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How local wildlife will push me to buy a rifle
How local wildlife will push me to buy a rifle

How local wildlife will push me to buy a rifle

Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, the most wildlife I ever encountered were squirrels, crows, and the neighbor’s sociopathic dog.

Going to college in Central Illinois, the most wildlife I ever encountered were squirrels, cardinals, and drunk college guys.

Living in Clinton, Iowa (with apologies to Iowans, the asscrack of the state) as a newlywed, the most wildlife I ever encountered were squirrels, a variety of farm animals (I was once lucky enough to see two piggies making a third piggie. Nothing like piggie pornography in the early morn), and our upstairs neighbors gettin’ it on in the middle of the night.

I think we may need to start watching the squirrels. They’re everywhere. I suspect they’re plotting to take over the world.

I live in suburbia, but not nearly as urban of a suburbia as my childhood. This is a more rural suburbia. It’s common to pass horseback riders as you drive to the library, or fields of cows as you drive to the store. We have prairie dogs (vermin…hate ’em) and rabbits. And coyotes.

Yes, coyotes.

There’s a pack that lives in our subdivision. We hear them every so often, almost always at night. A howl here, a squeak there. Once, several weeks after we moved in and we had our first snowfall, there were coyote tracks on our back porch. Never really bothered me.

Until now.

Yesterday a nine year old boy was attacked by a coyote, just a few blocks from where I live, in broad daylight. The animal obviously has rabies; coyotes stay in packs, come out at night, and avoid humans. This young boy got bit, has puncture wounds, and now has to undergo a long regimen of rabies shots. Merry Christmas, indeed.

So this afternoon I had to give the whole story to the boys without scaring them, while imparting how important it is that they not play outside by themselves until the Department of Wildlife finds and kills this coyote. J is small enough that he could be easily injured and dragged off by a rabid coyote. A is too, for that matter.

I do not like guns. I’ve never shot one, I do not own one or have any desire to own one, but if I see that rabid SOB in my backyard or the schoolyard, I’m going to wish I had one.


  1. I don’t think Hell-Mart sells them any more, but if you want a rifle, get yourself a little .22 gauge bottle plinker and then take yourself to a gravel pit with a box of 100 bullets and a trash bag of recyclables. Line up the bottles and cans and figure it out. Tuck the obvious end tight into your shoulder, look down the barrel and line up the far dot and the near dot (on the barrel) on whichever unfortunate soap bottle you have selected and then gently squeeze the trigger. Don’t punch it. Slow and easy does the trick. Always. A cheap little .22 should run you no more than $250, perhaps less, depending on sales and stock. Buy a lock for the trigger while you’re at it and keep the keys hidden from the boys and the bullets locked away from the gun. When they are old enough, you and their dad can teach them about weapon safety. Take a course with the local adult ed. The more you know, the less scary it all is.

    You need not be afraid of a gun, it is merely a tool, and rifles kill far fewer people each year than automobiles. For shooting vermin (including coyotes), a .22 is ideal. Anything bigger will be a hazard to your neighbors and yourself. Make sure you know what is through the woods in every direction before you fire a shot from your porch. A bullet will go through a lot and come to rest in unexpected places.

    The coy dogs are probably hanging around because you’ve got such a plentiful supply of squirrels. We have coyotes because out neighbors maintain a plentiful supply of feral cats.

    Keep the kids in until that poor sick creature is killed or run over.

    I grew up rural – we had guns all over the house. I also grew up with a crazy father who liked to drink. He shot his Ford pickup truck once. I learned some stuff the right way and some stuff the wrong way. I can say from experience that the right way is the way to go.

    I fired my first target rifle (a .22) when I was seven or eight and was pretty good. I also fired a shotgun before I was in high school, and an assault weapon while I was in college. Honestly, the shotgun was far more impressive to me. Bigger bang. I went deer hunting with my dad but never shot anything. Oh, and we used to target practice with both a .38 revolver (BIG kick) and a 9 mm with a clip. I liked that better, but still have no real use for handguns or people who like them. Owning a handgun seems to make people paranoid and edgy, two things I’d rather not have in an armed person. For protection of home and family, go for the long gun. Much more accurate anyway.

  2. We’ve got them here where I live in Austin, and they make me nervous, too. Poor kid. That is beyond sucky.

    But what I really hate are deer. Rats on stilts. Bambi is not cute when he/she causes wrecks at night on winding roads.

  3. There are coyotes in the Twin Cities too! Isn’t that insane! My parents have some – which the neighbors keep begging my dad (the great white hunter extraordinare) to take them out – but my dad is a big believer in permits & licenses and following all of the DNR rules (thank goodness). What he has been known to do is use a pelet gun – which will stun & scare but not really hurt or kill when things get out of hand – when the bunnies raid the beans, the deer raid the tomatoes and the squirrels clean out all of the bird feeders.

Whaddya think?

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