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Old November 2, 2015   #1
b54red
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Default squirrels are back

Throughout the fall I have noticed I am getting a lot of tomatoes chewed on and figured it was squirrels since I have seen a lot of them the past couple of months. Turns out it is worse than I thought. A few weeks ago my cable went out and they finally found the problem was my main line from the street was chewed up by squirrels. This past weekend I had all my new fall plants placed on a table in the middle of the yard to harden off for setting out this week. Went out yesterday morning and noticed two large squirrels up on the table. When I checked they had eaten all but a couple of the plants down to the soil line. I won't be having much of a fall garden since I have lost almost all my broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage plants.

I guess it is time to limber up the old pellet rifle and see if I can start thinning them out so I can at least have some spring plants. It has been several years since I thinned the population here and I think I waited too long. I should have started seriously thinning them out in the summer when I noticed so many of them around but they weren't really causing any major problems then. Another lesson learned the hard way I guess.

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Old November 2, 2015   #2
Worth1
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I may have to do the same thing here.
My neighbor ladies son put out a deer feeder in the back yard so it would automatically feed the deer and squirrels.
I am now looking out my back door and it looks like a squirrel freeway in my trees.
One day there were 10 squirrels under my truck laying in the shade.
I will eat every one I shoot.

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Old November 2, 2015   #3
AlittleSalt
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lots of squirrils here too with big fuzzy tails. its supposed to mean a long cold winter
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Old November 2, 2015   #4
Worth1
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I guess if the neighbor lady sees me walking around with a fur jacket with big fuzzy tails all over it she will know what happened to the squirrels.

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Old November 2, 2015   #5
mcool61
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love her tails
I have similar problems. I'll be shopping for a new pellet gun this winter too. It has been a while since I've skinned a squirrel. I read somewhere that you can kill 80% of a squirrel population & they will rebuild the herd in one year due to the number of babies & the number of litters per year. I've seen several possums lurking about at night also & then we always have coons. I'll be using the live traps late winter/early spring. Out of 40 tomato plants I only was able to can 7 quarts of ripe tomatoes/juice because of the various critter damage. Worst year ever. I did can several quarts of green tomato salsa & a few half pints of green tomato relish. I have to pick them green or they get eaten by critters. The jalapenos were hot this year. I saw where a couple of them had been bitten but they never finished more than one bite & didn't return. I bet they wondered what they had got a hold of.

Last edited by mcool61; November 2, 2015 at 08:08 PM.
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Old November 2, 2015   #6
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yep time for biscuits , gravy , and tree rats
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Old November 2, 2015   #7
ScottinAtlanta
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Forget the pellet gun. This is better:

http://www.amazon.com/Gamo-611004954.../dp/B0018LB78E
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Old November 2, 2015   #8
b54red
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Got four of them late this evening in about ten minutes but the mosquitoes drove me inside before I could get anymore. Standing in my garden just after sundown and looking up in the surrounding trees was like a horror movie to me. Night of the Zombie Squirrels. They just keep coming. When I walked out this morning there were four of them on my table in my back yard just chewing away at the stumps left in my cups. They are making sure I have nothing to plant. I guess I'll just have to plant squirrels this fall.

Bill
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Old November 2, 2015   #9
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I know I've seen years where there were this many squirrels here, but it has been a long time. Maybe 20 years or more.
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Old November 2, 2015   #10
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Bill, as far as protecting seedlings from squirrels, you might want to make some of what my husband calls 'squirrel-proof cages'. He cuts a square of hardware cloth large enough to comfortably fit two standard-size flats. Then he cuts a length of hardware cloth and zip-ties it around the square with the ends slightly overlapping. Attach a handle made of plastic-coated wire clothesline to the top (knot each end) so that you can lift it up off the flats of plants to tend them. Voila, the perfect squirrel-proof cage for hardening off seedlings in a yard full of the critters. As extra bonuses, the wire mesh keeps hail off the seedlings and you can cut the zip-ties and fold everything flat when you're not using them.
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Old November 3, 2015   #11
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After trying to "manage the herd" for a few years, I decided that the squirrels destroy more than I'm willing to allow. It ain't the few dollars, it's the time and work lost. So, while this place is a bird sanctuary, it is a squirrel, skunk, possum, and coyote horror movie.

