Day 44 and loaded for bear

paulinctOctober 13, 2007


This was the view early this morning. Now I suppose these spots will fill next summer, but for cryin' out loud!

Anything to do now other than rake up the clumps and level it out best I can?


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THAT SUCKS! I mean, that really sucks!! It looks like ALL the neighborhood squirrels had a party in your yard. Tree Rats!!! If you fix those spots the squirrels will come back to them, I hope you have a pellet gun!

Anything to do now other than rake up the clumps and level it out best I can?I really wish I knew what to tell you!

    Bookmark   October 13, 2007 at 8:33AM
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Any chance that it's moles or voles, rather than squirrels?

In either event, you need the anti-critter spray, and you need it right now. Let's make some. (This is based on Jerry Baker's recipe, it might vary a tad here or there.)

Into a five gallon paint bucket, put:

1. Some tobacco juice. To make tobacco juice, go to the store and get a plug of Redman chewing tobacco. Cut it into fourths, and drop 1/4 of the package into a toe of a nylon stocking. Fill up a spaghetti pot (and yes, I got to keep the old one, and She Who Must Be Obeyed went out and bought a new spaghetti pot. But I've got the old one in the garage, for various things.) about 3/4 full in the pot with water, boil the water on the stove, and hang the nylon with the tobacco into the water (saving part, over the edge, so you can pull it out and toss it in the trash, neatly). When that water is dark, dark brown (not light brown), and kinda gross, it's ready. Pour the tobacco tea into the bucket.

2. Put in the bucket about 4 shot glasses, or one juice glass, of liquid cheap dish soap.

3. Put into the bucket a bottle of the hottest pepper sauce you can find, by pouring the pepper sauce through the toe of a nylon stocking (the stocking catches the pepper chunks. throw the stocking away. you want just the sauce in there, so it won't screw up your hose end sprayer). NOTE: Tabasco Sauce has the right size bottle, within an ounce or two, but Tabasco is not REMOTELY hot enough. You want to go to the Imported Foods section of the grocery, and get something labelled like Jamaica Damnation, or Hell On Wheels, something that is SO HOT, you wouldn't even consider actually eating the stuff. I got a case of some from (12 bottles) and am still working off that case. You want the hottest sauce you can find. Pour a more-or-less Tabasco sized bottle into the bucket.

4. Pour about half of a one-pound coffee can of human urine into the bucket. Yep, you're gonna do it in the garage, into the one pound coffee can, and put the lid on the can. When the can's half full, cap it, you're done. Pour the urine into the bucket. Cap the empty can. Toss the can into the trash.

5. Put a half gallon of ammonia into the bucket. The ammonia is nitrogen, and a little shot of ammonia will help the lawn, but doesn't have much to do with critters.

Now you've got the mix. Stir. Then fill the bucket, with water, to HALF FULL in the bucket. You're ready. Stir, a lot.

Filter it again. Get another bucket, and pour the mix through the toe of a nylon stocking, into another bucket. Toss the stocking. What's left is a filtered (hopefully, no chunks of this or that: the chunks left with the stocking, into the trash) mix, that you are going to spray, with your hose-end sprayer, onto the lawn, onto the flowers, onto the critter paths (if you can find a path running through the flower beds, or across your neighbor's lawn onto your lawn), spray everything. I even spray my neighbor's lawn, on the part closest to my lawn.

Over spray everything, to the point of run-off. As soon as the spray is dripping, move on. Spray something else. Spray at 2oz to the gallon. Sometimes, I use 3oz to the gallon. 4oz to the gallon is too much: you don't need that much.

Spray it all. Everything. Keep the kids off the lawn, for a day.

That spray will eliminate critters. Moles, voles, squirrels, cats, dogs, and deer. They can smell (yes they can) a faint whiff of human urine, everywhere, even though we can't. They smell and feel the tobacco, even though we can't. That hot pepper residue touches their cute little pads on their cute little feet.

And they gone. Not Home. Gone City. Left Town. Outta Here.

There's not much better to see, in the lawn biz, than watching the dog that usually does his buisness on your lawn, heading over to your lawn, from next door, and hitting that area that has been sprayed, giving it about two steps, and heading back to his own yard. It's most cool.

