Friday, August 5, 2011

Racoon story

This really isn't a story, it's a true tale.

Tonight dark was just settling in under the trees in the back yard when Willow and I arrived home with groceries. Willow's sharp eyes noted movement in the goose pen. "the raccoons are back, " she said.

"no it's a skunk."
"Skunks don't climb trees."

"Is it a possum?"

"Stay in the car a minute," I said.

"OMG it's a baby raccoon with a peanut butter jar stuck on it's head!"

I ran over to the tree and it was just out of reach as I hesitated a brief moment before reaching out to grab it. I watched as it climbed thirty feet up in the maple tree, wondering how it could manage the climb with a jar stuck on its head.

I knew I had to get it out of that tree. The orphaned baby coons had been eating the residue of grain in the goose feeder; a week or so back we put some grain in the woods on a rock hoping to see the orphans through a tough spot- but not encourage them to go into the goose pen. I went into the house and grabbed a can of goose grain, shook it below the treed baby coon to get its attention, poured it on the ground, and returned to wait in my now dark car.

I didn't have long to wait, the goose at his water bucket honked in alarm at the unlikely sight of a peanut butter jar on the head of a raccoon coming down a tree, and retreated. I waited, straining my eyes in the dim light trying to see if the coon had retreated into the woods or came on for the bait of goose grain.

I saw a wobbly peanut butter jar come around the tree and quietly opened the car door, figuring the jar was probably muffling the hearing and eyesight of the raccoon, and slowly advanced. Either they have exceptional eye-sight, or it had done an excellent job of cleaning the bottom of the jar clear, because it saw me and could climb the tree surprisingly fast with the jar on his head. He was just at arm's length as I reached the tree, and this time I didn't hesitate but went straight for the scruff of the neck and the raccoon was NOT pleased about that!

Raccoons can make a surprising array of sounds. This one was growling sort of like a cat and a dog and a bear all put together, and it was wet from an earlier downpour. Either it had been sprayed by a skunk or they have fear musk glands, because it stank. As I dragged it off the tree, it tried desperately to bite me, but it had the jar on his head.

So I have this wet stinky growling hissing struggling raccoon by the scruff with the jar on his head and I realize I have to get the jar off and maybe I am not holding him high enough and once the jar is off it is going to bite the hell out of me, and it smells skunky so does that mean it has rabies? No, not too likely since it was going for the food.

Then I wonder if it is going to claw me as I try and change my grip a bit higher on its neck so I can get the jar off, and I realize it is tugging at the jar with both paws cause it has realized it can't defend itself with the jar on its head.

and then I am holding it and the jar is off in its paws and it is turning to really get a good look at me and I quickly tossed it away a couple feet and right as it landed it regained its feet and charged me and I ran.

Mission accomplished.