Only The Game Is Small

Written by Rob McCurdy in the Mansfield News Journal

Groff likes to get out and hunt

It may be called small game hunting, but to Mike Groff there’s nothing small about it.

“Some guys like to golf, and that’s cool, but my therapy is grabbing a gun or a fishing rod,” Groff said.

Big animals or small animals, it doesn’t matter what’s on the agenda.  The Mansfield resident simply loves the challenge, whether it’s taking a big-antlered buck in the woods or plinking a groundhog in a field from 700 yards away.

“It’s fun.  You’ve got no phones ringing.  It’s nice to see the sunrise and see what Mother Nature can do,” he said.

Deer gun season may be more than a month away, but that doesn’t stop Groff from enjoying his passion.  He merely scales down what he hunts for.

Squirrel season started Sept. 9 and runs through Jan. 31.  It’s a way for the 40-something hunter to get into the woods when he gets antsy with his work-a-day life as a car salesman.

“I get hungry for them about twice a year,” Groff said.  “I was told you shoot it, you eat it.”

He’s been hunting squirrel since he was 7 years old.

“The attraction to hunting, period, was that I was introduced to it by my dad, and he was an avid outdoorsman,” Groff said.  “Squirrel hunting is a very good way to introduce a small child or even a 70 year old to hunting.  You don’t have to be a marksman.”

He likes to head south of Mansfield in the fall when the nut crop is most abundant and so are the squirrels.

“It’s not hard to see a half-dozen or a dozen,” he said.  The daily bag limit is four and that includes gray, fox, and red squirrels.

Groff said squirrels have a tough hide and to get one cleanly, you have to be within 30 yards of the game.

That’s not the case with groundhogs.  He may be as far as 800 yards from his target when he takes aim and fires his large high-powered rifle.  He does this as a service to area farmers who want fields cleared of groundhogs because their holes can break the legs of cattle and their appetites can strip a bean field clean of its crop.

With permission, he parks his truck alongside a field and sets up his 45-pound rifle with sandbags.  Then he waits for the groundhogs to come out of hiding and cross the field.

Since there is no closed groundhog season, except during deer gun season, this is a yearlong outlet for him.

“I enjoy it now as much as I did when I was 10 years old,” Groff said.  “I enjoy the big stuff just because I don’t get to do it as much, but I enjoy it all.”

For more information on guided groundhog hunts, Mike Groff can be reached at 419-756-1640.  His e-mail address is info@ncovarmintexpress.com.  Also visit www.ncovarmintexpress.com.

Rob McCurdy can be reached at 419-521-7241.  His e-mail address is rob.mccurdy@thomnews.com.