A Jersey Devil

“Well, it’s Groundhog Day… again…” ~ Bill Murray, “Groundhog Day”

Yesterday, I had different post planned and was taking my daily walk/run around the property’s perimeter with Scout, our Rat Terrier.


Thomas has warned me on more than several occasions to always take my iPhone and a walking stick, to which I respond with my sheesh face which looks something like this.  : /    I am no delicate petunia. I am an experienced hiker, survived winter camping, and am aware that animals won’t bother you unless they are hungry or you are a threat. I felt pretty certain I would not run into a Great White Shark along my path. After all, I’ve had mice on me and been in close contact with snakes and bats. I am the person that stops traffic to move turtles, even snappers.

So, I was on my way with Scout, with no cell phone, camera in tow, and no walking stick, happily snapping photographs for the intended post and thanking God for his many blessings — the beautiful day, the abilities to walk and transport me to this magical place, to see the beauty before me, to hear the birds, to feel the warmth of the sun and to smell the scent of spring. It was another day to discover all life has to offer. I decided to create a wild flower bouquet.

As I’ve previously mentioned, there is an abundance of wildlife in the area. Halfway through our walk Scout paused and pointed, it was not a big deal. He does this often. But, when I heard a loud rustling in the brush I hesitated, considering what it might be—obviously it was too big for a bird or rabbit, perhaps it was an owl or deer.

Suddenly the largest ground hog (yes, I said ground hog) I’ve ever seen was staring us down, unafraid. He ran  to Scout who was actually smaller in size and started fighting. Fortunately Scout was much too fast for him and the groundhog couldn’t reach him.

Groundhog & Scout

Both of them were running down the path, toward the pond. I was sure the Ground Hog was going to seek refuge there, as they are known to be strong swimmers. I ordered my dog to back off and allow the animal time to disappear. We all had enough excitement for one day. I was even afforded the chance to take a few photographs. As it happened, the Ground Hog had other plans. It turned and focused on me.


“Seriously?” I thought,  “Dude, you may not know this but you are a ground hog. Seeing your shadow scares you back into your den.”  I considered the possibility, that perhaps I was wrong. Maybe it’s a badger? No, it’s ground hog, a ground hog on steroids–a Jersey ground hog. Swinging his clawed fists at me and showing his huge incisors, in full attack mode. I swung my expensive super duper camera at him in defense. He was not fazed.

Neither was I; I mean, how fast could he possibly run? I took off. After a few yards I looked back to see just how fast a ground hog could run, promptly tripped and fell to the ground. Lying there on the ground, my life flashed before my eyes. I heard Thomas’ instructions and wished I had listened. If only I had my phone I could call him at work for a final farewell. I looked up at the beautiful blue sky and white cotton candy clouds and noticed the turkey buzzards (aka vultures) circling. So this is how it ends, God? I will be ravaged by a rampant rodent with rabies, my remains left to be picked apart by a turkey buzzard? I knew I should have had Wheaties instead of Coco Puffs this morning.  At least when Thomas returns home from work and locates a few of my bones, the camera will hold the tell-tale evidence of who did me in. It’s odd what you think of, when you know your life is ending: “How will my blog reader’s know? Surely Thomas will do a post on this.”

groundhog running

Everyone has experienced OH SHIT moments. This was mine. The creature was about to leap onto me just when my faithful canine intervened and distracted him long enough for me to pull myself to my feet. Again, I wish I had listened to Thomas. If I had a walking stick I could defend myself from this beast. I had only a small bouquet of wild flowers in my hand. What was I going to do, toss petals at him and sing Kumbaya? Worth a try: “Someones angry my lord, Kumbaya.” It didn’t work. With no other option and just as he was about to grab hold of my leg with his death grip and take a chunk of it using those incredible teeth, I realized this was my moment–at last the years of martial arts lessons would finally pay off. I didn’t waste all that time after all. In short, I kicked him. Hard. I felt horrible doing it and still do. I don’t like to cause pain. Unfortunately, this groundhog had apparently been training longer than me and his response was proof positive I don’t like causing pain, because he didn’t feel any. He was only briefly stunned and then continued to chase us–the entire way to the road, a half mile unpaved road to hell. My beloved eagle sat on his perch watching. I prayed he would swoop down for some take out. But obviously, his money was on the Ground Hog.

