I'm not anywhere near a tree-hugger. I consider myself to be a conservationist along the lines of Teddy Roosevelt; we are the stewards of the land and it's our job to take care of the land and the animals that inhabit that land. Create parks and preserves and manage the lands and the wildlife that roam the land. In my mind, managing the wildlife involves letting them live in their own habitat on their own accord. Managing the wildlife also involves keeping their numbers at levels such that the habitat can sustain those numbers. It kind of freaks me out when Sammy the Squirrel hops up on the picnic table looks me in the eye and says "Hey buddy, can you spare a nut?"
I had that happen here at Dreher Island State Park on the shores of beautiful Lake Murray. We pulled up and there were squirrels everywhere.
Squirrels to the left.
Squirrels to the right.
Freakin' squirrels everywhere. Literally. They were doing the tree rat nasty right there on the road. Hey, take that inside!
Wanted to yell out "SQUIRREL!!" at the top of my lungs like the dad on Christmas Vacation. Seriously, the things were all around us. Like they were surrounding the Lance. All they needed were bows and arrows and little ponies to ride. I lelt like Custer at the OK Corral. Wait, that's two stories mixed up. I felt like the herring at Clarks Hill pushed up against the clay by a pack of 5-pounders.
Straight up — these squirrels aren't afraid of anything or anyone. I was hanging out our camper lights and dropped one of the light covers on the ground. Sammy walked right over to it to see if it would go well with his tree house décor. I thought the little rat was going to heft it and take off with it. WTH? It's a pink Norman DD22. What is a squirrel going to do with that?
A few hours later, I was sorting through some hooks and baits on the picnic table and had one get up on the table and rummage through the hook boxes. I thought maybe he was looking for a certain size. I could smell the little tree rat and hear him purr, that's how close he was. I could have spit in his eye. The wife had another one walk behind her as she sat on the table. It looked up at her as if to say "Hey babe, what's cookin'?"
This is a wild animal. He's not supposed to be up in my face looking for a handout. I could feed these little freaks by hand. That's wrong. He's supposed to be foraging through the forest for nuts and berries, not strolling through the campground scrounging for potato chips. If he gets dependant on eating chips, what's he going to do this winter when all the chip givers don't come out to the campground? Is Sammy going to remember what a hickory nut or acorn smells like? That's why there are signs in many parks that state "Don't feed the animals". Should be "Don't feed the animals, dammit".
Can't wait for the Kennedy's to get here with Louie. I'd like to turn that Jack Russell terror loose on some squirrel ass. Put the fear of Louie in the tree rats. Maybe turn him loose on some of the chip givers, too.
"Oh, I'm sorry Mr. Ranger, the leash just slipped out of my hand. I'm sure he didn't mean to hurt that tree rat."
That would be my story.
After Louie cleaned up the squirrels, I'd turn him loose on some of the people that insist on building a rip-roaring fire and keeping it flaming all day and night. WTH? It's 90 degrees outside. Fahrenheit. You're standing around in shorts and a t-shirt. You must have sweat dripping down the crack of your butt. Why do you feel like you need a fire? Does that make you feel like a real man? Is the hair on your back growing better because of the heat?
I notice that most of the fire bugs build the fire upwind of their camper/ tent/ whatever they reside in. They don't seem to care if it's downwind of someone else. So what makes you think that I want to have it wafting through my camper? If you don't want to smell it, what makes you think that I do? Roast your damn marshmallows over some Sterno or a candle.
Yeah, I think I need a bad-ass little Jack Russell like Louie. I could train him to chase squirrels and pee on fires. Nothing like smelling some burning dog urine. Hmm, that might come wafting back my way. Might be a better idea just to suffer through the weekends and wait for the campground to clear out on Sunday afternoon. Monday always brings a breath of fresh air.
Hey, here's an idea; maybe I could whack a few of the tree rats on the head, peel 'em down, and saunter over to the neighbor's fire. Maybe I could wear a loin cloth or something primitive and fire-like.
"Mind if I could borrow your flame to roast my rats?"
Wonder how fast they would pack the kids up and head for the house?
For more info on Kevin Short or to contact Kevin, check out his Web site at www.kfshort.com.