The spray is good until a heavy rain.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2007 at 11:20AM
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Thanks guys. My first thought was to arm myself with something powerful enough to turn that varmint into a fine mist. But then I realized I might end up taking out a neighbor or two...

So then I thought to catch the sucker and stick his head on a pike at the entrance to the yard, so that he could serve as a warning to others. But while working out that plan I realized that if anyone saw what I was up to I would end up at the funny farm, or worse....

So finally, when the stores opened this morning I went out a picked up some Shake Away fox urine granules and Bonide's Repel's All. Philes, I wish I had seen your post first! I can get my hands on all of those things pretty easily, though I am looking after my young son today and probably would not be able to get it all done before nightfall.

So I think my plan now is to use some combination of these two products to try to get me through tonight (apply them at yard entrances and the lawn areas where I spread the most compost (and would expect the most worms), then do Philes' whole yard spray on Monday and as necessary after then for the rest of the season.

I was thinking it was a skunk, since I get them occasionally, and he might have been looking for worms that would have come up after the rains I got this week. I don't think it was a mole as I have never seen a mole tunnel in this yard. I don't know anything about voles, but will look them up. I don't think it was squirrels because the damage looks like it was done by a more powerful animal, and a noctural one. Could have been my ex-wife I guess, but I would have heard her car pull up. ;-)

If not voles or a skunk (or my ex...), what else could it be?

And does this sound like a reasonable plan?

Thanks again,

    Bookmark   October 13, 2007 at 12:18PM
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billhill(z5 MI - KBG)

If its moles or voles, then use a scissor type mole trap. That is the best kind of trap. Baits and repellants are just voodoo. Bill Hill

    Bookmark   October 13, 2007 at 1:25PM
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billhill(z5 MI - KBG)

On second thought, it doesnt look like moles or voles, but I think Philes21 voodoo might work. Its nasty enough to repel the devil himself Im guessing skunk, opossum or raccoon You got to get rid that xxxxxxx. Bill Hill

    Bookmark   October 13, 2007 at 1:38PM
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I was just out there raking up the mess, and it appears he left a calling card:

Too big for mole or vole (I just learned a little about them) I think, so am pretty sure it was a skunk. But if anyone can ID that turd I'd appreciate it.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2007 at 1:40PM
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blip01(7, NJ)

"But if anyone can ID that turd I'd appreciate it."

Yep, it was your ex! :-O

    Bookmark   October 13, 2007 at 2:46PM
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    Bookmark   October 13, 2007 at 2:48PM
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Hey, atleast he left a quarter:-)

    Bookmark   October 13, 2007 at 3:18PM
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it could also be a raccoon

    Bookmark   October 13, 2007 at 6:38PM
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Paul, that may be a skunk. Skunks will feed on grubs or worms that come to the surface after a heavy rain or watering. Whatever that varmint is, you may end up having to rent a steel cage trap baited with a little peanut butter on some bread.

Hopefully, it will not be a skunk.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2007 at 11:57PM
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I had a skunk problem over the past year. Every day, I would come outside to find parts of my lawn dug up. I finally called someone to come and set a trap. In the two weeks after setting the trap, I had the guy coming back to take away every neighborhood animal EXCEPT the skunk. It was very frustrating.

The first trap was too small. He got in, let the door fall on his back, ate the food, and then backed out. He did that a few times before I had them bring a bigger trap.

Then, a week later, my neighbor found a dead skunk in his yard. I could have saved some money and just let him die of old age!

    Bookmark   October 14, 2007 at 2:05AM
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Eastpenna, I figured that was my tip for cleaning up after him! Mighty nice of him.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2007 at 10:52AM
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Thanks for your thoughts guys, I have had a skunk in my back yard now and then over the last few years but he has never caused me any problems. Maybe because my soil has never been as rich in OM as it is now. But now seeing the damage they can do I think I need to start thinking about trapping. Ugh.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2007 at 11:49AM
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On the bright side, my son let me borrow his excavator this morning to help clean up the rakings:

At least we're having some fun with it!

    Bookmark   October 14, 2007 at 1:00PM
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I picked up some Red Man today and have accumulated almost enough of the, ahem, man-made product to be able to mix and spray tomorrow.

