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July 6, 2013
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Publisher’s Notebook: Moles elusive as mounds of dirt keep dominating the lawn

It’s easy to suggest I’m making a mountain out of a molehill. After all, it’s just grass, right?

But it’s my grass and I happen to like it very much, which is why the mole under my front lawn must eventually die.

Besides, I’ve already surrendered most of my five acres to probably several mole families. My fields are lined with mole tunnels, evidenced by the mounds of dirt the little blind buggers kick up as they make their way here and there in search of worms and other mole delicacies.

“Have at it,” I’ve told them. “Dig to your heart’s content.” It’s just a wide-open field that I have to mow every couple of weeks with my John Deere. I may build a baseball diamond out there one day just for the hell of it, but for now the moles can have it.

All I’m asking for is a little piece of lawn right out in front of my house. I don’t think it’s too much to ask that the moles leave it alone, that they not turn my little slice of green, manicured lawn into something resembling an Iraqi mine field.

Sadly, the negotiations seem to have broken down. At least one mole (there may be others) has decided to eat my lawn and so it’s time to take this up a notch.

That’s why I spent a chunk of my Fourth of July shooting holes in my lawn. The shots kind of blended in with the louder Independence Day explosions, since my neighbors seem to like blowing things up on that special holiday. I heard at least a dozen major explosions before noon coming from somewhere close. If you like to blow things up — and who doesn’t — July 4th is the perfect day.

So the Ruger 10/22 I used to shoot at the mole was hardly noticeable. A firecracker is louder.

You would think my cat would take care of that kind of dirty work. Sammy used to be a cold-blooded killer, but lately all he wants to do is sleep and eat. My dogs would kill the mole, but they don’t know how. They aren’t as smart as a mole and my dogs don’t really care what the mole does to my lawn anyway.

My kids would kill the mole, but they’re too busy texting and surfing the Web to even notice the mounds of dirt on my lawn.

So it’s up to me.

Before going for the rifle, I tried to go online to see if anyone had a good way of getting rid of moles. Most of the good advice suggested that nothing really works and that I might be better off staying indoors with a beer. One guy said he tried traps, water and even carbon monoxide (he actually ran a hose from his exhaust pipe into the mole hole) with no success.

Another guy said all I needed was a couple of shovels and some patience, so I tried that first. When it didn’t work I decided it would be easier to grab a beer, wait by the molehill and, when he pops his little head up, blast him into the Mole Afterlife, or wherever moles go when they die.

It was around 3 p.m. or so when I saw the dirt near the top of his last molehill move. I slowly grabbed my rifle and took aim, whispering to my dog that he might want to step aside for a minute. One more twitch of the dirt mound and … POP! I fired a direct hit, blowing off the excess dirt to reveal a tunnel. I ran over and lowered the barrel into the tunnel and fired six or seven more shots. Smoke rose from the tunnel and there was silence.

There was no way the mole could have survived that attack, so I filled the hole, leveled the mound and went inside.

“Got him,” I told my wife. “That’s the last time he’ll ever mess with my grass.”

“Are you sure?” she asked. “Did you see his body?”

My wife is the practical one in the family. She’s learned that I have a tendency to exaggerate, so she generally wants proof — even if it requires an actual body.

“Nothing could have survived in that tunnel,” I told her. “Moles aren’t that fast.” I had no idea at the time how fast moles are, so I was guessing.

The next morning she couldn’t wait to tell me there was a new molehill right next to the one I had blasted. “I think you missed him,” she said. “Maybe he was in a different tunnel.”

I went home for lunch and the mole had burrowed up two more hills and seemed to be rubbing it in my face. So I grabbed my rifle and waited again, this time determined to unload the entire 25-round magazine, if that’s what it took to end this.

The dirt flinched and I starting blasting away. There was dirt and smoke everywhere and I looked up to see my daughter and her friend staring at me through the window.

She was shaking her head in disapproval while her friend looked on in horror. “That’s my dad,” she was saying. “Let’s go to my room.”

The mole survived, of course. There were six more molehills the next day and one of them had a shell casing sitting on top, a message that he owns my lawn and plans to keep it for as long as he wants.

Jeff Ackerman is publisher of The News-Review. He can be reached at 541-957-4263 or jackerman@nrtoday.com.

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The News-Review Updated Jul 6, 2013 06:53PM Published Jul 6, 2013 05:28PM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.