Groundhogs are some of the best species to have during the summer season. Turkey’s done and the deer season is still for the autumn. Also called woodchuck, these animals belong to a group of large ground squirrels referred to as marmots. The young groundhogs are chucklings, and there are also marmots that live in the mountainous and rocky areas.
Groundhogs fast facts
Scientific name: Marmota monax
Habitat: central and eastern U.S., Alaska, and Canada
Average size: 20″ long with 6 to 7″ tail, 6-12 lbs.
Lifespan in the wild: 3-6 years
Characteristics: Brown fur, round body with a tiny bushy tail, short, strong legs with curved claws for burrowing purposes; tiny, round eyes and ears on top, two long, continually growing incisors
The first tip for hunting groundhogs successfully is timing. They tend to hibernate early in late August if nights cool down. They emerge from their homes, the burrows, to start churning in food once winter is gone. Position yourself in soybean fields, the prime locations until such time when plants get too high and can no longer have these hogs. The hayfields are also promising areas.
The crops and their growing cycles also play an important role in finding a great deal of these groundhogs. You may choose to concentrate efforts in both these areas in the early summer before the plants even get taller.
The gear is the next consideration to think about. Look for the guns that will combat wind and trajectory. Instead, groundhog hunters of today should favor bolt-action centerfires in various chamber ranges. You can try using the .204 Ruger, and .223 Remington.
Then, comes your approach. Hunters of groundhogs will need to make their way alongside the edges of fields, and the paths of the tractors. They also have to ensure that fencelines are scanned for irregularities. This general tip also goes and is applicable for rocks and dirt from a hole freshly dug.
Experienced hunters would usually move slowly, stopping frequently, and aiming at the right targets. There are times when the groundhog tears back to the security of the burrow once the hunger gets within 250 years from it. Take note of this mentally.
Braised Groundhog Recipe
Here are the ingredients:
- 1 five- to six-lb. groundhog, cut into 6 serving pieces
- 1 ¾ cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 2 tbsps. extra-virgin olive oil
- ¾ stick unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
- 2 medium-sized onions, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
- 2 ½ cups dry white wine
- ⅓ cup Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup whole grain mustard
In cooking and making the recipe, patience is key.
- Rinse the groundhog, removing fats and cutting out the glands beneath the front legs and armpits. Pat the meat dry.
- Use 1 tbsp. Kosher salt to season the groundhog meat, and 1 tsp. pepper.
- Then, heat the oil using a large skillet, browning the meat in batches. Do this accurately for about five minutes for each batch, before transferring the meat into a medium-sized pot. Reserve the skillet and add your broth to the pot.
- Pour off any remaining fat from the skillet, before adding the onions, garlic, thyme, and three tablespoons butter while cooking over medium heat. This shall be stirred and scraped using brown bits until onions become softened. It will take around five minutes.
- Spend eight minutes adding the wine and boil until the liquid reduces in half.
- Pour this tasty, aromatic mixture over the groundhog. Cover the pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Then, braise your hog until very tender. This process takes around two hours.
- Transfer the meat to your serving dish, and keep it warm.
- Boil the liquid inside the pot, and reduce it to around three cups, prior to whisking in the mustards.
- Remove the pan from the heat, and add your remaining butter, swirling the pot until thoroughly blended. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, and pour over the groundhog. That’s a nice forest-y recipe to enjoy with the family.