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Let’s Go Hunting

After looking at the title of this piece, some of you probably think I’m a little mixed up right now; it’s fishing season, and hunting seasons are still a couple of months away. Basically, that’s true, but there is one critter that offers prime hunting opportunities throughout the summer months, and that’s the common groundhog or woodchuck. Take a drive down any road on any day, and you will likely see groundhogs either dead on the highway or heading for cover on the bank next to the road. Warm summer days offer great hunting opportunities, especially after periods of rain followed by sunshine — something that has occurred a lot lately.

As a kid growing up in western Pennsylvania, I remember hunting was somewhat limited since no one in the family did much hunting. My earliest hunting adventures in those early years centered around groundhog hunting; after all, it didn’t take much in the way of gear, and plenty of groundhogs roamed the nearby fields. Most of the time, we used a .22 rifle; it’s pretty much all we had, and ammunition was cheap. Not only did we enjoy the groundhog hunting on any given day, but there was also a chance that whoever got the most that day might also reap the benefits of a milkshake at Clearfield’s Millers Dairy.

I’ll admit that over the years, however, my groundhog hunting has tapered off considerably; in fact, I haven’t hunted them in a number of years now. Apparently, I’m not the only one who has gotten away from hunting groundhogs since I’m hearing from those who still hunt them that they seldom have any competition.

If you are an avid hunter and, for some strange reason, you have no interest in fishing, then hunting groundhogs may be a good way to enjoy some of those warm summer days.

Your choice of rifle for hunting groundhogs is probably similar to picking the best lure for bass fishing — there are several possibilities.

I suspect most average groundhog hunters put their favorite deer hunting rifle to work, but if you want to get into some serious long-range hog hunting, more specialized equipment might be your choice.

There’s no limit as to how many woodchucks you can take, and the season runs from July 1-June 30 except during regular firearms deer seasons. Still, it’s pretty much limited to a summertime activity.

Many farmers favor having groundhogs removed from their property since their holes can damage equipment, but make sure you have permission to hunt posted property. Also, be aware that you must wear a hat of solid fluorescent orange visible from 360 degrees.

Groundhog hunting also offers a great opportunity for getting young hunters out into hunting situations. Mentored hunters are permitted to hunt groundhogs, and it would be a great way to teach stalking skills, patience, and safe gun handling.

Since groundhogs have also become targets for coyotes, you may see more groundhogs at the edge of fields rather than way out in the open, where predators are more apt to take them.

Besides being fun and challenging to hunt, they may also be eaten. I have actually eaten groundhog in years past; don’t misunderstand, we don’t cook it every year for Thanksgiving Dinner, but I have eaten some by those who are into preparing it. What I ate was a barbecued version, and it was pretty tasty, actually a lot like barbecued pork.

Well, if you are longing for some hunting, some groundhog hunting might be a good choice, and it’s also a good time to get out there and start to do some scouting for those deer antlers that are starting to show up.