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Gopher tale

By Staff | Sep 4, 2015

It was one of those moments when something that seemed unsolvable suddenly was easily solved and the barrier between the problem and the solution was almost nothing.

Through the summer we were being overrun with gophers in our yard.

All we had to do was look out the window and see two and three at a time throughout the day.

We even watched them play like children at a playground chasing each other through the grass.

I bought poison peanuts and placed them in the holes and that seemed to slow them down, but more drastic measures were needed.

I am not a hunter by nature so my gun collection is almost nonexistent. I have a shotgun I bought new in 1978 that has never fired a shot.


To thin out the gopher population I bought an air rifle or what I have known as a pellet gun.

The last time I fired a rifle that amounted to anything was in 1970 when I was in Army basic training using an M-16 and after that, a .45 pistol.

My sharpshooting skills were good, but not great.

What the Army did teach me was the need for sighting in my rifle. My newly purchased air rifle even came with a scope, something the Army did not provide me during training.

I understood the principles of windage and elevation so I set up a simple target using flattened cardboard box supported by two electric fence posts.

I used a marker with diagonal lines from the corners to create a letter X to be my target.

I was at a distance of not more than 25 feet and all my shots were high and to the right.

I started twisting the adjustment knobs but nothing changed. I moved in closer and still I was way off my target.

I had one knob screwed all the way in and the other almost all the way out with no change.

Did I get a defective scope? I gave up and decided I needed better help from someone who had more experience than me in sighting in a rifle.

My brother-in-law in Illinois hunts elk in Colorado every year. There’s my expert.

I took the air rifle along on a trip to visit my sister and brother-in-law last week so he could decide if it was me or the rifle that needed adjusting.

On a Saturday afternoon I handed the rifle to him and told him my problem.

He had a target mounted on a stake handy and he leaned it against a tree.He took three shots and sure enough, all the shots were high and to the right.

Adjustments were needed so he started twisting the two knobs on the scope until he was holding them in his hand.


Those were not knobs; they were covers over the actual adjustments to sight in the scope.

I had read the small and brief instruction book and it did not say, “Remove the covers over the adjustment screws to sight in the scope.”

Or in my case, “Remove the covers over the adjustment screws to sight in the scope, dummy.”

The needed adjustments were made and when we were done, the only hindrance to accuracy was the person holding the rifle.

Since my purchase of the pellet gun, the gopher population has gone down drastically without me firing a shot.

Maybe the gophers have predators around here.

Or maybe they heard about my skill with a pellet gun and died laughing.

Well, as long as they are gone.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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