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Posts Tagged ‘Northern raccoon’

Warriors in the hollow

raccoon

It was a bad Saturday night.  My candidate was soundly defeated in the Nevada Caucuses, and I was smarting badly from loss.

Even as the night was drawing in, I knew the only way I was ever going to start feeling better was to go out into the woods for a twilight perambulation.

The Saturday before was a subzero night. Snow was on the ground and each step was hard and sharp and crunchy. This night was much warmer. It was well above freezing, and the sky was without any clouds. The stars were shining. The moon was almost full.

The squabbles out in Nevada now seemed pointless by comparison, and as I walked into the darkness of a stark February wood, I began to revel in the majesty and forget machinations of humanity. This is what I wanted anyway. Peace and quiet and a realization that this is all insignificant by comparison.

My reverie was then interrupted. In the hollow below the the logging road where I was walking came the churs and snorts of warring demons. There were screeches and squalls mixed into all the din. There was a great battle gong on below me, and I knew instantly what was happening.

February brings the raccoon mating season, and two of the local boars were sorting it out over a female in estrus. I guessed the one of them was the resident ridge-running raccoon who found him a sow to follow on this moonlit night, but the warmer weather and the intoxicating odors had brought up a challenger from the creek bed.

For five minutes, I listened to the boars fight. I debated as to whether I should wander down and see if I could get a better look.  But I was certain they would run if they heard my approach down into the hollow.

So I stayed put and listened to the war.

And as soon as the cacophony rose, the air fell silent again. The boars were not fighting now. Perhaps one had beaten the other, and now he had the sow to himself.  Or maybe they were off licking wounds and getting ready for another donnybrook.

I didn’t stay long to find out. My mind was tuned to something else besides politics, of the narcissism that is inherent in being human..

Raccoons have fought these wars long before there was a United States, long before there were Democratic Caucuses and primaries. Their wars were about passing on genes. Nothing more. Nothing less.

As I watch now, in this general election from Hell, I think back to that night in February. I think of the moonlight and the stars and the primitive war of ‘coons in a deep hollow.

The sun will rise tomorrow. The seasons will change. My life will one day end.

All around us are these parallel dramas, ones we don’t often take a time to consider.

We all live in alienation from this world to some degree.

But it’s important to break away from our world and see it in proper perspective.

In proper perspective, we can be fully humbled before the mystery.

 

 

 

 

 

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Raccoon picnic

This family of raccoons came by to eat some deer pellets and nibble on the feed block.

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Raccoons out foraging

These two raccoons are in their summer coats, and I think they are females that have been nursing young. If you’ve never seen one before, they have an interesting way of moving. They are plantigrade but light on their feet.

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Rascal fats

Big, fat boar raccoon:

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The first time I heard this sound in the dark, I had no idea what it was.

For those of you who don’t live where there are raccoons, I can tell you they are much more dog-like than you’d expect from animal that isn’t actually canid species. When you look into the eyes of a raccoon, it’s like looking into the eyes of a dog. This is a creature with a mind.

Probably the best way I can describe them to those who have never seen one in the flesh is they are kind of like a dog mixed with a primate and a bit of bear thrown in for good measure.

And when they are scared, they make lots of strange noises, including this alarm bark that sounds a bit extraterrestrial.

 

 

 

 

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This week we had several visitors on the trail cameras. Keep in mind that one of these cameras has a messed up clock, so the time stamp reads that the video was taken in 2068. These cameras are pretty good technology, but they aren’t that good!

Let’s start small.  Here’s a white-footed mouse or a deer mouse:

Source.

I can’t tell whether it is a white-footed mouse or a deer mouse, which is hard enough to do in the broad daylight. These animals are in the genus Peromyscus, and although we call them mice, they aren’t closely related to the mice that originated in Old World.  New World rats and mice are more closely related to voles, hamsters, and lemmings than to house mice and Norway rats.

Then we got a light-colored opossum:

Source.

A good close-up of a melanistic gray squirrel:

Source.

And a large raccoon:

Source.

Because of the size of the raccoon, I am assuming that this one was a male. He was coming to inspect a pile of sticks and logs that I have anointed with weasel lure.

 

 

 

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Visiting raccoon

raccoon visitor

A raccoon came by to inspect my new trail camera set-up.

I took the squirrel head and guts and buried them six inches deep. Then I piled some logs on top of the burial site. I topped it off with a bit of red fox urine to make it really interesting.

The location is just off a well-worn game trail. I’m not really trying to get raccoons on the camera, but once they start coming the more wary carnivorans should come soon.

That’s the hope anyway.

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