Groundhogs are tricky rascals to hunt!
Summertime provides few hunting opportunities. In fact, it can get pretty
boring when we get into the "dog days" of summer. However, that is when
groundhog hunting can provide the perfect remedy. The soybeans are up, the
clover is thick and the groundhogs are plentiful!
Early morning is the best time of day to locate and hunt woodchucks. The
heat is not yet unbearable and groundhogs are most active. They typically
return to their holes during the heat of the day. It's just a matter of finding
them and obtaining permission to hunt them.
Typically, farmers approached by woodchuck hunters often grant permission to
access their land in pursuit of chucks. They may refuse you permission to deer
hunt, but when it comes to groundhogs, they are quite cheerful granting you
access to their cash crop. And, you never know, by removing some of their
woodchucks, you may build a relationship with them that eventually will gain
access to other hunting opportunities.
Groundhogs are best located near soybean and clover fields. These fields are a
chuck's favorite food. Sign is readily apparent when they set up home near a
soybean field. They will graze bean plants down to stubs before moving to a new
location. So, if you see a soybean field missing a section of beans, or a
clover field that has a "bald" spot, rest assured you have probably found your groundhog.
The next challenge is to figure out where the hog has set up home. The main
hole will be strategically placed in an area where the groundhog can slowly
come out and survey the situation before exposing itself to the elements. It
will be clean of all vegetation around it and the dirt will be smooth from the
hogs' daily usage.
Usually, walking the edge of the field will reveal the chuck's main hole. If
there is an embankment, look for the hole near the edge. Another possibility is
under a tree root. Groundhogs often dig their home near trees that have exposed
I remember an occasion my husband John and I were trying to find the
groundhog's primary hole. It took considerable time and distance before we
located the hideout. The primary hole was located beneath the floor of an old
abandoned barn. This barn was very close to the soybean field and the hog had a
great way to sneak out and peek before exposing himself.
Keep in mind, woodchucks do not settle for just one hole. They sometimes
have emergency holes where they can drop into the ground in the event a
predator is spotted. They often dig escape holes in the open soybean or clover
field where they dine.
Bow vs. Gun
John and I enjoy bow and rifle hunting. We find the challenge of getting close
provides an exciting hunt. The bow can help you prepare
for the upcoming deer season.
As mentioned previously, John and I had located a primary hole just under
the floor of an old abandoned barn. We had access to an upper loft in this barn
and it proved quite successful for bowhunting. It is
a tremendous challenge to get the bow drawn on a "nervous" woodchuck,
regardless of where you are hiding. Sometimes they seem more skittish than the
Eastern wild turkey!
Don't get me wrong. Hunting chucks with a .22 caliber rifle is not easy.
Even when a groundhog is out in the field dining on vegetation, you will notice
it does not stay down to feed for long. It comes up consistently surveying the
area. You may raise the rifle only to have the woodchuck drop back down into
the thick vegetation and disappear while you sit there with your gun shouldered
wondering where he will pop up next! Then, you also have to contend with a
scope that may fog up because of heat and high humidity that is common in summer.
Setup is crucial to success. We prefer to setup close to the main hole,
usually no more than 30 yards. When setting up by a field, natural cover, such
as honeysuckle and other vegetation, and strategically placed limbs can be
used. When opportunity allows, we prefer a tree behind us for back support and
build our natural blind off the side of the tree. There also are several
companies that manufacture small pop-up blinds. Most hunters use them for deer
and turkey hunting, but they provide a quick and easy setup for
Regardless of which weapon you choose, groundhog hunting is a great way to
get out in God's beautiful creation, breakup the summer monotony, and provide a
means to help prepare for the upcoming fall hunting seasons.
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