Every fall, as the temperatures start to drop, uninvited guests show up at El Rancho Elliott. Mice, in particular, decide it’s oh so much more pleasant inside the walls of our house than outside in the freezing cold.
So when the temperature drops below 40, you can expect to hear the occasional scratching in the walls at our house. We become accustomed to it after a while, and our cat thinks it is high quality entertainment. Sometimes he gets sufficiently motivated to go on the hunt. It’s at this point that you have to be careful, because you never know where you will find a “do it yourself mouse kit” left by our cat as a trophy someplace in the house. I can tell you with absolute certainty that if you happen to be padding barefoot across the kitchen floor in the middle of the night, you really don’t want to step on the remains of kitty’s latest victory.
Anyway, from fall through winter to early spring, odd noises in the Elliott house are simply part of our acoustical landscape. As a result, I thought it unremarkable when my wife announced, “I think there’s something in the ceiling over the upstairs bathroom.”
“It’s probably a mouse,” I said absentmindedly while pecking away at an assignment.
“I think it’s bigger than a mouse,” she said. “Maybe you should come up here and have a listen.”
I trudged upstairs and stuck my head in the bathroom. It sounded like Seal Team Six was conducting close quarter combat drills overhead, complete with Pointy Objects of various sorts.
Outwardly, I tried to sound casual: “Yeah, it sounds bigger than your average mouse. I’ll take a look.” Inwardly, I was flipping out. It sounded waaaaaaay bigger than your average mouse.
Now at this point, you need to understand something about the layout of our house. It’s small cottage with two bedrooms and a bathroom on the second floor. At the top of the stairs, there’s a small landing with a bedroom to the right, another to the left, and the bathroom dead ahead. To access the attic, there a small hatch directly over the landing. You push the hatch up, slide it to one side, and then, standing on a chair or stepladder, you can look around the attic.
Standing on a chair, I pushed up through the hatch and shined a flashlight toward the attic above the bathroom. There, just under the edge of the roofline, was the culprit: a squirrel. Not just any squirrel, mind you, but a highly successful squirrel, judging from the plumpness of his physique and his glossy coat.
As I trained the flashlight in his direction, Mr. Bushytail stopped what he was doing. He looked at me. I gave him my best Clint Eastwood “this attic ain’t big enough for both of us” stare and slowly retreated back down through the hatch, pulling the cover in place behind me.
My mind was racing. Clearly this squirrel needed a pneumatically-induced “retirement.” An air rifle would be too cumbersome. Getting it through that 2’ x 2’ hatch with me and then drawing a bead on the squirrel would be laborious and time consuming, but at the same time, I didn’t want to take the chance of wound the squirrel and having it go berserk in the attic.
Finally, I grabbed my red-dot-equipped .177 cal Beeman P1 pistol and loaded it with Gamo Raptor PBA ammo. Even though the distance was less than a dozen feet, I wanted a flat trajectory and excellent penetration. I pushed my way back through the attic hatch and flipped on the flashlight.
The squirrel was gone. Now what?
To be continued.
Til next time, aim true and shoot straight!
– Jock Elliott