Cleaning out pecan-hungry squirrels

Published 10:44 pm Saturday, November 17, 2012

It’s that time of year again. Betsy just declared, “You’ve GOT to go kill some of those dad-blamed squirrels before they eat up all my pecans!”

Normally, I can thin the bushytail population out on the Mammy Grudge ditchbank for a few days. However, this fall my old anemia seems to have returned full strength, and I was reminded that about 30 years ago, I not only had to give up squirrel shooting, but also duck hunting because of anemia.

Grandboys seem like the obvious solution, but neither are quite big enough to shoulder a rifle yet, so I’m still trying to find a good answer. Part of that answer might be the Super-Duper Pecan Picker-Upperer that we got for our joint birthday present. This wondrous outfit can be wheeled in and one circles the trees while it goes steadily “click, click, click,” as the nuts rapidly fill the attached basket.

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After running that Super-Duper Picker-Upperer for only a couple of hours one Saturday afternoon, my Bride had hopes of a storehouse full of nuts. So, it was decreed that the Man of the House must arrange for the rapid demise of an increasing number of squirrels.

Actually, this has been a ritual amongst Brownspur women since time began. Thirty-four years ago, when we had just moved our big old turn-of-the-other-century home 11 miles out to where it is now, my Aunt Rose still lived across the road from us. Uncle Sam had died a few years before, and his widow had ably assumed the squirrel-shooting duties. They had a little Winchester Model 73 .22 rifle and during the fall, Aunt Rose would take a screen out of her breakfast room window, so that she could raise the window and take a whack at any squirrel she spied in her trees.

One morning, son Adam, who lived in our upstairs at 9 years old, came rushing down the spiral staircase.

“Daddy! Somebody just shot through my front window, while I was lying on the window bed reading a book!” he exclaimed.

I went back upstairs with him, and sure enough, a brand new bullet hole adorned one of the panes, about 18 inches over where he’d been lying.

Sighting through the hole, I realized where it must have come from, and paid my elderly aunt a visit. She invited me to sit with a cup of coffee where she kept watch.

“Aunt Rose, did you just shoot at a squirrel out in the grove a little while ago?” I asked.

She nodded emphatically, “Those pesky squirrels!”

I declared, “Aunt Rose, you shot through my window; almost hit Adam!”

She blinked, but quickly replied, “Well, last year, there wasn’t even a house over there!”

Robert Hitt Neill is an outdoors writer. He lives in Leland, Miss. Email him at