Bruised and battered it is but for the grace of God that I am here today to share this story. Did I say groundhog? I meant black bear, er grizzly bear–yeah, that’s it…

Groundhogs are known to have aggressive personalities, and will fight to the death, preferably yours, if protecting a litter. Although I am making light of the incident, I was afraid my dog or I would be injured. Luckily, we weren’t bitten or scratched.  It’s a good reminder to keep your pet’s rabies vaccinations up to date.


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38 Responses to A Jersey Devil

  1. Rhonda @ BlueCreekHome April 21, 2012 at 11:32 pm #

    What a wonderful story!!! I know you were scared, or actually, I don’t think you were.
    This was the best short story I’ve read in a long time!!! I laughed, I winced, I was running with you, I fell with you – I am tired just reading it.
    I am glad you and Scout weren’t harmed and listen to Thomas from now on!

  2. Lynn @thevintagenest April 22, 2012 at 6:58 am #

    he/she was sick it sounds like. I have seen a few rabid animals wander through our property….just recently a fox. He actually walked right past my studio door. Thank goodness each time I have witnessed this, my dog was inside with me. I know this sounds weird but I always kind of feel sorry for the animal. Bobby G. has warned me too about carrying my phone with me when I walk the property, since there are no neighbors to yell out for. Once I witnessed a hostile deer during rutting season. Instead of running off at the first sign of me, he kept advancing closer and closer. Scared the heck out of me. So glad you are okay. Loved reading your story.

  3. Jennifer April 22, 2012 at 7:55 am #

    oh my word!!!! i loved the way you wrote that; hilarious! but i’m SO glad you came out of that ok! I saw the picture before I knew what it was and thought “bear?” Haha…he was HUGE!

  4. Alaina April 22, 2012 at 8:11 am #

    Deborah, I am glad you are not hurt, but I must say I had to laugh while looking at the photo of the ground hog coming right at you. Great pictures! I am betting you will no longer be found without the phone or stick. I hope the rest of your weekend is not so eventful.

  5. Lynnette April 22, 2012 at 9:27 am #

    I feel guilty saying this, but you had me laughing at this! I’m so sorry for your frightening experience … But thanks for the laugh!!
    Who woulda thunk!

  6. michelle Hughes April 22, 2012 at 9:56 am #

    oh my goodness! the story of a lifetime! I am so glad you and your sweet pup weren’t hurt!!

  7. Kathy April 22, 2012 at 10:31 am #

    Hahaha!!! I’m glad you are ok Deborah but it made for a great story. How did I miss that your dog’s name is Scout too?? I’m trying to catch up on my blogs this rainy Virginia morning. Hopefully I’ll even post a new one too. Thanks for the wonderful story and again I’m glad you fought off that furious beast!!

  8. Kim P April 22, 2012 at 12:39 pm #

    OMG! So funny and scary at the same time.
    Groundhogs (or, as we call them, woodchucks) can be very agressive when protecting their dens. You were lucky you didn’t get bit. That would have been very painful.

    Walking sticks and cell phones (and cameras) should be carried on every venture that involves leaving your yard. I live in an area where coyotes are just as common as woodchucks and wolves and bears are seen on occasion. My walking arsenal includes a walking stick, cell phone, camera and a pistol.

  9. emily April 22, 2012 at 12:58 pm #

    omg love the second picture of him charging you, so funny glad youre ok

  10. Sara S. April 22, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

    I’m so glad you and Scout are okay, but ha ha ha! You wrote that out so well….I was chuckling the whole time!

    Will you be taking your walking stick and phone next time?

  11. LindaG April 22, 2012 at 3:38 pm #

    We saw a groundhog that size here in Eastern NC last year, taking a back way from Raleigh.
    Easily the size of Punxatawney Phil.

    Glad you are okay, if a bit shaken. *hugs* ♥

  12. Autumn April 22, 2012 at 5:25 pm #

    I laughed soooooo hard. This is ME and my type of luck…or maybe my daughter’s!

    I am certain a visit with you would be right up my ‘animal whisperer’s alley and I could take photos of your antics!

  13. Stephenie from Decorating Addiction April 22, 2012 at 6:16 pm #

    Very well -written Deborah! You had me reading very quickly to find out what happened and laughing, yet nervous at the same time! Glad you and scout made it out okay!! Listen to Thomas next time and bring your phone!! :-)

  14. kathleen April 22, 2012 at 6:20 pm #

    I can’t believe that groundhog was out to get you, but I do believe it. I couldn’t read fast enough to find out what was going to happen next. So glad you and Scout are okay, and that you were able to outrun him/her for such a distance. She must have been with her babies, and that defense mechanism was on high alert.

