Saturday, July 02, 2011

The Little Asshole

Everyone likes raccoons. They're really cute and they're usually not up to anything much in the way of mischief. They cruise around looking for stuff to eat. No biggie.

One thing to keep in mind about them is that they are highly intelligent critters. They're carnivorous, of course, but in habit they are classic omnivores. Like their big cousins, the bears, they will eat just about anything that's remotely edible. They'll go after minnows, snakes, frogs, lizards, bugs, larvae, berries, fruit, leaves, shoots, name it and they'll probably eat it.

In Florida, almost every picnic area and campground is packed with these little assholes. In such a habitat they are pests of the first degree. In addition, they can be downright dangerous. They can scratch and they can bite. The latter is especially dangerous as they are also one of the most likely animals to contract and pass the dreaded rabies virus.

One year when we were camping at Blue Spring State Park in Florida, our campsite was constantly being hit by a particularly aggressive raccoon. As things progressed, I began to figure that the animal in question was a pregnant female whose focus was on fattening up to feed the womb full of future raccoon assholes she was carrying. They will learn many bad habits from their mother, I am sure.

It wasn't fifteen minutes into setting up our campsite that she first hit. While we were erecting the awning on our travel trailer, she rushed over, pushed up the top to a cooler, and grabbed a pack of hamburger patties we'd brought along. Before we could react she had them in her mouth and was off into the bush from whence she'd appeared.

Later, she returned and, unable to find any food, snatched one of Carole's sandals and took that into the shrubs where we were never able to find it. I'm convinced she did that out of spite for not being able to find any food.

The next evening, while we were watching a DVD in the trailer, we felt a change in air pressure. We turned to look toward the door, and peeking around the side of the refrigerator was the little asshole raccoon. She had pried the door open (we hadn't locked it) and barged right in. Carole screamed and the little masked face vanished and off she went, once more into the low-growing shrubs.

The next day, while we were grilling steaks for dinner, we looked at the edge of our campsite to see that she had come back. She just stood there looking at us, sizing us up. I began to get the distinct feeling that she was gauging her chances at making a rush at us to see if we'd scatter so that she could make a grab for those steaks. I was having none of that, so I picked up the broom we keep under the awning and held it as if it were a club.

"Get out of here you little asshole," I said.

The raccoon was not impressed. Instead, she considered her further options and just plopped down as comfortable as you please to wait us out. As long as I stood my ground, she wasn't going anywhere. After some discussion of the situation between the raccoon and myself, I decided to get a little more aggressive. I stood up and advanced on her, explaining that she'd have to go.

Finally, the little asshole relinquished her post and ambled off into the scrub forest from which she'd initially emerged.

We reported the situation to the park ranger, of course. She came and set out traps, but the last morning we were there, the only thing that had been dumb enough to take the bait was a clueless opossum. Probably a male.

"Hello. I'm yer friendly neighborhood bandit."

"Badges? We don't need no stinking badges."

"I'm just pretending to be cute."

"One more step, fat man, and I'll sink these into your calves."

"I've got all day. My middle name is patience."

"Yep. I'll just stretch out here and take it easy."

"I smell those steaks. Ribeyes, too. I'm good that way."

The next morning, the trap the ranger brought only had a dumbass possum inside.

And later, just before we took our leave, a gorgeous (threatened species) scrub jay arrived to pluck the bait from the trap without springing it. We told the ranger on our way out that they would need to re-bait the live trap. And just in case you're wondering, the rangers don't kill asshole raccoons who terrorize the campers. They just relocate them.


Steven Rowe said...

A couple of decades back, i was hiking the Florida trail, and we came upon a springs with park (Junipar Springs maybe?). Pack goes off, racoon comes in, fascinates people while his buddy eats holes in the packs to take the food out. There have been countless generations of the little assholes since.

HemlockMan said...

Opportunists, for certain!

If you were on the Florida Trail, then it could have been Juniper Springs. Juniper Springs Run goes through the Juniper Prairie Wilderness which I have floated. Amazing place and packed with all kinds of wildlife, including raccoons.

MarkGelbart said...

That is one fat raccoon. It must've ate the entire pack of hamburgers. I've heard that raccoon tastes like dark meat turkey.

My late grandparents used to go camping a lot. One time, a black bear invaded their campsite and ate every bit of food they had. I believe it was the equivalent of a week's worth of groceries.

HemlockMan said...

I think it was a pregnant female.

When I was a teenager living in the mountains of north Georgia one of my pal's mom cooked a raccoon that I was going to try. However, she overcooked it, so it wasn't eaten.

The reason my wife and I have a hard-sided travel trailer is because our campsite was raided by a black bear when we were camping at Standing Indian Campground in Nantahala National Forest in NC. We didn't have any food available for it, but the bear made a mess hunting for it just the same. The old saying goes: What does a 400-lb black bear do? Anything he wants.