1:43 a.m. I wake up. My dog is pacing, wants out. She's standing with her head cocked, listening at the open window. I listen too. There is splashing coming from the back yard.

I feel in the dark for my flip-flops with my bare feet, connect. Rush downstairs, careful to lock my dog in the bedroom behind me. Hurry into the laundry room, flick on the light (ouch, bright), and search for the flashlight. Find it behind an old coffee cup full of writing utensils and screwdrivers. Test it. Dim, but will suffice.

I step outside into the warm summer night. The splashing is louder, and there is a smell of wet earth. I tread cautiously toward the sound, dim flashlight leading the way. Shine across wisteria and ferns, catch a pair of eyes looking back at me. I grab the hose, turn it on full blast. Spray the eyes. They move to the left. My left. I move the hose to the left, adjust the nozzle from Shower to Jet. Spray the eyes. They are unwavering.

I move closer, light grows stronger. Body revealed. Plump, healthy, 35-40 pounds. Striped fur, long bushy tale. Unafraid. I step closer. It stays. More splashing. Move flashlight further left. Another pair of eyes, watching me, but ever working those tiny black hands, moving rocks, pulling water lilies, eating my beloved goldfish, eyes never leaving mine. I aim the hose, pulling the trigger as far back as it will go. Masked bandit shifts position, but stays in the pond, feasting, taunting, looking curiously at this human offering it a good strong shower.

This isn't going to work.

I shut off the hose, retreat, head to the tool shed. Eye shovels, hand clippers, rakes, an axe. Could I? No. I choose the heavy rake. One of those used for tilling soil, not for raking leaves. Turn heel, head back to the pond. Still there. Slightly nervous now. I direct rake in front of me, like a knight going to battle. They retreat. Scurry over the 6-foot fence.

I've won.

I turn on flip-flopped heel to return rake to shed. Halfway there, I hear something. Splashing. What the...?!? Spin around, back to the pond. Flashlight again catches eyes. I grab a rock, throw, miss by a longshot. Grab another. Miss again. This one hits the wooden fence, cracks loudly, just below my neighbor's bedroom window. Oops. No more rocks. I raise rake again, move forward. Raccoon scurries again to top of the fence. Sits. Stares. I move closer, waving the rake. Unwavering. I close the gap. It stares, defiantly. Where's your friend? I fear being attacked from behind. Just about to connect rake to raccoon, it jumps, into neighbor's yard.

Triumph. I retreat towards house again. Ten steps. Fence noise. Whip around. There it sits, watching. Anger builds. I wave the rake again. It disappears. I wait in the dark. Half a minute. Quiet. Helicopter somewhere in the neighborhood. I feel safe. Shine light on pond. Decimated. Muddy, stinking water. Water plants shredded and floating, torn and strewn. I wonder how many casualties. Wonder if they got Blaine, the four-year-old bullfrog we got as a tadpole. Wonder how many fish.

Walk away. Sad, angry. Sympathetic. Raccoons need to eat too.

Get back in the house. Pet anxious dog. Wonder if I should let her out. Remember the time she fought one until she bled. That one was big. 60 pounds. As big as she was. And stubborn. Neither one was backing down. Pet her one last time, kick off flip-flops, settle back into bed. Stare at ceiling, recap.

Noise in the back yard. Splash.

Sigh. I think about the netting we use to cover the apple tree to protect our crop from squirrels.

Get back up, head to garage. Move bikes and golf clubs and gallons of paint. Discover roll of netting hiding by the camping equipment. Grab it, hurry to the back yard. Reclaim rake and flashlight. Head to the pond, repeat knight method. Unroll netting, clumsily try to cover the 4x5 foot pond with rake and flashlight still in hand. Glance up. Raccoons sit on fence, watching. I curse. Search for rocks to secure netting. Step in dog poop. Curse again. Find a rock. Glance up. There they sit, curious, patient.

Netting looks good. I scare off head raccoon again. Could have whacked it pretty good this time, but I don't. Damn sympathy.

Head back inside. Repeat process of staring at ceiling, processing experience. Close eyes, start to drift. I hear voices, tiny little curious raccoon voices. Ruckus. Then splashing. Get up and close the window, lay back down, pillow over head.

I give.

Comments

Grasca July 15, 2010 @ 7:52 a.m.

We had some almost ripe grapes on vines which were to be picked the next day at the height of their perfection. During the warm summer night I heard scuffling outside. When I turned on the light, 4 very large raccoons were eating the grapes. I tried to scare them off with more light but they did not budge. When their midnight snack was over, they lumbered off into the neighborhood. The ones I saw that evening had to weigh at least 25 pounds and were absolutely fearless.