Made a good long-range shot the day before my Chemo from 43 yards with my trusty Daisy .177 "pump it up" with a 4 power scope and round-nosed pellets. The flat end pellets don't seem to penetrate well and only wound at the lower velocities. So, round nosed pellets only.

I like the ballistics on the link that Scott gave. 1200 FPS is like upper end .22 caliber. I only get about 750 FPS with my hand pump Daisy.

And, like Worth, I'll eat all that I kill. We have lots of walnut, hickory, and acorn trees around and that maintains a steady population. But the squirrels seem to know that this patch of land is like a mine field. (Enter at your own risk.) A couple of years ago, they destroyed 16 walnut trees that took me all winter to germinate and get started. That was the declaration of war.

To cook one, I like to boil the pieces like you would a chicken for "Chicken and Dumplings". Only, don't leave it in there too long. Bring it out and lightly bread it. Slow roast with spices and whatever you like until browned and tender. Sausage gravy and home-made biscuits.
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Old November 3, 2015   #12
mdvpc
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Since I put habanero fruit around my tomatoes, I haven't lost one tomato. I tried the a spray from habanero first, that did nothing. But once they chomped on a habanero, I haven't seen a squirrel in the garden, nor lost any fruit.
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Old November 3, 2015   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdvpc View Post
Since I put habanero fruit around my tomatoes, I haven't lost one tomato. I tried the a spray from habanero first, that did nothing. But once they chomped on a habanero, I haven't seen a squirrel in the garden, nor lost any fruit.

Dutch
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Old November 3, 2015   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ContainerTed View Post
After trying to "manage the herd" for a few years, I decided that the squirrels destroy more than I'm willing to allow. It ain't the few dollars, it's the time and work lost. So, while this place is a bird sanctuary, it is a squirrel, skunk, possum, and coyote horror movie. . .
I didn't realize this until developments in recent years prompted me to research it, but skunks are one of the most effective predators of voles --unlike hunting birds, skunks aren't deterred by voles' ability to hide in even low ground cover and unlike cats, skunks will dig to find vole burrows, which, with voles, usually aren't very deep.

We used to have occasional voles, but no great damage problem, and while we didn't often see a skunk, evidence of their presence came wafting on the air from time to time.

Suddenly their occasional wafting fragrance stopped -- presumably someone began targeting skunks -- and now voles are a bigger problem with most garden produce than weather or other issues. They don't seem to bother the corn, (but then for protection against weather and birds I plant corn in collars that would make young corn difficult for voles to access), but beets, beans, greens, and carrots the voles clean out directly -- things like tomatoes they kill by eating the roots or biting the stems -- also a problem with beans and young squash -- and they've begun doing some damage to potatoes, though if potato plants survive on top, most of the potatoes are too deep for voles. Wasn't a problem in the past when there were just a few voles, so I expect population pressure is what drives most of the vole damage. Something to bear in mind if the skunks aren't doing substantial damage directly.

Last edited by JLJ_; November 3, 2015 at 10:56 AM.
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Old November 3, 2015   #15
b54red
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bitterwort View Post
Bill, as far as protecting seedlings from squirrels, you might want to make some of what my husband calls 'squirrel-proof cages'. He cuts a square of hardware cloth large enough to comfortably fit two standard-size flats. Then he cuts a length of hardware cloth and zip-ties it around the square with the ends slightly overlapping. Attach a handle made of plastic-coated wire clothesline to the top (knot each end) so that you can lift it up off the flats of plants to tend them. Voila, the perfect squirrel-proof cage for hardening off seedlings in a yard full of the critters. As extra bonuses, the wire mesh keeps hail off the seedlings and you can cut the zip-ties and fold everything flat when you're not using them.
The problem with that solution is it does nothing to protect the plants once they are set out in the garden. Last year I lost all but two Brussels sprout plants the day after I set them out and had to keep sprinkling the replacements with blood meal all season to keep the squirrels at bay. They did the same with most of my broccoli and cabbage so I ended up spending a fortune on blood meal. It has to be spread fairly often because rain just washes it into the soil and it doesn't deter them any longer. I will say it is the most effective barrier that I have found that isn't lethal but it is a lot of trouble and one slip up and they feast on the plants. Thinning the herd is the only really practical solution and it usually works for a couple of years before they get bad again.

Bill
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