Squirrel Sanctuary

Growing up in Norfolk County, Virginia was not very eventful, but as I look back, I realize that it was a great place to grow up.

My father was a World War II Navy veteran, and he almost went down with the original Aircraft Carrier USS Yorktown CV-5 in the battle of Midway June 1942. After the war he and Mom bought his childhood home in Norfolk County, Virginia. They raised six kids in that house. I was the eldest.

Ole Dad remained in the Naval Reserves and worked as a civilian at the Naval Base in Norfolk, Virginia. He was not a hunter and he only owned one gun, a single shot, bolt action, 22 caliber rifle. His policy was to only shoot an animal for food or protection in the case of rats or snakes.

I was drafted into the US Army in December 1967 and taught to shoot and respect the M-14 rifle. I mastered that rifle and enjoyed shooting that hard-hitting rifle as I learned how to use the sights and calculate windage and elevation. My Drill Sergeant yelled “one bullet, one squirrel”, which meant don’t waste ammunition. He was a Kentuckian.

Growing up among men and soldiers who were hunters had no effect on me. I never wanted to hunt unless I was hungry or threatened.

Now I have a dilemma. We live in the mountains of Highland County, Virginia six months of each year. We are under attack. For some reason the squirrels are coming out of the woods, and they are eating our little red Wrangler Jeep. The first time they ate one of the fuel pump wires and the Jeep would not start. The second time they ate the wire to the gasoline gauge. The wire had to be replaced.

The third time they did the big one! They ate through the whole bundle of wires to the gasoline tank. The wires and the fuel pump had to be replaced. So far the squirrels have cost us $700 bucks, out-of-pocket cash.

The repair shop owner in town is staying busy fixing similar squirrel attacks, and he said, “This is the worst I have ever seen.” A fellow victim said his new Chevrolet Yukon was attacked by mice and had cost him over $800 bucks. According to his research, the animals are attracted to the wires because the wires are made with “SOY” which is a food product for humans and animals. Not many people know that Henry Ford introduced the first plastic automobile in 1941. It was made of SOY and other secret ingredients. It was 1000 pounds lighter than a similar steel automobile.

After consulting with quite a few of my “Hill Billy” neighbors who eat weeds in the summer and anything with a pulse in the winter, there are about 100 recipes for squirrel. I noticed that most of them began to drool when I mentioned “Squirrel Gravy.” One of them did make a keen observation that caused me to wonder about the balance of nature. After listening to my sad squirrel story, he said, “Well you must not have any coyotes, foxes or bob cats; they love squirrel.” I do have all of those, but the foxes prefer chickens and mice, while the other two like turkeys, deer, goats and sheep.

The dilemma continues because I don’t believe I can eat all of the squirrels found on the 5000 acres surrounding our house. I don’t want to shoot them just because they are hungry; I can’t find a trap (they are all in use). My original plan was to catch all the squirrels and haul them to the Jeep dealer in Staunton and set them free in a target-rich environment (hundreds of fresh Jeeps).

Perhaps I should just tear down our house and garage and put up a huge sign proclaiming: SQUIRREL SANCTUARY