• New York Woodchucks

    Here's an article written by Forum member Mark Cring on a type of hunting that, I believe, is unique to the U.S.

    Of all the hunting I have done in my life I have to confess that my ultimate passion is hunting the Woodchuck back home in Northern New York State. It was actually one of the very first hunting experiences I had way back when my Dad first introduced me to guns and hunting. As a young nimrod I used to try to shoot the elusive critters on my Grandfathers Farm. I can remember using my Dad’s Marlin 336 Carbine in .30-30 Win. To be honest I wasn’t worth a damn at the sport. Anyway the interest in Woodchucks was always in the back of my mind. I first began serious pursuit of them back in 1980 when my new Bride and I had a mobile home on the outskirts of Black River, New York. I didn’t own jack for a varmint rifle so I can remember using a .22 Automatic Marlin Rifle and of all things a 50 Caliber Hawken Muzzleloader. Most of the time the Chucks made a fool of me but I got lucky once in awhile and connected. The old 50 Cal would really give them a lift!!
    It was around 1985 when I finally could afford a proper varmint rifle and I purchased my first Weatherby- a Vanguard Sporter in .22-250 Remington. I had died and gone to Heaven!!!. I puttered around with the Vanguard for a few years but I was lacking a really good place to hunt. My oldest Son, when he was in high school found himself a new girlfriend. The proverbial “Farmer’s Daughter”. A beauty to say the least. Now the Farmer’s Daughter’s Dad owns several hundred acres out in the boonies of Northern New York and has a problem. He is infested with Woodchucks. I have once again died and gone to Heaven and every since I have had my very own Woodchuck happy hunting grounds. For years I would go out there probably at least 4 or 5 nights a week and terrorize the poor critters. I wish I had kept count of every one I shot with the Vanguard, but ZI can tell you that if I had carved a small notch in the stock of that rifle for every one I shot I would have had to re-stock it several times.
    Woodchucks are very wary critters. Most often if they got a look at you they would disappear for the evening. I got myself a hard learned education early on and I got to the point where I virtually turned into a woodchuck “Commando”. Full camo, utilize every tactic possible to keep hidden- used every lay of the land and possible advantage- hedgerows, rocks, trees- anything that would allow me to get into shooting position and keep the chucks totally unaware that danger was imminent. I crawled enough miles on my belly to travel from New York to Kansas!!!
    My woodchuck hunting craze had control of me. I remember one evening I went out to the farm and the hay was about chest deep. I went hunting anyway. As I found myself out in the back 40 I began to think if I saw a chuck it would the tallest ever- sorta like a Chuck-Giraffe. So I continued anyway hoping to just check out recent chuck activity. Well I knew where every hole was so I was approaching one walking along a trail where the chucks had left their holes. I looked down and about one foot from me came a small chuck heading down the trail. In a purely instinctive knee jerk reaction I kicked out with my right boot and took the chuck right under his chin and lifted him end for end about ten feet away where he lay motionless. Damn, I thought, I just got one with my boot!! Well, it was only a few seconds when the chuck stirred, got up and came back down the trail at me. This time I had plenty of time to react and I cocked my right boot and drove him this time about 15 yards like a place kicker!! There he lay motionless. Got him that time I thought. Wrong- a couple of seconds later he came to with the attitude that he was going to kill the SOB that just kicked him in the face twice. Down the trail he came snarling, growling, thoroughly pissed and with the intent of getting revenge on me. I was backing up like crazy and he was gaining on me. At about 18” I had to look down the side of the rifle and shoot from the hip. I think I vaporized over 50% of him. I immediately went home thankful to be in one piece.
    Anyway, I continue to love hunting the chucks when I can. For the last 8 years I have been on the road from Military Installation to Military Installation and don’t get home very often. If I am lucky enough to retire someday I shall return to my Woodchuck Happy Hunting Grounds and pick up the fight again.
    I’d love to hear from some other Woodchuck hunting lovers.