Minden Press-Herald

Sep 30th

Counting on fake snake to save huckleberries

About this time last year, I wrote about finding a couple of huckleberry bushes in my yard; had no idea what they were until I got to checking out their berries, sampled a couple and the light came on in my noggin.

They were huckleberries just like the ones my mom used to pick and make the absolute best cobblers I ever tasted. I declare those huckleberry cobblers are right up there with those made with Mitcham's best peaches.

My brother, a retired forester, suggested that I fertilize the bushes and they should produce even better this year. Following Tom's advice, I sprinkled 13-13-13 liberally around the drip line of three of the bushes and he was right; they're loaded down with berries this year.

Every morning, I go out to see some of them starting to ripen; purple globes of tangy sweet huckleberries. I can almost taste that first cobbler in a few weeks.

One morning last week, I looked out to see branches on the largest of the bushes shaking. There was no wind so I knew it had to be a critter of some kind. Then a mockingbird flew out of the bush, purple juice dripping from its beak.

If you've read many of my columns, you know I love birds; love to watch them, identify them, photograph them. I was faced with a problem – how was I going to raise a crop of huckleberries and compete with a hungry bird who apparently loves them as much as I do?

Trapping the mocker and moving him elsewhere was out of the question – my wife loves to hear the sweet little berry thief perched on the uppermost branch of a sweet gum in the yard, singing its little heart out. I think she loves the bird more than I love my huckleberry cobbler.

I shared my dilemma with my sister, Linda, who has experienced similar situations in that she lives in the country and raises a variety of fruit trees.

"Get a rubber snake and put it in the huckleberry bush; be sure it has big yellow eyes. Birds are afraid of snakes and they won't come near your huckleberries," she advised.

I didn't have a rubber snake handy at the moment and had no trip to town planned anytime soon so I improvised. I used a red striped bungee cord, glued a red fishing bobber for a head and added some pieces of yellow foam for eyes.

Satisfied that my efforts would keep the mocker away, I walked back to the house, turned to look out the window and bless your heart, that mockingbird was scarfing down huckleberries six inches from the business end of my fake snake.

That afternoon, I made a special trip to a dollar store in town and found just what I was looking for – a genuine fake snake made of real rubber that should do the trick. I even bought a pack of "googly eyes", picked out a couple of scary looking ones, glued them on and secured it to the huckleberry bush.

I can report that after a full day, I haven't seen the mockingbird in my huckleberries.

Should the fake snake not keep the bird away, I supposed I'll have to set a trap, bait it with ripe huckleberries, catch the thief and release him somewhere else. As for my wife, I'll just try to find her a CD of mockingbird music so she can listen while I enjoy me some huckleberry cobbler.

Glynn Harris Outdoors is proudly sponsored by DSK, Ltd. of Minden.






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