Friday, August 13, 2010

The Hunt, Part 2: The Trap

I previously vowed to capture an image of the elusive White Squirrel at any costs. Little Moby seemed somehow to have sensed this, and his appearances became more rare in the days following my utterance bloggerance.

On the occasions when he would show up, he seemed jittery, even for a squirrel, and more wary of his surroundings. However, even as he became more careful, he seemed to extend his range. And a couple of times I found him foraging for nuts and grubs in my own front yard.
Thus, I added a tactic to my arsenal. If I could find a way to confine him, it would be an easier thing to photograph him. So I stopped by my local outfitter's store to procure a steel trap that would do the trick.

It was of a rectangular steel cage design, a trap door at either end triggered by tip plate in the center.
I masterfully baited the trap with wheat bran cereal held in place with a mortar of peanut butter. I placed it behind some shrubbery in our front yard and waited.

In the morning, a few days later, I received an excited message from my first mate. She said I need to go and check the trap.

It had been sprung.
Finally, I thought, putting on shirt as I made my way to the front yard... finally I'll have my chance. At long last I'll shoot a picture of the white squirrel and prove to the world (well, my immediate acquaintances anyway) that it exists.
When I Arrived in the front yard and inspected the sprung trap, I was surprised and disappointed. It did contain a varmint, and the beast was white(ish).

But rather than the White Squirrel, I found myself face to snout with a ghastly, coarse-haired, rat-tailed opossum.

It hissed at me as I lifted the trap from behind the bushes. I placed it on the gravel driveway to photograph it. I felt compelled to document the catch, even though this was not he quarry I was after.

I was simultaneously disgusted by and sorry for the pathetic marsupial. It was obviously well-fed and healthy. It was so large, in fact, that I wondered how it fit into the trap in the first place. But it was obviously frightened and confused, stuck so tight that it could scarcely turn it's head from side to side, let alone turn around in the steel cage.

It stared at me with black, beady eyes, like a cold cup of coffee, as I determined what was to be done with it. Finally, I decided to take it to the woods around a creek in a nearby park to set it free.

Laying a plastic trash bag down tin the back of our SUV, and placing the trap with opossum therein on top of the plastic, I drove to Roe Park. But as I drew close, I saw the park was crawling with suburbanites. The parking lot was full and the baseball and soccer fields were packed with people. Obviously, this was not a good place to release such a solitary specimen.

So I continued on. Presently I came to an area of new road construction, a bridge across a creek that was as yet lightly traveled. I put the steel cage near a stand of tall grass and opened the trap door to release the prisoner.

It wandered out into the grass and out of site. I put the trap back into the car, got into the driver's seat and prepared to return home. But as I turned the ignition switch, I looked up and saw the opossum trumbling along the road's curb.

Rather than make it's way toward the relative safety of the nearby creek, it had wandered back to the street. I snapped a few more pictures, then left as the opossum continued on toward the bridge and almost certain death under the wheel of the next passing car.

Opossoms aren't that bright.

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  1. I stay away form live traps because the first year I lived in the country I tried to use one to catch a possum. Instead, I caught a skunk.

    You can get rid of a possum easily enough, but what does one do with a live and very angry skunk in a cage from which he can see you?

    I shot the bastard with a .22 hornet, waited a day for the smell to somewhat dissipate, then dumped his carcass behind the dam.

    Then I bought a long-haired, smelly-assed dog to run around and stink the place up. Haven't seen a skunk around in 10 years.

  2. did you run around exclaiming words like "ckrickey" with an Australian accent? that would've been appropriate.

  3. I caught a squirrel in a trap like that a few years ago. Let me tell you something, they TOTALLY FREAK when they are caught and they have a weird sort of flop sweat and it really stinks.

  4. I mentioned before: You have to go to Marionville, MO. They are everywhere!


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