Critter control

Disclaimer: This should be a mature discussion on the use of lethal means of dealing with larger animals that are predating our fruit. Some may find this topic distasteful or offensive. You are warned, hopefully we will be mature in our discussion also. Thanks.

My fruit and garden spot is on a 6 acre lot in a suburban neighborhood. In recent years more and more city folk have built expensive houses to replace farmland and pasture. Deer, rabbit ,skunk, squirrel, etc. were never informed that this became a ‘big lot’ city. Coyotes, fox, dogs and cats all help but times sometimes call for stouter measures. What are yours? Here are some of mine.

When shooting, we will mostly use an old 22 with subsonic ammo to suppress that supersonic crack. We have checked and 100 ft. is about all you can hear the report. We have managed to eliminate all the squirrels we see and most of the rabbits. Deer still run in herds of 15-20.

Here’s the bucket method.

I have been starting fruit and nut trees indoors under lights in the winter using root pruning containers. I transplant them to larger containers and move them to my deck after the last threat of frost has passed. I have had an issue with squirrels digging up my trees looking for nuts even though the nuts are removed before putting them outdoors.

Rat poison is an option, but it can be a bit indiscriminate. I mix it with peanut butter and put it in the middle of a 2" or 3" PVC tube and screw it into a tree. This keeps it out of the reach of most animals but not squirrels.

A second method I’ve been using successfully is what I call forced conversion. I little chunky peanut butter in a small live trap starts the process. The next step is baptism (emersion not sprinkling). The only downside to this is that it requires daily checking of the trap in order to be humane. The baptism (length of rope attached to the trap handle) is very quick. Squirrels don’t have the lung capacity of a human and they quickly expire.

I’m in a suburb where firearms are not an option, but we have enough wildlife that recycling is quite quick. The residual is left in the weeds near a creek at the bottom of my yard. They rarely last more than a day and they attract birds of prey which are enjoyable to watch.

I started experimenting with the forced conversion method about 15 years ago before I started working with trees. The sheathing on my roof had warped and left an opening that squirrels decided to use. We had them living in the bedroom wall that winter. We were having the house reroofed but I did not want to do that until I was sure the squirrels were gone. Poison was not a good option because they generally go back to a safe place like a nest to expire and I did not want decomposing carcasses in my wall. That summer we held 13 different baptism services before the scratching in the wall ceased. It was just in time for reroofing before winter.

As for deer, if you are in an area where you can fence, check into a Gallagher-style electric fence. I’ve used this type of fence on soybeans at my farm and found it very cost effective.

An even better option for deer, even in the suburbs is archery hunting. I was one of the founders of an organization that connected highly experienced bowhunters with homeowners that were experiencing deer damage in northern Virginia (DC Metro). This not only helps with plant damage, but deals with issues like deer/car collisions.

squirrels are territorial, so you can get rid of the squirrels that come to your yard and not have to worry about the ones down the block. Although, if not challenged squirrels will slowly expand their territory, so you have to stay on the ball. You have to get ahead of the problem, you can’t start when they are raiding your trees, or you’ll have too much damage by the time you get the job done.

It is said a released squirrel can find it’s way back if less then 10 miles. But a river in between will stop them.

An old timer told me, during the depression.
They nailed large rat traps to tree trunks.
Walked the route with a bucket collecting the squirrels and re baiting.
This was for meat.
I always feel so small and useless compared to that generation.

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they sure didnt wast anything back then. My grandpa had a dog that would tree possums. They would catch them live and put them in a pen. People would come by on sunday after church and buy them for a dime for sunday dinner.

I think we Baptists’ will take credit for the dunkin

I found the Catholic method to be much less effective. :smile: