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Possumhaw: Raccoons and skunks, oh my


Shannon Bardwell



A raccoon was caught in the cage and the rain was beating hard. I admit I was feeling pretty prideful as it rarely takes more than a night to catch one. Raccoons are destructive; they have to go. 


From the front porch I could see the raccoon on the dock and the three ducks swimming in the lake enjoying the downpour. It's been an odd July with so much rain. Usually by this time the grass is dying, the flowers are wilting and even the leaves on the oak tree are drawing in, but not this year. The lakes are full and the spillways are running. All the rain makes the river and creeks muddy, and that's not good for Sam's crappie fishing. Luckily the freezer is full. 


I considered the raccoon and why he'd venture into something so unnatural. I put a tad bit of fish food outside the trap and a little bit inside. I wonder what he's thinking or if he's thinking when he followed the lure right into a metal sided, wire-grid floor, with a solid closed door on the end. The cage was only about as wide as his body and yet, he's so attracted he follows the food; then "bam" the door slams behind him. You know the raccoon will keep on eating even though he is locked in solid. I've been thinking about that.  


When I was about 8 years old Momma and Dad would take me on trips across the countryside. From the backseat window, I'd notice those concrete block honky-tonks, the ones that had no windows and only one door in the front. They'd have names like "Betty's Night Spot," hand-painted across the front of the concrete blocks. They'd be shabby looking and way out in the middle of nowhere. 


I remember thinking I'd never go into a place like that 'cause there's no way out. You don't know what might be waiting for you on the other side of that cavernous opening. No siree, not going into any place where I couldn't see a way out. I wonder if the raccoon is thinking about that about now. 


I've caught a few critters when the trap wasn't baited, like the last skunk. The trap was up against the cabin practically behind some chairs. I was in and out of the cabin feeding the ducks when I noticed this small, black and white, furry thing staring at me with sad eyes.  


We had been through this once before, and it's certainly a dilemma. We tried throwing a sheet over the cage to move it but that didn't work and we had to burn the sheet. 


I ended up carefully opening one end of the cage. The skunk raised his weary little head. I put some fish food on the outside. Kneeling down, I talked to him sweetly and left. The next morning the skunk was gone and with him, the fish food.


Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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