Just a few questions:

1. Roughly how many square feet do you spray this amount of material over? At 2 or 3oz./gallon sprayed until runoff I imagine I should have some left over after spraying 2200 square feet once. How does it work out for you? I wonder if I need to make a smaller quantity so that I don't have to store the leftover material for too long.

2. When you say "bucket" do you have a 5 gallon bucket in mind?

3. My local supermarket selection of hot sauces is limited, but I do have a few hot sauces on hand. The hottest is cayenne-based. Cayenne is hotter than Tabasco, but hot enough? Do you know what peppers are in yours? I don't mind ordering hotter stuff over the internet of course, but I would like to get a spray down tomorrow if possible. Maybe double up on the cayenne stuff and find something hotter for delivery in a week or two?

Thank you again for this recipe. My varmint just laughed off the Shake Away and Bonide products last night, which I had thought I applied rather heavily. Happily, he didn't do as much damage last night as he did the previous night, but I suspect that had more to do with the worms having gone deeper as the soil has dried than the control measures I took.

Nevertheless I applied even more of the stuff for tonight, mostly at the property borders. Used up almost all of it, since it seems like there is not much of anything in those small quantities that could burn out a lawn, even a new one, in those quantities.

Anyway, I want to try your method before I resort to trapping. Also it seems like it would work on the squirrels, which would make it worth the effort just for that.

Thank you very much again, I really appreciate your detailed advice!


    Bookmark   October 14, 2007 at 6:31PM
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Roughly how many square feet do you spray this amount of material over?

All of it. And if you get done spraying, and have some spray mix left over, start over again. Use it all up.

Yes, the cheap-azz five gallon paint bucket (orange) from Home Depot, about 99 cents each. Unless you have brothers, who are painters, as I do.

In my opinion, the sauce isn't hot enough: but use what you've got. You can get hotter stuff later. Same with the man made material. Use what you've got.

Get the spray down, and check the results. You can improve it later.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2007 at 7:12PM
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Paul,beside the heartbreaking pics of the lawn damage, you have a really good sense of humor and a really good little helper there. This thread made me cringe and at the same time lol at the funny posts.

I can feel for you with the lawn damage, but those last two pics put a big smile on my face.

Keep us posted, my friend.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2007 at 7:44PM
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Paul, see if you can find the Tabasco made with Habanero peppers in it too put in the mix......some hot stuff!

    Bookmark   October 14, 2007 at 8:06PM
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Philes, thank you for the clarification!

Firstandgoal, thank you for your nice note! When I realized I had a wheelbarrow full of dirt and grass, a toy excavator, and a little boy, it was obvious what to do. He had a blast, and really cheered me up.

And hey, I can still try dormant seeding those spots in February.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2007 at 1:20PM
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Paul, I was just wondering if you had a chance to make the (lets call it philes21 varmint tea)? Please let us know the results that you get. I am very interested to know if it really does work that well. If it does, I may just have to mix me up a batch!

    Bookmark   October 15, 2007 at 11:16PM
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I would have recommended megawatt lasers and an automated Gatling gun, but I think Philes' concoction is easier and safer.

I've had good luck with Squirrel Away (Capsicum pepper). It's made to put in bird seed, but you can spread it around as well.

Warning. Wear protection and STAY UPWIND and DO NOT RUB YOUR EYES. This stuff burns (unsurprising, that's what's in pepper spray).

Animals can't stand it. The downside is that children and pets can't stand it either.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 7:10AM
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Eastpenna, no not yet, as much as I have wanted to, work and other obligations have gotten in the way. Should be able to get it down tomorrow and will report results.

FWIW that Bonide "Repels All" apparently only repels humans. The stuff is truly vile to smell, but it hasn't stopped the skunk or whatever it is (and I have some more reason to believe that it is actually a skunk, see below), and I even saw some tree rats on the lawn today, looking happy as ever.

And the "Shake Away" granules have not worked yet either. Now the container says best results after two weeks, but I am not holding out any hope. I mean, the stuff smells like panther piss right out of the container, so why wouldn't it work immediately? Who knows. IMHO the only result of purchasing these two products is that I am 30 bucks lighter. Live and learn I guess.

On why I think it is a skunk: I spoke to my next door neighbor tonight and asked him if he has noticed any skunks in the neighborhood recently.

