Friday, February 19, 2010

A Moment of Silence For Friend Possum

Last Evening I had to deal with an intruder, a thief in the night. In this case it was an old, cranky possum. Wild beasties in the woods Helene and I accept and even embrace. That's part of the joy of living in the country. The problem was this old boy wasn't in the woods. He was on the covered porch cleaning up cat food.

I found him when I went out to dip candles (I will talk about that another day) sitting on the table where we feed the porch cats. He glared at me and kept eating. I could see why, this was one of the biggest possums I had ever seen. Half again bigger than the porch cats, and we are talking Texas Farm Cats here. Peppy, who would give Harry Dresden's "Mister" a run for his money was having nothing to do with him.

Bear, the Sheppard/Rott puppy Helene got me for Christmas, was more than ready to take charge. Bear is the new hire at HomePlace and eager to prove himself. He isn't full grown but thinks he's the size of a draft horse, and if his feet are any indication he may make it. I love Bear's willingness but in D&D terms he has strength second to none and intelligence of almost one!

Now if you folks know posseums you know they have teeth and claws and are more than willing to use both. They can be rabid, and even if they are not the bites and scratches can cause infections. Not to mention they hurt like hell in addition to the physical damage they can cause. This guy had the look of a mean drunk looking for a fight. I wasn't eager for any of us to experience that first hand.

Now I know some of you are saying "Why not just run him off?" Did you catch the 'mean drunk looking for a fight' part?

Truth be told, as hardnosed as I try to present my self, I had tried to run him off two nights earlier. He and I scared the daylights out of each other when I came on him while collecting laundry. If I hadn't dropped the laundry basket between us when I reached for the broomstick to run him off with it could have been ugly. The problem is once they learn food is available they will keep coming back. Now he sat at the cats dish glairing at me as if to say "I would have seconds when you have time."

Since he was on the porch I stepped into the house and got the old Winchester 69A .22 my Dad taught me to shoot with. I wanted something that would stay in friend possum. I also wanted something that shot strait enough to put him down instantly. I wanted to take him out but didn't want him to suffer. One shot and it was all over. The cats were gone and Bear wanted to know what he had missed.

This happens about half a dozen times a year. It isn't all bad news. Half the time the intruders are raccoons and they end up in the freezer. Waste not, want not. I wonder how one cooks possum?


  1. You did what had to be done, once the critters move in they think they own it all.

    That's a fine looking old rifle you have there.

  2. I actually had a Possum charge me after I put some number six shot in him. It took many rounds to finally kill him. Amazing critters at times. I hate to kill them these days but if they come around the house and get in my garage they get zapped.
    I tried to skin and clean the first one I killed to try and bake him and found him about as wrenchingly foul smelling as you can imagine.

  3. Thanks Zack, this old Winchester bolt action .22 and Dad's 1894 30-30 are his only two firearms still with us. His Winchester Model 12 left with some jerk that broke into my brothers house years ago. I still put both of them to good use.
    Welcome to Gary from Kansas. Thanks for comment and I hope it's the first of many. Like you I would prefer to leave the beasties go their own way, but if they are on the porch or messing with the chickens or rabbits their toast. If we find them on the wild part of the property I usually don't mess with them, even the snakes.
    Prepairing game meet is a bit different from processing farm animals. I know the biggest thing is to dress them out at once, and them put the meat in ice and salt water to draw out the blood. This is true be it raccoon, rabbit or deer.
    If I come up with a good way to deal with possum I will post it.

  4. OK, big he-man hunter. How's about the blood stains on the porch and table? I didn't shoot it, dear. Yeah, yeah, I know ... ambiance.

  5. I understand the desire to get rid of a problem opossum, it's raccoons around here, but you don't have to worry much about them being rabid. Their low metabolism makes it difficult for the rabies virus to survive, so it is very rare. Oh, and I really like that rifle.

  6. My father told me they were greasy. (Just a bit of insight to depression era Texas that I hadn't known.)

  7. I had talked to the local game warden about raccoons and he said the same thing about their not being rabid. Good to know as many of them we have around here.
    In addition to the one's on the porch I put a couple of live traps out around the chicken pens from time to time. One empty penut butter jar + one live trap = raccoon in the freezer!
    I have been shooting that little single shot winchester at least 50 years starting when my Dad taught me. All of the kids have shot it, including now grand kids. It's still as accrate as ever.
    Thanks speaking up Sherm and welcome. I'm going to guess your talking about possum being greassy. I have heard that too but it could be how the meat was prepaired for cooking.
    I would ask a favor as you mention you father and depression era Texas. My wife, Helene, has been collecting "Hard time meals" recipes (can you tell I can't spell?). If your father had any other wisdom to share on the subject I know she would be grateful.

  8. Most of the recipes I've come across seem to agree on boiling the critter, with some going so far as to suggest that you ought to soak it in salt water overnight. Some suggest removing the fat, as this can apparently convey a gamey, greasy flavor. There seems to be a considerable tradition of eating these things in the Southern USA, so they're probably not completely unpalatable. They're supposed to go well with potatoes.

    Here was the most helpful link I could scare up: