Case: Groundhog days can help you prepare for deer season

AP file photo by Julio Cortez / Groundhogs may be known to many for their weather predictions each February, but they are considered pests by most farmers and can serve as good practice for hunters to stay tuned up outside of deer season.

"Shoulder up your gun, and whistle up your dog,

Shoulder up your gun, and whistle up your dog,

Off to the woods for to catch a groundhog,

Oh, groundhog!" - Doc Watson version of traditional folk song "Groundhog"

I wish we had more groundhogs. Back in the day, and I am talking 40 years ago or more, we had lots (and I mean lots) of groundhogs, whistle pigs, woodchucks (this is probably a Native American derivation), whatever you want to call them. The groundhog was the main target for varmint hunters in the eastern United States. An entire culture of rifle shooters and gunsmiths revolved around this rodent that was loved by us, the long-range varmint shooters of that time, but by the farmers they annoyed, not so much.

For whatever reason, and no one seems to know, the number of groundhogs in my area fell off sharply several years ago.