When we embarked on this COVID summer project, we had no idea what an epic adventure it would become. 

Harry Potter vs Lord Voldemort; Superman vs Lex Luther; Batman vs the Joker; Captain American vs Red Skull – classic tales of good vs evil were about to be joined by Duane vs One-eyed Jack. 

Duane’s rat chronicles were now a saga complete with protagonist (Duane), antagonist (One-eyed Jack), and bard (Jeannine).

A chance meeting in February created One-eye Jack. Like Ultron or Syndrome, Duane had created his nemesis. But because Duane leans more toward the classics, Moby Dick may be a more apt comparison.

Our hero recounts:

“I named him One-eyed Jack because he had only one good eye. That made him recognizable among the tens of rats in the barn because only one eye reflected in the infrared illumination from the camera.

He never walked onto the trap door. He’d climb up the trap. He would perch aside the trap door and carefully pluck loose sunflower seeds laying on top.

He’d just sit there. Eating my sunflower seeds. And glares at the game camera.”

Phase II of our saga introduced the repeater trap. By this time, 25 rats had slid down the trap door to meet their end. But One-eyed Jack was not one of them. There were still plenty of rats left. At dusk, they would scurry under the chicken coop. Time for Phase III. 

Phase III involved the shotgun (using non-toxic shot of course).

Cool and calculating, Duane devised his latest assault. It would take place in rat alley – a corridor between the chicken coop and barn where the rats ran between buildings. He baited with a pile of sunflower seeds, sat in a lawn chair behind an upended wheelbarrow, and waited.

It only took 15 minutes on the first night – 3 rats with one shot!

And one of them was One-eyed Jack!

By mid-August, Duane had 39 confirmed rat kills. In the graph below the numbers represent the number of rats killed with each shotgun attempt.

The black lines represent the decline in sightings on the game camera. The blue line is the cumulative number of rats killed, with the numbers representing the number killed per shooting attempt.

It illustrates the true dedication of our protagonist to his cause, his mission, his calling!

If we assign 30 minutes to each night with the shotgun (even though the first night took half that time), we can see how catch per unit effort changed over time.

  • The first 7 rats took 12.8 minutes per rat killed.
  • The next 3 rats took 20 minutes per rat killed.
  • And the last rat took 180 minutes! 

Weary from his quest, Duane put down the shotgun. His effort and removals equated to going from 38 deer/mile2 to less than 5 deer/mile2.

But he is gaining ground. His index to abundance shows an unmistakable decline.

Time for Phase IV.

-Duane Diefenbach and Jeannine Fleegle

Posts in this series:
Diminishing Returns
A man, A plan, A rat
Phase II: A repeating trap

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