0

Grasca July 15, 2010 @ 8:20 a.m.

A neighbor had a cat door at his house. When he went to the kitchen to get a drink at night, he encountered on large raccoon eating his cat's food. The neighbor hopped up on his kitchen counter and waited until the raccoon ambled away and left through the cat door. Needless to say that was the end of the open door policy.

Over the years I tried to keep goldfish in an outdoor pond. I have given up for the obvious raccoon reasons. Not only do they eat the fish, they knock over the aquatic plants and make a huge watery mess for me to clean up. Anyone who has koi must need to protect them with a screen from these fish eaters. And I am not even sure if this would work as the raccoons have very good working front paws that look like little hands.

The raccoons seem seasonal or at least are more of a presence in the summer months. I give them a wide berth at all times due to their sharp claws, bad manners, and fearlessness.

0

SurfPuppy619 July 15, 2010 @ 8:36 a.m.

A neighbor had a cat door at his house. When he went to the kitchen to get a drink at night, he encountered on large raccoon eating his cat's food. The neighbor hopped up on his kitchen counter and waited until the raccoon ambled away and left through the cat door. Needless to say that was the end of the open door policy.

LOL...and don't get them mad, they have big teeth and claws and very fiesty attitudes....

0

Grasca July 15, 2010 @ 8:50 a.m.

The resident spouse tried to save his grape crop with a blast of water that night. I had forgotten that part of the story. All he got was a beady stare from our four midnight snackers and a lot of frustration.

I am not sure if raccoons will eat fruit off the trees. I don't believe this has happened yet at our house. Raccoons are the biggest carriers of rabies if I remember correctly so that is another good reason to leave them alone.

I have heard of people keeping a raccoon as a pet. I will stick to keeping them far far away from me and hoping the Davy Crockett hats come back into fashion.

0

nan shartel July 15, 2010 @ 9:42 a.m.

dem bandits is fearless and they don't take no for an answer...when i lived in Oregon at the beach they opened my storage door and ate all my dog food

when i put a lock on that door they came to the front door and knocked to request another meal

hahahahaahahahaha...true story

0

nan shartel July 15, 2010 @ 9:44 a.m.

raccoons r omnivorous...they will eat anything...but like to wash their food first

fastidious bandits...hahahahahaha

0

Grasca July 15, 2010 @ 10:15 a.m.

Sometimes the little or no so little bandits come up on my deck and use the outside water dish to wash their paws. You can see their prints on the wood and gauge the size of the night visitors.

We were visiting friends in Julian one summer. After a peaceful walk in the woody hood, everyone was relaxing inside the cabin. It was dark and still until a god awful racket started up on the roof.

Upon close inspection with a powerful flash light we saw numerous raccoons having a big fight. It went on until it was over because as some of us know, raccoons leave when raccoons want to leave and not one minute sooner.

0

nan shartel July 15, 2010 @ 10:30 a.m.

OMG Grasca...Raccoon fights...i wish u had a video of that...were any bets made...even i didn't realize what interlopers they were

now if u could have just gotten a written contract with them for the fights u could brought those fights to the raccoon fight fans and made some money by them betting on their all too impetuous behavior...dang them!!!

0

nan shartel July 15, 2010 @ 10:32 a.m.

i never saw a raccoon in Oregon bigger then about 30lbs

0

Grasca July 15, 2010 @ 12:49 p.m.

The Julian raccoon encounter was over 20 years ago when video was not that common.

0

_Spark_ July 15, 2010 @ 2:02 p.m.

60 pounds may be exaggerating. I'm not a good judge of weight. Or age. Howev the monster was as big as my dog, who is 65 lbs. Regardless, thank you all for your comments. I think I'll keep my distance from now on and let them have their summer night romp. Or get rid of the pond. :(

0

Grasca July 15, 2010 @ 2:52 p.m.

If you keep fish out of the pond as I have, the problems will decrease. Occasionally a raccoon will leave evidence (paw prints) of a midnight drinking bout. I have had gophers also drown in my pond. I guess that the water attracts thirty varmints. Over the years I have seen opossums, skunks, coyotes, and a red tailed fox in the neighborhood. Red shouldered and red tailed hawks plus kestrels and hummingbirds are also around on a regular basis. Once a swarm of bees came up from the canyon and stayed for about a day on a large bush. Then they moved on to a new location. That was impressive to say the least.

