How Much Alfalfa Could a Rockchuck Chuck?

By Gary Lewis

Gary Lewis Books and DVDs


Oxford American defines it to throw carelessly or casually, to give up, to resign, to touch playfully under the chin, to throw away. Both noun and verb, 'chuck' is also slang for food.

Directly beneath chuck are chuckhole, chuckle, chug, chukka and chukker. In case you have not cracked a dictionary lately, chukka is a boot and chukker is not a bird, it is a period of play in polo.

My presence on this hunt west of Prineville was purely academic. Having already received an answer to the age-old query – how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood – I hoped to answer the agricultural question.

How much alfalfa could a rockchuck chuck if a rockchuck could chuck alfalfa?

We chugged onto the property in Charlie Stevens' old Ford and used our chukkas to hoof it into the field, where we concealed ourselves behind irrigation wheels.

Rockchuck trails led from every sandy spot, every hole, every rocky outcrop into the alfalfa. The green was nibbled to brown for the first 20 yards. Flat as a polo field full of knee-high alfalfa, the ground was so full of chuckholes, you could not have played a whole chukker without breaking a horse's ankle.

Mike Jones' 17 Remington shattered the stillness and a yellowbellied marmot tumbled down in a trail of dust. Charlie's 22-250 spoke. Someone chuckled.

Mike's Remington sounded again. I tried to be happy for them. That's when I saw movement on an outcrop 150 yards away.

The head and shoulders of a chuck appeared as he surveyed safe passage into the feeding fields. Not today. I set down my 10-power Alpens and eased the rifle into position.

This one was 150 yards out, uphill. I set the crosshair at the base of his chin and tightened up. A 100-grain round from the 250 Savage chucked him off his perch.

When evening came, 19 chucks had fallen to the 250 Savage and one had resigned to a 20-grain payload from my playful 17HMR.

I collected the empty cases that had collected around my knees and walked back to the truck. How much alfalfa can a rockchuck chuck? There is more research yet to do.

Gary Lewison

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