In the previous summer hunting articles, wild hogs, coyotes, squirrels and upland birds were mentioned as worthy animals to hunt during the summer. However, most people forget about this little known varmint unless part of their crop disappears. Groundhogs are generally hated by farmers and ranchers, and hunting them is a good way to hone hunting skills. Plus, it may be a backhanded way to earn the trust of that farmer whose land is perfect for deer hunting. Groundhogs are notorious crop thieves and hole makers and an offer to hunt them may be welcome.
Ground hogs, whistle pigs, land beaver, rock chuck, prairie dogs, ground squirrel, pot gut, whatever you call them in your area, groundhogs (or one of their close relatives) reside in almost every state, so there are plenty of opportunities to go around. Many states have public land available to hunt, farmers and ranchers are usually grateful for the chance to get rid of a few and depending on your state, you can use almost any weapon. Just make sure to check your hunting guidelines.
Groundhogs are in the squirrel (rodentia) family, and as such they like to eat generally what a squirrel may eat including grasses, grain, fruits and nuts. Grasses such as wheat and rye; agricultural feed such as alfalfa, milo, clover and ‘hay’, and other crops such as soybeans are at risk for a groundhog infestation, so these are great places to hunt. Usually you can spot a bald patch in a neat field of alfalfa or soybeans and know you have a hole. Since groundhogs like hay fields, a rancher may be grateful to get rid of a possible horse or cow leg-breaking rodent hole, so ask around if you spot a good private ranch or farm that looks promising.
The best time to hunt ground hogs is during the coolest parts of the day. Groundhogs are diurnal, but like most rodents, they only have sweat glands in their feet. If it’s too hot, they tend to seek the cool shelter of their holes, so early morning, early evening, or an overcast day are the best times to catch them out and about in the heat of summer.
If you prefer a fully guided hunt, rather than finding your own way, there are a couple of places out there that cater to varmint and particularly groundhog hunting. First there is North Central Ohio Varmint Express located in Ohio. They offer full day hunts from May 1st to November 1st. You can find out more about them at www.ncovarmintexpress.com. Another fully guided option is Texas Varmint Hunts which offers prairie dog hunting in Texas and Wyoming during May, June and July for more information go to www.texasvarminthunting.com.
Remember, summer doesn’t have to be three months of boredom. It may take a little imagination, but there is always something out there to hunt.