    My butterfly bush is growing nicely – thanks to you!

  15. Laura Ingalls Gunn April 23, 2012 at 10:29 am #

    Oh my Lord! I am sitting here absolutely aghast! I was scared just reading this account. Scout is amazing. That ground hog was at least twice his size!

    I had NO idea they could be so aggressive. Sweet T has one in her large forest lined back yard in PA and he has always been pleasant.

    Personally if I knew it was going to be my last day I would choose the cocoa puff’s over the wheaties.

    As for the future, I see a nice ground hog roast and work on the Discovery Channel for you. :)

  16. Adrian April 23, 2012 at 11:07 am #

    OMG!!! Not funny….and yet the tears are pouring. Those photos are perfect! This is seriously one of the most bizarre small animal stories ever. Thank God your pup wasn’t injured. Those groundhogs can be killers when defending their dens. Remind me to tell you of how my son, Pearson was attacked by a 30 lb. rabid raccoon in Cheshire. My best friend was with him at the time or it would have killed him (he was 5). Just one of the perks of livin’ in the country:)

  17. Missy April 23, 2012 at 11:29 am #

    Hey sweet lady!! :) I’m glad you stopped by to check out my update on my window seat cause it made me stop and breath for a moment and come talk to you!! I miss our little twitter chats and emails….life has gotten WAY too busy! I hope you are ok after your near death experience with the crazy ground hog…I had NO idea a ground hog would chase a person OR A DOG! Oh my goodness…I think I’ll carry a big stick on my walks from now on!! 😉 I bet you take your own too..and your phone, Thomas is a smart man! :)
    I’m taking it easy today, I woke up with a terrible sore throat..I’m assuming it’s just drainage from this weird spring we’re having. One day it’s 80 and the next it’s 55….nights have been getting into the 30’s….my plants are so confused! lol I swear, the other day we had the heat on that morning and air conditioner that same afternoon…weird I tell ya! :)
    Love ya much and miss you like crazy! (but I have been reading your blog on my phone, it’s just so hard to comment on that tiny little screen!) We we’ve been gone and I used my phone to do everything….I’ve determined I need glasses. :)


  18. lisa moran/Bilancia Designs April 23, 2012 at 11:57 am #

    OMG! Deborah!
    I am ashamed to say I was laughing hysterically at your incredible story, but clinging to my seat at the same time, wondering “WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT??????”
    What a story!!!
    That was one HELL OF A GROUNDHOG! What is that thing eating to make it so large??? We have quite a few in our neck of the woods here and we laugh at their chubby bodies waddling around…but this one looked more like a badger to me.
    Thomas must have done an “I told you so” as a future warning to NEVER go exploring without protection of any kind. I’m afraid to say this time it was an animal…but next time it could be a person. You HATE to think that way, but today anything can happen and maybe THIS was a warning (I know… it’s so terrible to think that way).
    …..And if I had to choose my last breakfast….hmmmm….a chocolate cake with buttercream frosting, prepared by your daughter’s excellent culinary skills sounds much better than boring cereal. :)
    What a story! Think I’ll forward this to many of my VERY fearless friends who live in or near the woods with their brave and carefree “not me” attitudes…
    Ya never know…
    SO HAPPY you’re ok! xo

  19. Beth@AtoZ April 23, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

    What in the world??? First of all, I am so glad you & your pup are okay. Secondly, we have groundhogs EVERYWHERE around here and I had NO idea that they could be aggressive. Someone once warned me that they were, but I daily walk by them with my pup and kids and they are always fearful and run back into there holes. I won’t have the same blase’ attitude towards them any longer. And I might just start donning a stick! Lastly, that groundhog was indeed ginormous!! I’ve never seen one that big before :). Hilarious story—but only because you made it out alive.

  20. Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality April 23, 2012 at 6:58 pm #

    Hi, Deborah! Wow, what a harrowing story. You sure know how to tell a tale well, I was right there with you. So glad it turned out well and you didn’t get eaten by a ground hog. Scary!! xoxo

  21. Angie @ Beneath the Magnolias April 23, 2012 at 11:24 pm #

    I’m laughing so hard! I totally thought you were going to get bit in your story. I was on the edge of my seat there for a minute. I kept thinking RABIES! But I certainly am glad you are okay. You do tell a great story. :)

  22. Kelly @ Eclectically Vintage April 24, 2012 at 10:45 am #

    Only in Jersey! I am laughing my #*@ off reading this!

