Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Man vs. animals

Our house sits on about four acres. The bulk of the land is in a broad strip behind us, where the woods starts only five yards or so past the edge of the lower rear deck. Because we're close to the woods, critters wander by from time to time.

The other day, one of our visitors, a raccoon, decided to start dining at one of the bird feeders hanging off a deck post. The raccoon had been doing this for a while before I saw him, so it was cocky and set in its ways and didn't dash into the woods until I stepped onto the deck.

You can buy solutions for this sort of problem. You can put out humane traps. You can shoot the animal. You can buy concoctions, such as coyote urine, to spread over the ground where the animal enters the deck. The idea behind this last approach is that the animal will smell a larger predator and stay away.

Or, you can handle it yourself. That's the approach I favor, because it's both simple and it's fun. Here's what you do:

1) Eat a lot of meat, preferably red meat.
2) Drink a lot, preferably something nasty like Diet Coke.
3) Wait until you really have to pee.
4) Go pee around the perimeter of the entry area.
You. The coyote. Close enough.

I've used this strategy many times successfully in the past. I've even done it for friends; I'm a helper.

(Yes, the friends requested it. What kind of person do you think I am? Okay, most of the time they requested it. Anyway....)

So, the other night I ate a bunch of red meat, drank a ton of water and a can of Diet Coke with Lime (I wondered if the citrus flavoring would affect the results; hey, I am a scientist as well as a writer), and waited.

When I couldn't wait any longer, I made my way down the two short sets of steps of our multi-level rear deck, looking downward and left and right frequently in case the raccoon was out there, and reached the end of the deck. I unzipped, prepared to pee, looked up...

...and found myself less than six feet away from deer.

I stared at the deer.

It stared at me.

In the short time it took me to evaluate the pros and cons of peeing on the deer, it clearly read my mind and raced off.

I concluded my mission and then wondered for a few days if I should write about this little adventure. All my better nature argued against it, but of course my strange side won.

Thank goodness it was a deer and not an angry raccoon.


Michelle said...

Thank you for making me laugh so hard I shot my morning drink out my nose all over my desk. You are a helper!

Mark said...

You're most welcome.

Lisa Shearin said...

Completely priceless and a must-share. I just posted it on Twitter. ; )


Mark said...

Thanks, Lisa.

J. Griffin Barber said...

I wonder if it'll be more effective on certain species having eaten something of the same genus?

Have some venison, for the anti-deer, some roadkill for the raccoon, etc?

The scientist in me drives me to ask.

Mark said...

I have wondered that very thing.

steveburnett said...

I am also having a problem with a raccoon eating from a bird feeder on my deck. I came home last night to hear small barks and coughs in the woods...coming from a pair of raccoons intimately involved, thirty yards up a tree. So instead of one, I have two - and may shortly have more than two.

Mark said...

You know the answer, Steve: eat a steak, drink some Diet Coke, and get to spraying.


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