The Vole Hunt

Pity the vole that chooses my yard to explore.

Yesterday evening I was working on my computer in my home office. I heard some digging right against the outside wall. I peeked out the window. All I could see were two big Malamute butts with tails wagging, heads down and together, into a corner.

I knew immediately they'd found and trapped a vole. With most all the snow in the yard melted, there are few places for the voles to successfully hide.

I grabbed the camera and shot these photos. I took several of the girls with noses in the mud near some garden hoses, sniffing and digging and waiting. I hoped maybe the vole would escape. They'd been at it awhile already, without success.

I had just turned to walk back into the house (it was about 29F and windy, and I didn't have warm clothing on) when Maia suddenly jumped back from the house and spun. I yelled "Drop it!" instinctively, and sure enough, she'd caught the vole. Amazingly, she did drop it.

Both Maia and Meadow stared intently at the vole, a bit shocked, I think, that I would demand such an inexplicable thing!

The vole wasn't moving. Playing dead, to protect itself? I couldn't see any blood. Just this morning, I'd found Meadow guarding a dead vole in the yard; that one had a bloody open spot on one side. This vole, I couldn't tell. I photographed it.

I didn't want Maia to eat it, or Meadow to play with and guard it.

I grabbed both girls by the collars and led them back around to the sun room door and into the house. I could just imagine their indignation at being taken away from the scene of a successful hunt. "Humans can be so stupid sometimes."

Once they were in the house, I grabbed the shovel and went back. I half expected the vole to be gone, to have just been playing dead. But no, it really was dead. I scooped it up with the shovel and sent it flying over the fence and into the snow of the field. I hoped a red tailed hawk would find him before nightfall and make good use of the girls' hunting skills.

I returned to the house. Realizing that as soon as I let the girls out the door they would dash back to the spot of the hunt, I picked up my camera and set myself up as best I could to capture that dash.