The Mole Hunter

By Scott Anthony

Saturday 3:15 pm, I was on assignment from the boss. “Honey..there’s another mole hill in the yard,” she said, and my partner Zeke and I went to work. I put on my hunting clothes and battle helmet and Zeke grabbed a quick couple of laps from his bowl on the floor of the laundry room.

I instructed Zeke to stay low and cover my left flank and then I moved in. Stepping over the railroad tie-landscaped border, I spied the first evidence. It was a B&E..breaking and exiting.

The nasty brown pile of dirt marred the otherwise perfectly manicured lawn. I felt a welling of anger in my gut, but steeled myself as my partner creeped up from the other side of the lawn. We hunkered together behind a purple rhody and reconnoitered. “Ok pal,” I muttered, “We’re going to have to do this the hard way.” Zeke looked up at me and panted. “Shhhhh!” I said, “Don’t you know these varmints can hear a grub from seventy feet!?” He dropped his eyes and skulked away. The horrible mole hill was ten feet high if it was a foot, casting an awful shadow on my box hedge in the afternoon sun. I slinked over to the cedar trees where I keep my assortment of mole traps and picked out the least rusty one. Just as I was moving into position, I remembered a news story.

“Initiative 713 was passed today by an overwhelming margin of voters banning the use of body or leg-gripping traps. The measure, aimed at the trapping industry, has spilled over into the arena of varmint traps. As the law stands, it is still legal to sell mole traps, but it is illegal to use them, leaving countless homeowners with no light at the end of the...tunnel, as it were.” The story reverberated dumbly in my helmeted head, though the joke at the end was mine.

I slumped onto the concrete garden seat between the trees and cogitated. The law as it stands would not allow me to catch one of the lawn ripping demons with a ‘jaws-style’ trap, but if caught alive, (with one of those expensive but wholly ineffective, PETA approved no-kill traps) I could then legally hit the mole on the head with a hammer. I’m no rocket scientist, but my wife, who works in some secret department for Boeing, might be.. so I asked her.

“Ewwww..” she said, “ You mean those traps have..claws?” I could see she was on the side of the mole. She didn’t have to maintain the lawn in the way to which it was accustomed. I asked my partner. “Zeke..what should I do?” He eyed me from under the bent willow. “I love animals,” I said, “but these little creeps do more than just mess up the lawn, they’re digging up the azaleas and mums, and my sunflowers will never be the same, just look at the leaves..they’re frowning!”

Zeke ignored me and gnawed on a stick. “It’s not like I haven’t tried the other stuff!” There was the mint leaves and chewing gum, which I suspect only left them with better breath. I tried pouring cups of dog pee in the holes, but found that getting the dogs to pee into cups was too tough. I put egg yolks, mustard, cat hair, horseradish, garlic and even Crisco in the holes, but I only succeeded in creating a really awful dirt marinara. I even tried backing my car up and plugging the exhaust hose down there, but got stuck on a muddy slope and abandoned the plan.

The only time I ever succeeded in ridding my yard of the soil cretins was when I used the standard body gripping, spring loaded scissor trap. “Look Zeke,” I whined, “ You know I’m a softy for cuddly little things like puppies and kitties, but I’m sworn to protect this land.”

I stood up and grabbed the trap and my special ‘mole finder’ shovel, an old clam shovel that I modifed with a poker attachment on the handle to find the tunnels better.

3:30 pm- Zeke and I surrounded the position of our quarry and while Zeke sniffed at the bad guys hideout, I set the trap with the little spreader tools. The jaws opened menacingly and I locked the tab in place, then set the trap to one side. Zeke had pawed some of the dirt aside, locating our entry point and I got to work with the poker attachment.

In a moment I had found the entry and exit points where the dastardly beasts had cruised through, likely at high speed, in search of defenseless nematodes and grubs. I deftly placed the trap with my gloved hand, positioning it so that the next time Mr. Digstoomuch comes by it will be his last time. I did my usual ‘mole dance’ over the hole, (a sort of combination Hutu dance and disco move designed to frighten and confuse the enemy) then sprinkled in some dirt and covered it with a bucket. Zeke nudged the bucket a little, not satisfied with my placement of it, both of us tiptoeing back to the ‘mole blind’ between the cedars and the willow.

We had stayed vigilant for nearly 8 minutes when the boss called out to us. “We have to get ready to go out to dinner, ZEKE.. come in now.. and I hope you two aren’t hurting any little animals out there.” Shoot... she was on to us. I grabbed Zeke by the collar before he could leave. “Make like you don’t know anything about this,” I hissed, “ She’ll thank us next spring when she wants to have her lawn croquet parties!” Zeke leered at me until I let him go, sprinting through the kinnick-kinnick. I turned back for one last look at the field of battle. I could tell this was going to be a long, tough war.

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