0

Robert Johnston July 15, 2010 @ 3:26 p.m.

Considering that the raccoon is the second-biggest member of the weasel family (the wolverine is the biggest)? It's no wonder that they are nasty, opportunistic, and considered varmints by both landowner and farmer alike.

Also, like coyotes, the raccoons here have become "urbanized." They have lost their fear of humans, and see our backyards as a "free banquet." Why forage for acorns, mice, and other "wild food," when there is plenty of koi, doggie kibble, housecats, food plants, and other stuff ripe-and-free for the taking?

A "free bath" will not drive them off. Bright lights only results in a staredown between you and the raccoons. Watching them pillage what is yours is not cute...rather maddening, in fact.

My father had raccoons on his property in Mill City, and they made the mistake of going after some rabbits his ladyfriend was raising as pets. Next night, the raccoons returned to the "scene of the crime," hoping to score a free meal. They only "scored" getting whacked with a few rounds of #6 shot from my father's Remington 870 shotgun.

However, he lives in Mill City, Oregon. If he were to do that here in San Diego County, he'd be in the county lockup, his shotgun confiscated...and the rabbit hutches vulnerable to another round of predation-by-raccoon.

Something to think about.

--LPR

0

nan shartel July 15, 2010 @ 4:03 p.m.

yah LPR...laws r different in Oregon...and the Raccoons know it

u mean they tore the Rabbit cages open to get at them???

they wander around our mobile park coming up from the stream every nite...along with skunks possums and rabbits ...peeps here feed them

my wee doggie is 26 lbs and they never bother him...he barks at them but they don't pay one bit of attention...they're just off on their merry route to the mobiles that feed them

0

Grasca July 15, 2010 @ 5:31 p.m.

Raccoons are scary because of the rabies they carry. I had no idea that they were related to weasels and wolverines. Thanks for the information. Since we live unarmed here on the Ponderosa, our opportunities for raccoon eradication are limited. But as one said, it keeps us out of the clink or needing to flee across the border.

0

SurfPuppy619 July 15, 2010 @ 8:40 p.m.

We were visiting friends in Julian one summer. After a peaceful walk in the woody hood, everyone was relaxing inside the cabin. It was dark and still until a god awful racket started up on the roof.

Upon close inspection with a powerful flash light we saw numerous raccoons having a big fight.

I used to get those crazy critters over at my old home all the time.

Once time at about 1 AM, there were four HUGE racoons having some nocturnal pleaures on my patio and making more noise than a Rolling Stones concert, so I hit the outside flood lights-didn't faze them at all. I had a cocker spaniel at the time that was super alpha and she wanted to mix it up with them, the problem was they were twice her size, they were monster big racoons, and they had those huge claws on them....so I tried to scare them off, and they did FINALLY leave. And they actually scaled my 6 foot wooden fence to exit the property, which was quite a site to see, these over fed fatties being able to scale a 6 foot fence......they have cat like climbing abilities.....

0

nan shartel July 17, 2010 @ 7:40 p.m.

hey Spark

i found some food for ur Raccoons

·´¯·.¸¸..>·.¸´¯·.¸¸..>.·´¯·.¸¸..>·´¯·.¸¸..>·´¯`·.¸¸..>

thx to founder

0

Grasca July 17, 2010 @ 8:02 p.m.

"Nocturnal pleasures ?" Code for Raccoon Amor ?

0

Rocket_J_Squirrel July 17, 2010 @ 9:55 p.m.

A big hairy beaver is a thousand times more ferocious than your basic run of the kitchen raccoon.....

0

nan shartel July 18, 2010 @ 9:09 a.m.

BEAVERS!!!!!!!

u bring beavers into this u scamp!!!

the official Dam Builder of Canada Union will be looking into this ~~squirrel o my heart~~

0

nan shartel July 18, 2010 @ 10:38 a.m.

oooooooooooo Grasca...u been out in the sticks studying wildlife for 2 long...hahahahahahahahaha

good one girlie!!!

0

bohemianopus Aug. 4, 2010 @ 7:57 a.m.

GREAT STORY!!! I laughed until I fell off my chair! Congrats on the win--you deserve it!

0

MsGrant Aug. 4, 2010 @ 9:33 a.m.

Congratulations on your win! Truly funny story!

0

nan shartel Aug. 4, 2010 @ 11:31 a.m.

Congrats on the win...i never had so much fun with raccoons

0

Sign in to comment