On a deep dark night many years ago my wife and I were sitting in our living room watching TV. It was summer and the windows and doors were mostly open. Suddenly, from somewhere in the [pullquote]By the way, my next article about fishing is going to be about the thirteen pound blue gill I caught at Rocky Fork Lake.[/pullquote]woods nearby our house, we heard the most indescribable scream imaginable. It was a sound neither of us had ever heard before and within a few seconds we heard it a second time.
I quickly grabbed a shotgun and a bright powerful flashlight and we headed into the wood in search of whatever was being torn to shreds. Long story short, whatever it was must have been scared off by our presence and we never again heard such a sound.
Last week a friend reported on Facebook what seemed like a similar experience. She posted a YouTube sound track of two raccoons fighting and after twenty years we now think we know what it was in our woods.
This led to several people offering up raccoon stories so I thought I’d add a couple of my own. Couple of years ago I watched a PBS documentary about raccoons. They are one of the smartest and most adaptive animals known and someone made the comment that when the nuclear holocaust takes place it will be cock roaches and raccoons who inherit the earth that remains. Having personally experienced the raccoon’s ability to adapt and survive I didn’t have any trouble accepting the statement.
Most of you know that I’ve frequently traveled to Florida on fishing trips. Almost all these trips involved camping and there is not a campground in Florida that doesn’t have a thriving population of raccoons who are very aware of the ways of mankind.
Bill Applegate is my fishing buddy and we learned on our first trip that all food had to be kept in the vehicle and if you did leave a cooler sitting on a picnic table the lid had to be somehow made raccoon proof. After several failed attempts we finally devised a means to attach a ratcheted security strap around the cooler and the mechanism, combined with several half-hitches, was too complicated for the beast to figure out.
I usually sleep in my van while Bill pitches a tent. Before going to bed Bill would put the cooler in the tent to keep it safe during the night. One morning in the Florida Keys I woke up early and upon stepping out of the van noticed several empty bags of bait shrimp. When Bill woke up a little later we discovered that the coons had unzipped the door to his tent, gotten into the cooler, and dragged the bait outside to eat. To their credit they were polite enough to close the lid on the cooler and to not wake Bill up. Following that experience we devised a means to secure the zipper and lock the animals out.
On another trip with my son, Mike, we had bought some live shrimp for bait. We kept them alive in a floating live bate bucket attached to the boat with a rope. When we came in from fishing at the end of the day we left the boat in the water along with the bait bucket. Next day we discovered that all our bait was gone. The raccoons had climbed onto the boat, pulled the bucket in, opened the swivel locking device, and pushed back the spring loaded door, and had our shrimp for a midnight snack. Mike swears to this day that he had locked the door the night before AND that it was LOCKED when he checked the bait that morning. In other words, those damned coons were familiar enough with these bait buckets to get inside and courteous enough to secure the lock when they were finished. To keep it from happening again we had to drill a couple of holes into the bucket and secure the door with pieces of clothes hanger wire.
Knowing that these stories came from fishermen you may choose to believe they are exaggerations. But, I swear on Bill Dance’s family Bible they are absolutely just as I have reported. By the way, my next article about fishing is going to be about the thirteen pound blue gill I caught at Rocky Fork Lake.