way or another. If I win, you’ll be the first to know. If I lose…………….., well, I guess if I lose I won’t be around to tell you ’bout it.

You don’t really believe I would ever admit to bein’ beaten by a rat, do ya?

******

Part 3

Just in case you’ve missed the previous two articles, I’m right smack-dab in the middle of a war! The war is between me and a low down, no good, rotten stinkin’, sorry, good for nothin’….., 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10!

Whew! It really works, y’all! Countin’ to ten helps prevent blood pressure explosions! Every time I think about this varmint, I nearly blow a gasket. But deep down inside I know he’s gonna slip up, and when he does, I’m gonna be there. I know this ’cause now I know what I’m dealin’ with.

We went back to the cabin the other day to check and see if he’d  met his maker, and as I went to put the key in the door lock, I peered through the window and saw him. At first, I thought, “My gosh, what a rat! My great big snap traps had done what they was supposed to and he is dead meat!”

I had placed one of the large traps inside a five gallon bucket which also had some corn in it. To me, there was simply no way he could get to the corn without trippin’ the trap. And once he tripped the trap, his trip would be over!

Anyway and lookin’ through the window, I could easily see the bucket. At the top rim of the bucket was my varmint. If I coulda done a backwards somersault, I’d adone it! I was beyond Duck Commander Phil’s “happy, happy, happy”! I was exstactic…estetic…, I was overjoyed!

Somethin’ looked a bit outta whack, though. If he was caught, then he was caught by his tail ’cause his head and shoulders were on the top of the bucket’s rim. Just about that time, he moved. Low and behold, it weren’t no wharf rat. It weren’t no coon, either. It was a sorry, low down, flea bitten, rotten, stinkin’, good for nothin’……, squirrel.

Yes, sir. As he realized I was awatchin’ him through the window, he made a bee line to his escape route. I’m not sure exactly where he went, but now that I know what he is, I’ve upped the ante and am goin’ for a bigger trap.

Theresia and Anthony, good friends of ours, own a wire mesh squirrel trap…, one that would catch and hold a grizzly…, or better’n that, a shotgun trap. That’s one where a 12 gauge is rigged that when the varmint pulls on the ear of corn, it pulls a string which is tied to the shotgun’s trigger. KA-blooy! No more varmint. Of course, there might not be any more patio door or cabin wall, either.

Regardless, I’m gonna use the wire trap and see if I’m smarter’n a bushy tail. I readily admit that, so far, he’s gettin’ the better of me. The good thing…., if there is such, is it ain’t quite so bad to be out-foxed by a fox squirrel as it is a rat! I’ll let you know next week how well the trap worked.

******

Part 4

Here we are, folks, Part 4 of the war betwixt yours truly and that dirty, rotten, low down, worthless…., but quite intelligent…, squirrel! If you’ve kept up, I first thought the varmint wreckin’ havoc in our cabin at the lake was just a foolish mouse. However and due to his escapades, that foolish “mouse” grew into me believin’ it was a wharf rat, which grew into a ‘coon, which, finally and to my amazement, ended up bein’ a squirrel.

Now, I’ve done my share of squirrel huntin’ back when I was a youngster, and I know just how tasty they can be. What I didn’t know, is they have their own system of payback. Somehow or other at least one relative of a deceased squirrel (who fell to the deadly aim of yours truly) planned a scheme that, quite honestly, nearly drove ol’ Galen to insanity! Yes, sir, I was at my rope’s end when…

S’cuse me? What’s that? You say I was crazy way before the episode with this squirrel!? Okay, okay. Just to prevent an argument, let’s say he drove me crazier’n I already was!

Anyway and hopefully as you’ve read, this squirrel was makin’ one heckuva mess by chewin’ holes into bird seed bags and scatterin’ seeds all over the floor. Then after I set around the cabin knockin’ things over and breakin’ glass bowls and tea glasses.

Well, I’m happy to declare the war is over. No, I didn’t catch him in the bigger snap traps, but I caught him in the squirrel trap we borrowed from our friends, Theresia and Anthony.

This past Saturday I went to check on things, especially the trap, and low and behold, his hide was mine! Now, I had already gone through all the things I was gonna do to him in gettin’ my revenge. I was thinkin’ squirrel mulligan, fried squirrel, squirrel and dumplin’s…, but then it dawned on me it was just one measly lil’ ol’ squirrel.

I picked up the trap and its occupant and carried it outside, placing it on the tailgate of my pickup. Of course the squirrel was terrified and runnin’ from on end of the trap to the other trying to get out.

After watchin’ him for a minute or two, my softer side began to emerge. I knew he was scared and didn’t have any idea of what I was gonna do to him. In all honesty, that fact tickled me somewhat; I wanted him to be afraid.

Just about the time I thought his predicament and fright had gotten to him, he proved me wrong. Folks, that varmint began to cuss me to the point a fly wouldn’t light on me! Now, how do I know he was cussin’? If you’d been there to here him growlin’ like he was, you’d have understood his words just as clearly as I did.

My softer side retreated.

A few minutes later I decided he might be thirsty since he’d been cooped up for at least a couple of days. So, I poured some water into the bowl inside the trap, and after runnin’ around, over, and finally, through the water, he stopped and began to drink. Then he’d run some more; and then he’d drink; and then run some more; and then drink. It was obvious he was some kinda thirsty. However, my show of pity had absolutely no impact on his anger. He would still cuss me when I neared the cage.

Anyway, I made up my mind I was gonna let him go free…..but it sure as heck wan’t gonna be in that neighborhood. The cabin is west of Oil City, so I carried him 10 miles down the road, across the Caddo Lake bridge on Highway 1, and to within a mile or so of Blandhard. There, I opened the trap and set him free.

I figure he has several options available. He can settle down in a new area, find a mate, build a new home, raise young’uns, and forget the bird seeds in our cabin. Or, he can either swim Caddo Lake, or, risk crossin’ the bridge on extremely busy Highway One. Accomplish that and he can make his way back to the cabin.

Now, I’m not sure if squirrels read my articles, but in case they do, they are hereby warned the next one caught won’t get off so easily. I still know how tasty they can be when cooked properly!

*********************************************************************************************

Galen WhiteGalen White has written articles for several papers in North Louisiana and is now retired.

 

 

 

 

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