On the Art of Being Still – And Eliminating Moles


I learned how to be STILL in church. I also learned how to be sneaky and get away with being touchy-feely with girls in church, but that’s a completely different story for another time.

Church in the South is not to be taken lightly. It happens multiple times per week and if you’re “lucky,” a traveling preacher will come to town and he (it was always a “he” then) held a revival, often in a tent, outside. Revivals lasted a minimum of three days and if the fervor was strong enough (or I suspect, the donations), it could go on indefinitely.

Our pastor liked the youth to sit in the front rows. No doubt, it was so he could adequately instill the fear of God in us. But, kids are nothing if not inventive and we turned sitting in the front row into a social status symbol rather than a burden. Anyone who was anyone sat in the front row and if you were “going with” someone, you sat with them and maybe you could hold hands without your parents being the wiser.

Whatever you did however, it had to be done quietly and with a minimum of movement. Limbs were moved slowly. Notes were passed on the down-lo’ from hand-to-hand while each human-child link in the note-passing chain kept eye contact with the pastor, never looking directly down at what was being passed. If you were the final recipient of said note, it was only under the most careful circumstances that you opened and read the note. That circumstance being that the pastor had turned away from you and was striding across the stage to address the far side of the church.

Experienced church-youth could recognize when the pastor’s voice was moving to a crescendo and it was only then that you could unfold your paper–or candy wrapper–so as not to be heard doing so. That was the only safe way to open and quickly scan what was so secretively delivered. Surely it was something juicy?

But over the years, I became adept at stillness. I could (and can) sit extremely still for long periods of time, as long as my environment is comfortable. I also developed this interesting “tunnel vision” whereas, if I stared ONLY at the preacher pacing across the stage, moving ONLY my eyes, everything else faded to black.

Little did I know how that training would benefit me as an adult. To this day, I use this technique in meetings at work when they last far longer than usefulness would dictate.

And I’ve found a new purpose for my abilities; “I’ve Got Moles.”

Moles/Voles, whatever you call them–they are, in fact, a bit of an epidemic on my street. As you walk along the sidewalk, you can’t help but see the tell-tale meandering, raised tunnels of slightly dead grass  where the moles have burrowed and the grass roots have begun to dry out and die off.

In the past, I have used varying methods of mole-control. I have the spike traps that you insert just over an active mole trail. The idea being that as they burrow under the trigger plate, it trips the spikes which slam down into the ground, spearing the mole.

I’ve never actually caught/killed a mole with one. I’ve come out of a morning and found them triggered, their spikes jammed into the soft earth, but upon pulling them up, found them empty as usual.

I’ve tried water hoses in their trails trying to drown them out (CaddyShack style). I’ve tried baits and poisons, to no avail.

But, I have a Weimaraner. Her name is “Shiner,” and as it turns out, she is the consummate mole hunter. In this picture, she’s happily sniffing the mole she killed. I’ve erased most of the gore, but you can clearly see the little feet. Like most hunting dogs, her natural instinct is to catch it and juuuuust bite down enough to break its back/neck. And then she’ll just carry it around, or put it down so everyone can admire her kill and praise her for her prowess.

(This is one of her kills. I erased the gore.)

Her only flaw is that she drools when she is close to her prey. This is particularly troublesome when she’s standing over a chipmunk burrow waiting for them to pop up. Her drool tends to fall straight down into the hole. Jig’s up.

But Shiner taught me how to use my ability for stillness, to take care of my mole problem far faster, and more simply, than any product on the market.

Here’s what Shiner and I developed.

  • Once you see mole tunnels, go ahead and tamp them down. You’ll typically find them in the morning, and more often after a good rain. Moles are looking for worms and wet soil makes for easier digging.
  • Now that you’ve tamped down the tunnel, periodically re-inspect the area for fresh tunnels. If you have the ability to check hourly, more the better.
  • As soon as you see a fresh tunnel, get a pitchfork.
  • Slowly and lightly approach the area and then squat down. This gives you a better view of the ground when it moves. And I firmly believe moles sense the vibration of you walking, and will freeze in response.
  • If the mole is there, after a few minutes you will see the ground heave slightly. Now, before you pounce, be sure and note the direction of the tunnel because you will need to move quickly and precisely.
  • As sure as you’re certain it’s there, jam your pitchfork as deep as it will go. Make sure and align the teeth of the pitchfork in the direction of the tunnel. Assuming you don’t pull up a stabbed mole, immediately begin poking your pitchfork into the ground to the right and left of where it was. They will run and you have to be quick.
  • IF you got it, one of three things will happen; either you pull it up on the end of your pitchfork and you’ll know; it will die quietly underground and you’ll never know it other than a lack of new tunnels; or it will come out of the ground some time later and die and you’ll find it.

It’s not glorious, but it works.

If left to her own devices, Shiner will sniff out the moles and dig until she finds them, destroying the yard in the process. Since moles can move quickly, I’ve abandoned trying to dig them out when we “find” them and instead, just try and kill them underground. Even if I were to get him out of the ground, I’d just have to later bury him anyway to prevent the dogs from rolling in it its decaying remains, so why not just kill it underground?

As I got older and moved away on my own, I often reflected on this ability I developed as a child, to remain so still. I thought about how I might have used it in the military, or the CIA. And then I remember how I have no composure when it comes to ant bites and I realize I would never make a good sniper where a pretty important skill is the ability to ignore everything happening to your body in order so you can remain perfectly still

No, I suppose I’ll have to be content using my powers in the lawn-maintenance realm and be satisfied. May what I’ve learned, help those who follow behind.


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