Nature’s little bastard: The Raccoon

Raccoons at night. Nanaimo, Canada

Last night I dumped out a big pile of food for my feral cats at my campsite.  Within a couple minutes this pack of raccoons showed up and ran my cats off.  Five or six of them.  Big, hairy mothers.  The raccoons snarled viciously at each other as they’re fighting over the food.  Raccoons are like a mob of lowlife thugs.  A nasty critter.  But very intelligent.  I have total respect for them.  They were about five feet from my sleepingbag while they were eating.  I watched them in the darkness with fascination.

All the other critters in the woods cower in fear in the face of human beings.  We’re six-foot tall, with big brains and amazingly agile fingers.  Plus, weapons.  Top of the food chain we are.  And the other animals recognize that, and respect that.  Except the raccoons.  They have absolutely no fear.  They stomp around the woods like the neighborhood bullies.

I remember the first time I confronted a raccoon in the woods. I jumped up and shouted:  “BAHAARGHH!!  BEAT IT!  SCRAM!! GET LOST!!  NOWWWW!!!” while making all these very fierce gestures.  The raccoon just sat there staring at me with those blank raccoon eyes, like:  “Yeah.  Whatever, dude.”

And a nasty, vindictive critter, too.  This one night I was trying to drive them away from the cat food. So I threw a rock at the raccoon and beaned one of them on the head.  I could hear him screech in the darkness.  A direct hit (usually I miss  — I sucked at baseball — so it was very satisfying to finally nail one of the fuckers).  But the raccoon got back at me later.  He waited until I went to sleep.  Then he grabbed my backpack.  Unzipped it with his nimble fingers.  Took out my cellphone and tossed it in the creek.  Ruined it (65 bucks down the drain!).  Then he took my glasses out of the case and scratched up the lenses.  I’m still wearing those scratched-up glasses.  Bastard.  Ha ha.  I have grudging respect for the raccoons.  They’re tough and they don’t take shit.
I’ve spent 8 years as a homeless guy, living amongst those raccoons.  Some times I’ll even feed ’em if I have some extra food.  I admire them in a weird way.  They can appear vicious.  And they are.  But they’d never physically attack me.  Unless I’m stupid enough to try and corner one of them, and they have no choice but to defend themselves.  And you better believe they could do some damage.  They have the strength of a miniature bear.  And the quickness and agility of a cat.  When you see how quickly they can dart straight up a tree, it is an impressive sight.
But they can really be annoying.  They’ll do stuff like this.  One night I had a leftover roastbeef sandwich in my backpack.  I knew the smell would attract a pack of blood-thirsty raccoons.  So I used my backpack as a pillow so I could keep track of it while I was sleeping. I wake up in the middle of the night and a goddam raccoon is actually tugging at my backpack.  He’s trying to drag it away from me. Pull it right out from under my head.  Ha ha.  Nature’s masked bandits.
And wouldn’t you know it?  Those damn raccoons got me again last night.  It was 1:18 AM.  And I had a big slab of fresh turkey and cheese for my feral cats. I was planning on saving it for the morning.  Because I knew the raccoons were on the scent.  Pack of thugs.  But when I showed up at my campsite, only Feral Tom, the feral tomcat, was hanging out. No sight of the raccoons anywhere.  And Feral Tom looked forlorn and hungry.  So I tossed him the food.  He gets to eat it for about 30 seconds, when the pack of raccoons descends like vultures on the food.  Pounced on that food. They had been lurking, hiding in the bushes.  Just waiting for me to show up.  They’re a very intelligent creature, raccoons.  They study me, and monitor my behavior.

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