'Something different': Groundhog story from Pontotoc County

By Galen Holley/NEMS Daily Journal

PONTOTOC – Thankfully for weather watchers it wasn’t Punxsutawney Phil, but James Montgomery killed a groundhog in the spring of 1985 while he was clearing land for The Meadows golf course in eastern Pontotoc County.
Wildlife experts say groundhogs are not indigenous to Northeast Mississippi, but this 7-pound female appeared on the sixth fairway and Montgomery, who was yards away talking with a neighbor, immediately noticed its strange gait.
“I’ve seen possums, beavers, cats and critters of all kinds, and I could tell this was something different,” said Montgomery, who saw the creature’s formidable claws and decided it had to go.
Taxidermist Jackie Russell in Pontotoc stuffed the groundhog, which Montgomery brought by the Daily Journal office on Tuesday, a day before the famous Punxsutawney Phil issues his annual forecast.
Montgomery said he’s gotten some kidding over the years about comparisons with the famous 1980 comedy “Caddyshack,” in which a gopher causes mischief on a golf course.
The Meadows closed almost a year ago, but the groundhog, which Montgomery never named, continues to provide an usual conversation piece in his home.
Contact Galen Holley at (662) 678-1510 or galen.holley@journanlinc.com.