There is an art form for a racoon watch. It has its own type of trench warfare. Both sides have an aid that makes them sucessful. Here is one example.

A week ago Thursday my family woke to hear walking noises above our heads at 5:10. Worried that something somehow might have gotten into the attic we checked. We saw nothing. From there we heard nothing. Back in our bedrooms we again heard skittering feet. We prayed it was a bird walking along the gutters but we knew.

The house across the street had had coons sucessfully living there for 10 years. The people living there (Renters) had been feeding them. Eventually the owner called in animal control and we thought the problem was solved. Then last year the house next to us had a mother and two babies move in. It appeared they remembered and liked the neighborhood. Lucky us. These racoons were removed too. Problem solved? I guess not because obviously we were the not so happy next house to be infultrated. Oh, what joy.

That first day our new critter left for its nightly hunt around 7:15 p.m. and the next morning (Friday) we were up and at em at 5:00 a.m. guarding our house from reentry. We hit pay dirt when at 6:05 a.m. the fat lumbering body of the suspected racoon came ambling up the steet from the nearby creek. For him/her it was nighty night. It headed our way and when it spotted us, it became frightened and ducked into the sink-hole that had developed next to the storm drain. It might have been out of sight but it was not out of mind.

Saturday morning we again roused ourselves from bed like rusty creaky jack-in-the-boxes and headed to our post (front porch) to watch and listen. We waited until 5:20 but we saw nothing. Perhaps we’d suceeded in frightening it away? We hoped. That hope didn’t last. We’d no sooner crawled back into bed then we heard it. Had we missed it or had it come sooner then we thought and we had just been too tired to hear its entry? We didn’t know but we knew we needed to get it out.

Think smart. What would scare a coon? Pounding? We gave it a shot. Rafter wacking ensued and a light scamper effect we got but it didn’t leave. Then some quick thinking and human dog barking started. The coon didn’t like it. It ran all over from its hiding place between the roofline and the rafters. It wanted to get away from the dog but how without being seen. When we left the attic behind the silence was the coon’s signal. Outside again we looked at the house and then, well… we saw it leave through our yard. It was getting away as fast as it could from us and our dog.

Since that morning we have risen with the birds at 4:00 a.m. We’ve seen it duck back into the storm drain and into the house across the street. Obviously, they never left but at least we know 100% for sure how it got in our house. It lifted the soffeting beside our attic window and squeezed in. It must be semi hollow in there but the blessing is it can’t get in to where we live.

So what do you need on a racoon watch? Three people: 1 on the back porch, 1 on the front porch and 1 circling the house. All watchers must be equipped with a flashlight and a pole or stick (broom handles work well too.) These poles are used to signal others of a sighting rather than yelling, which could wake the whole neighborhood, and for pounding to scare the pesky critter away.

For the porch sitter a few things are very helpful. Warm clothes. It’s still quite chilly in the morning and a two hour twenty minute vigil at 4-6:20 a.m. gets cold fast. Here it has been about 30-34 degrees in the morning. My own form of clothes was simple when I came about it.

First, leave the PJ’s on. Add to it a warm sweatshirt and throw on a robe on top. Next put a light weight jacket on. You’re going to want to be able to move your arms. Sittling outside means you wear your hood or grab a hat. You also slip your hands into gloves/mittens. For the most possible warmness you can create, grab a fleece blanket to top it all off. I sit on a cold hard metal porch chair from the forties so I added a blanket liner to the chair and put a pillow behind my back. It is suggested for several reasons that you bring a cup of coffee or tea out with you in a travel mug and drink it slowly. It’ll help warm you from the inside and help to keep your eyelids from drooping in the early part of your wait.

Since Saturday we’ve seen birds, a bunny and this morning a skunk. The coon is hiding from us and that’s fine by us. I just wish the contractor would get his butt over here faster. In the meantime we’ll sit and today we’ll pick up the ordered supplies of an electronic rodent repeller and some kind of powder that if poured along the foundation deters them from getting close. Hopefully this will be the last morning I spend On the Path of a Ringtail.