"Oh sure, I have a whole family of them living under my shed."


So it looks like even if I can catch one in a trap, this will be an ongoing process that will cost maybe a thousand bucks before I can get rid of all of them. And then there is nothing stopping some new skunk from settling in the vacated den. Aaarrgh!

Morpheus, thank you! I will look into that Capsicum powder if the anti-varmint tea doesn't work, but since I have a toddler I don't think that will be a long term solution for me. I can keep him off the yard for the rest of this year, but not next. The whole point of my renovation was to give him a nice yard to play in. Maybe I will just have to beef up my fencing somehow.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 9:37PM
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Here are a few tips for you.

Never leave pet food outside.

Never discard edible garbage where skunks can get to it.

Secure garbage containers and eliminate their odors. Use a small amount of ammonia or cayenne pepper in the garbage to discourage scavenging.

Place mothball-filled socks and/or sprinkle cayenne pepper around your yard to discourage digging.

Start a nontoxic insect- control program (especially for grubs) to discourage digging.

Fences are effective as long as they are buried at least 1 1/2 feet in the ground.

Blow-up or plastic great horned owls may be strategically placed and periodically moved to deter skunks.

Lighting up of denning sites and a portable radio may cause the skunk to seek a more suitable habitat.

Keep fruit trees picked and don't leave rotted fruit on the ground.

Battery operated flashing lights, tape recorded human noises, scattered moth balls and ammonia-soaked rags strategically placed may deter skunks from entering your yard.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2007 at 9:08AM
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Thank you Skoot,

I have seen that advice, unfortunately it is not very helpful to me:

I don't have outdoor pets or pet food, no critters are invading my garbage cans, and I have no fruit trees (at least none that actually bear fruit).

I have no grubs in that yard, or at least I believe so since the grass over the spots that were attacked was dead for at least two months before I reseeded around Labor Day. The problem is earthworms, which I would not want to hurt anyway.

Besides, the idea of starting "non toxic" pest control by putting down extremely toxic mothballs and rags soaked in ammonia makes no sense to me at all.

I don't have any denning sites on my property. The big den is next door, under my neighbor's shed.

Maybe the lights and fake owls will work, who knows, I will try them out if Philes' Varmint Tea fails.

Thank you anyway for your advice!


    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 1:14AM
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I have heard that these things work for deer. Wonder if they would work for skunks? Might be worth a try.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 8:24AM
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Call the DNR.
I was going to write more, but that pretty much sums it up.
Call the DNR.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 9:18AM
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DNR? If that is like the local animal control office I tried them, they only deal with domestic animals.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 11:58AM
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I think DNR stands for Division of Natural Resources. In some states, it may be DWR (Division of Wildlife Resources) or something similar.

There may also be some companies that do professional animal control. There may be laws about what can and can't be done with different animals. For example, some animals can be killed, but others need to be relocated. If they need to be relocated, there is probably a minimum and maximum distance (not far enough and they'll just come back, too far and you may be disturbing their distribution). Also, some animals may not be much fun when trapped (a skunk would fall into this category IMO). The professionals know the laws and also know how to best set the traps, etc.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 12:44PM
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Thanks BP, I actually called a local trapping outfit. Law here is that trapped skunks must be killed because they can carry rabies. I'm not sure I understand that logic if you are talking about trapped, non-infected animals, but that is the law. I could live with that if we were talking about killing just a few of them and that being the end of the problem.

But my neighbor apparently has an affection for the skunks denning under his shed. I don't blame him for that, I myself never thought to harm any of them that have wandered into my yard over the last few years: ferocious odor aside, they really are sweet little animals that usually don't pose a threat to anyone. But anyway, I don't think I could talk him into letting me help with their removal (and destruction), and wouldn't want to try. So I am facing the prospect of paying a service to trap and kill skunks on a regular basis for as long as I live here. Could become very expensive, as once the current residents are gone the den will almost surely repopulate.

Another option would be for me to trap and kill them myself, but that is not something I would look forward to either. I have enough projects already, and would not want to have to explain what I am doing to my impressionable young son.

Sigh, sorry to go on and on, I just wish there were a simple solution.


    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 8:42PM
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Tak2w, thanks for the link! That may be worth a try.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 9:00PM
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