    Sorry – laughing at your terror isn’t right (but yet it is)!

    So glad you lived to not only tell the tale but to take some fabulous pics while fleeing this rabid creature!

  23. Melisaa April 25, 2012 at 2:21 pm #

    Holy cow!! I mean, groundhog. Now I’m gonna have nightmares. So glad you lived to tell the funny and frightening tale!!!

  24. Celeste April 25, 2012 at 9:11 pm #

    Oh my word, Deborah! That is both horrifying and hilarious and I’m so glad you lived to tell about it! My girls really enjoyed it too. ☺

  25. Maureen April 26, 2012 at 8:30 am #

    Deborah! Ohhhhhhh Emmmmmmmmm Ggggggggggggg! I had goosebumps up my arm reading up until the part where you fell. Holy smokes. I am so glad you’re okay. We have quite a bit of wildlife behind us (even a bear made an appearance a few years ago). It can be some scary stuff. So, cell phone and walking stick from now on, right?!?!

  26. thistle April 26, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

    Oh my goodness! I am so glad you made it. Your dog sounds llike a wonderful protector!


  27. Legacy of a Single Girl April 27, 2012 at 2:29 am #

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! First, I’m glad you and your pooch are okay. But seriously! This is the best thing I’ve read in a while, and BOY did I need the entertainment!! Holy SMokes! Ground Hog my tush! I’m thinkin’ midget grizzly!!!!!!!!

  28. Zuzu April 28, 2012 at 10:15 am #

    :/ !!!

    Glad you and Scout are OK.

    This is unbelievable! I’ll have to join you in carrying a big stick. Never know when I might run into a savage chipmunk. Never saw or heard of anything like this before!

    Take care my friend!

  29. Maggie April 28, 2012 at 8:39 pm #

    So glad you are ok, but OMG! I would of had to change my drawers when I got home! Who would of thunk a cute little groundhog could turn into the Jersey Devil! I could just imagine how you felt! Glad Scout is ok and that you had him with you. I swear you should write for a living. You can make a story come alive! I just love reading your posts.

  30. Debbie refreshrestyle April 30, 2012 at 10:40 pm #

    I am sorry I laughed a little. Thank you, I will not walk without my cell phone and at least a big stick. This is one wild experience!!! I’m glad you’re ok.

  31. Debbie refreshrestyle April 30, 2012 at 10:46 pm #

    Ps. I shared this on my Facebook page :)

  32. Kathy May 7, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

    Oh my! What a story – what an experience! Never knew they could be that way! So glad you’re o.k.!

  33. Victoria June 1, 2012 at 8:42 am #

    I hope you didn’t get too banged up on that fall. What a crazy story Deborah I am glad that you didn’t get hurt and hope that scout got a hefty milk bone as repayment for his services! :)

  34. Kim @ The Twice Remembered Cottage June 16, 2012 at 1:04 pm #

    Oh, Deborah! This post is a classic! I am so, so glad that you and Scout are fine – that really could have ended badly. :( I feel better knowing now that you’ll probably be carrying a stick and phone with you from now on. But I laughed so much! I had to read this aloud to my girls after I read it because we have a special appreciation for groundhogs around here. Living under our shed for years has been a family of groundhogs {not to be confused with the feral cats living under our house:) } Each year they have a new litter and it’s always so sweet to see the babies emerging in the spring. It’s something we eagerly anticipate. HOWEVER, we will definitely be more mindful now after reading your post!

    As an aside, it IS the funniest thing to have one come up on the deck and look in your through your french door. Funny creatures!

  35. Kim @ The Twice Remembered Cottage June 16, 2012 at 1:08 pm #

    P.S. Shortly after I read this to the girls, I heard my my teen from another room say in amazement, “I didn’t know groundhogs could be so vicious!”

  36. Kim P April 12, 2013 at 6:45 pm #

    I thought about you when I read this story.
    I’m beginning to think the little brown beasts have passed a zero-human-tolerance law.

    • Deborah April 13, 2013 at 1:14 pm #


  37. Aaron May 8, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

    Groundy’s are hearty animals,and rarely fall prey to dieases,other than scabies of the pelt.. Two to one,that was Mom giving you a gentle reminder to back away from the nest slowly.

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