Raccoons have new leader

By Steve Estes

Strictly Drivel

We believed that we had seen the passing of the guard in our neighborhood.

Where once we were inundated daily with Key Deer and nightly with raccoons, in the last year or so we have been inundated daily with Key Deer and nightly with opossums.

Opossums, I believe, are a more aggressive species than raccoons, so I, in my twisted way, have been envisioning little gangs of opossums trampling through the woods and undergrowth around our neighborhood, terrorizing smaller gangs of raccoons, convincing them that this was no longer the best hunting grounds for the ring-eyed ones.

I could envision a circle of opossums with a cowering raccoon in the middle getting the word in not-so-subtle terms this particular area full of treat-laden trash cans continually refilled with goodies by the two-leggers was no longer a raccoon haven.

After the lecture, I could envision a cowered raccoon taking off for parts unknown, deeper into the woods where the pickin’s aren’t quite so easy, but at least there aren’t marauding bands of opossums to worry about.

We had found opossums in our trash cans, in our trash container, romping around in the back yard, and taking over the street.

But our thinking is about to change I believe.

This week, I think we welcomed Super-Coon to the neighborhood.

I personally never believed that such a thing as Super-Coon could exist.

He would have to be tough enough and fast enough to stand up to the marauding opossums. He would have to be stealthy enough to avoid capture by the two-leggers. He would have to be brave enough to conduct his raids in daylight.

And he would have to be strong enough to single-handedly (quad-footedly?) carry off his booty on his own.

You can see why I was skeptical.

But Super-Coon does exist. We met him.

Earlier this week Holly and I had to return home early to pick up some items we needed for work at the Big Pine Haunted Laboratory that kicks off Sunday night at the Big Pine Community Park.

It is rare that we see a raccoon in the daylight hours.

And at first we weren’t sure that’s what we had.

We approached our house, which sits near the end of a dead-end road in the middle of the National Key Deer Refuge. And we saw a trash bag in the middle of the street.

It wasn’t our normal ripped to shreds, pieces flying all over in the wind, trail of human waste across the road trash bag.

The bag was completely intact. It was even still tied.

And it was walking across the street.

I can’t say it was walking because I haven’t lost enough of my mind yet to believe that trash bags can walk on their own, but it was obviously moving, and not in the end-over-end, haphazard fashion one would expect if the wind were providing the locomotion.

It moved steadily and with purpose. As we got closer, I began to rethink how much of my mind I may have lost in recent months. The bag had feet.

My sanity was restored when Super-Coon stopped a few seconds and stuck his furry head up over the far side of the bag to check out what was coming to disrupt his thievery.

He didn’t care that it was us. He sneered. He pitched the trash bag over his back like Santa Claus readying to slide down the chimney and continued to carry the full trash bag across the street.

He hit the side of the road and met the first layers of underbrush. That stumped him for a moment, at least long enough for us to pull up across from him.

It wasn’t until we had pulled up even with him that he seemed to bother to notice our interest. And he must have thought we were a couple of lousy two-leggers out to steal his hard-won booty.

He stared at us. We stared at him. He finally decided we weren’t entirely trustworthy.

He dropped the bag and stood up on his little hind legs, balling his hands into tiny fists and shaking them at us as if to invite us to step out of the car and bring it on.

I don’t believe I’ve ever been challenged to a fist fight by a raccoon before,and I’m sure I don’t want to be again.

We had no intention of swiping his ill-gotten gains.

He didn’t know that.

He gripped the bag tighter and shuffled it into the near underbrush. He stood back up, turned back around and balled his tiny hands into fists again and began shaking them at us again as if to say that if we dared follow we knew what in store for us.

We had no intention of following.

He finally got the bag well into the underbrush at the side of the road and feeling comfortable that his robbery of a two-legger treat bag was accomplished, strutted his stuff back out to the side of the road.

He didn’t stand. He didn’t sneer. He made not a sound.

Instead, he turned sharply on his heel, executing a very precise about-face maneuver and strutted back into the underbrush….with his tail up.

I had just gotten the booty from a booty-stealing raccoon.

Me.

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