Squirrelly — derivation of a term? | Bleader

Monday, July 18, 2011

Squirrelly — derivation of a term?

Posted By on 07.18.11 at 08:21 AM

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An Elgin man hunting squirrels in his backyard has run into problems with the law. A stray bullet reportedly shattered a patio door and wound up in a neighbor's wall. The Sun-Times had the story.

This brought back memories. There was a man up the block back home who hunted squirrels. The neighbors acquiesced. It was a very shady suburban street and there were a lot of squirrels. I guess none of us supposed any but the squirrels paid a price for the man's relentless activity. But years later, after growing up and moving far away, the squirrel hunter's daughter reappeared in my life as occasional Reader contributor Susan DeGrane. She told me differently.

After reading the Sun-Times item, she contributed her thoughts.

My dad used a pellet gun to kill more than 361 squirrels during the 1960s when we lived on Highland Place in Glendale, MO. Not sure exactly why he did this. At the time, I think he fancied himself a Mike Fink or Davy Crockett. He was careful not to aim at neighbors' homes or pets or humans, and pellet guns are not as powerful as rifles. Even so, his prowling the backyard, pumping that air rifle, was unnerving. At first my mother kept yelling at me and my three siblings to, "Get in the house!" But my dad was always doing this in nice summer weather, and we were insistent about going outside. She finally gave up.

He had a habit of aiming for the eyes. The result gave me bad dreams. For years, I felt bad about the squirrels. Decades later I wrote an article about a Squirrel Lover's Club to neutralize any bad karma.

On our shady street in Chicago we don't shoot squirrels and probably won't, even with the Supreme Court endorsing frontier justice. But we do trap them in the attic. The service that provides the cages and collects the squirrels tells us they "drive them to Wisconsin." I'm sure they do.

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