THANKSGIVING PACKRAT HUNT
A FAMILY TRADITION
You can't buy this kind of fun! An excited Caleb West to my wife the first time he hunted with us. Caleb could probably be called an expert" at this point in his pack rat hunting career. Case in point; if there are explosives on hand, it's because he brought them.
The best part of the hunt is watching grown men scream like little girls. Lifelong friend, and semi-professional packrat hunter, Tom Edwards. If you get the chance, ask Tom about the packrat that 'attacked' us while driving down highway 50 in his old Impala during our CAMP WOOD days.
Not sure if I would call it a "passion" or not, but our annual Thanksgiving Packrat Hunt (TPH for the uninitiated), is a heavily anticipated event which is looked forward to with great relish by our entire family --- including me. In fact, there are usually folks calling one of us to ask if they can tag along on a hunt. Due to some technical difficulties in this year's excursion (rough terrain and lots and lots of scrub brush and cedar), we've included 6 "bonus" videos at the bottom, which are leftovers from January's (2013) "Guy Weekend" that I happened to find on a desktop file on my computer. As is usually the case, the best videos, unfortunately, are the ones that for one reason or another, we never got.
YOU MIGHT BE A REDNECK IF...........
Let me start by saying that country people (including farmers and ranchers) think about most things a bit differently than those of you who were raised in an urban environment. if you grew up where we grew up (extreme rural Kansas), you would view Pack Rats for what they really are --- the spawn of Satan. If you weren't careful, they would be in your sheds, your barns, your grain bins, your tractors, under the hood (or seats) of your vehicles, and even in the walls or attic of your house (or under your bed if given half a chance). They'll chew threw electrical wiring, plumbing, upholstery, and even lumber. In fact, they'll chew through just about everything short of concrete ---- and carry off just about any sort of 'trophy' they can can lay their grubby little paws on (they love shiny things, including watches, change, and tools --- ask me how I know). In other words, they are a destructive pest that would do well to be eradicated. If you really stop and think about it, the state of Kansas should invite us all to the capital and publicly commend us for doing our part!
When it comes to building their nests, packrats are smart --- real smart. They frequently build their nests up high in thorn trees (Honey Locust), in the crotch of hedge trees (Osage Orange, which are also extremely thorny), or in the middle of thickets so dense, you can't reach them without great effort (and maybe some industrial-strength clippers or a bow saw --- both of which we have carried along on hunts in the past).
On this particular hunt, we had found a huge packrat nest in the middle of one such thicket that was out in the open near some railroad tracks. We managed to surround the nest, then wade in and stir things up with our potato forks and sucker rods. Two large rats boiled out and began what became a 5 minute mad-scramble. We got one of them almost immediately, but the other was running wild. Bobus was chasing the rat all over a downed tree and all through the thicket. Several of us (including me) were crawling around on all fours while the rat ran circles around us / through us. And the whole time, Malachi was (when he had clear shots) blazing away with his paintball gun (the only gun we carry --- typically used to knock treed rats out of the tallest Hedge Rows --- unless, of course, someone takes it upon himself to climb a tree).
As I was crawling around during the melee, I realized that the rat had actually run underneath me between my feet. I had on heavy-duty leather work gloves and managed to hand-grab the rat as it shot through. At the same time, Bobus (all 35 lbs of solid muscle) tore through underneath me (also from the rear) and snatched the packrat right out of my gloved hand. We both dropped the rat, he scurried off, and the scrum continued. I finally hand-grabbed the rat again and threw him at the dog, who made short work of him. Just one more reason why our good friend AARON is already asking if we are going to do another winter hunt this year. Sure! And if you want to come hunt with us, let me know so I can send you the date(s).
HERE are some of the other pack rat videos we have shot over the years. It's a great Thanksgiving Tradition. Hopefully unique traditions are part of your Thanksgiving as well. We spent the following day having paintball wars on my brother's farm. If you have a tradition that could match us for uniqueness, make sure to leave us a comment. We may want to try it out ourselves!
THANKSGIVING 2013 PACK RAT HUNT
VIDEOS ALL SHOT THIS YEAR NEAR CIRCLEVILLE, KANSAS
WORKING HARD FOR THIS RAT
This nest proved to be a Pack Rat Fortress. Although difficult, it was not impenetrable. Because of the cold weather, most of the rats sat on the nest longer than is typical.
LINDSAY'S HAND GRAB
FYI: The yellow on Lindsay's gloves is paint from several of Malachi and Sam's direct shots. Yeah; we added another gunner this year. Two teenage boys, two paintballers. By the way, the peak of Pack Rat Hunting stardom is the elusive "Hand Grab" (grabbing the rat with a gloved hand and then tossing it to the dog).
ONE OF MANY THAT GOT AWAY
Many times, when we stir up a nest, there is no one home. Many other times, the rats get away --- sometimes seemingly vanishing into thin air. Sometimes, we simply can't get them out --- even though we know they're home (next video).
COULD NOT GET HIM OUT
We worked on this group of three connected nests for about 15 minutes. We should of known going in that there was no way he was coming out. The rat showed himself at least a dozen times, but always went back in the nest. By the way, notice the green in the nest in the opening seconds of the video. This is the best bet someone is living there.
JANUARY 2013 GUY'S PACK RAT WEEKEND
BOBUS IS ON IT HERE
Here is Bobus sticking his head in the nest to pull one out. Watch how he shakes the rat. Two years ago, we had a skunk come out of a huge nest similar to this one. Bobus shook it like a demon for at least 45 seconds. It didn't help (HERE).
RAT ON A BRANCH
Make sure to watch for the rat running across the large branch running horizontally across the screen. Good thing Bobus was able to get in there because this was an incredibly dense thicket.
VANISHING PACK RAT TRICK
One of the things about hunting Pack Rats is the crazy number that always manage to get away. We have seen numerous times where the rats seemingly vanish into thin air. This was one such time.
FORKING A PACK RAT
if you're the least bit squeamish, don't watch. This rat picked a hollow to run into that was not quite hollow enough to hide from Mark's potato fork.
As an ex-Marine sniper and demolitions expert, we can always count on Caleb to show up with something "fun" --- usually some sort of explosive device(s). These will sometimes work to drive them out when the rats are barricaded in their hollow Hedge Trees (at least half the hedge trees where the rats like to build their nests are hollow).
Packrats build various sizes of nests. Although not the biggest we have seen, this one is huge (we call the biggest ones, "Packrat Hotels"). Watch Caleb as he tears apart the grassy inner nest. You can typically tell an active nest from a dormant one by looking for fresh trails in and out of the nest, as well as green (cedar or hedge balls). This rat had been hoarding beer cans as well.