Critters will get you every time

Earlier this morning I laughed at “AlmostIowa’s” story of the extortionist critters in his yard. This made me think of some of my true critter adventures.

A few years ago I spent a (Tidewater Virginia) winter listening to scritch, scritch, scritch. It was not the hapless squirrel in “Ice Age,” but my very own attic dwelling squirrel. When spring came and I heard no more scritch, I called a repairman who came and fixed my aluminum attic vent so no more critters would invade my home. Or, so he said.

The next winter, I heard heavy duty scratching and movements. Not believing a large animal could get into the vent, I went outside to look. The vent was bent like a Navy Seal had fought his way into the house looking for Taliban. Accepting that as a warning, I put extra security around my inside attic entrance and went to sleep each night to the sounds of giant wildlife walking above my head. At last spring arrived and the invader left. This time I called a different repairman who took one look and said, “You hosted a raccoon.” He completely rebuilt the vent and secured it like a cell at Sing-Sing. Now my attic is quiet. Some friends asked why I didn’t go upstairs and try to shoo the raccoon away. I replied as my dad would have, “I may not be well-educated, but I’m not stupid.”

Back in the 1960s I was a Girl Scout camp counselor and some of the girls came to me with tiny eggs. They were so proud of their find. But, being an experienced Girl Scout I thought that the eggs looked strange and knew the mama would be angry that the girls had stolen her eggs. I asked them to show me where they found the eggs. Soon I was looking at a totally smashed rattle snake. They had surprised the snake with a whack on the head with a huge stick, thus removing their danger. But, wanting to be sure the snake was really dead they continued smashing from head to tail. Just as they reached the end, the tiny eggs squeezed out and looked so cute that the girls had to share their discovery. I hated to disappoint them, but picked up a rock and smashed the eggs too. One thing Oklahoma didn’t need was more rattlesnakes.

About the same time my husband and I were camping on the Fort Sill range, next to a beautiful lake. Having no camping gear, we slept fully clothed on the ground between quilts. Just as the sun rose we heard a gentle snuffling and shuffling. We looked up to see a small herd of buffalo drinking from the lake. We stayed where we were and watched in awe as the huge creatures moved around to let the calves drink. They paid no heed to us and when they were done, wandered back to the hills.

While in high school I attended a local overnight (Ohio) Girl Scout camp which provided us with a large, supposedly critter proof, garbage can to store our food. Before heading to our tents we double checked to ensure that all food was in the can, the lid was tight and our pit fire was banked for the night. Next morning we arose to find our garbage can open and much of the food eaten or hauled away. Luckily, the thieves left paw prints. We dug out our trusty GS guide books to identify the food thieves. As we paged through the track guide, we studied and eliminated each track, until one girl said, “That’s it. The track matches the ones on our food can.” We solved the mystery. Our leader read the description and said, “This track belongs to a Dingo Dog, native to Australia. Keep looking.” We did, eventually identifying the thief as a raccoon and his pals. We went to the lodge and called our mothers for more food, which arrived as soon as they could get to the store and drive to the camp. For the rest of the week we put chains and locks around the can. No more raccoons or Dingo Dogs. BTW, we kept that fire burning for an entire week, even holding a tarp over it during a rain storm.

© Sharon Dillon, December 29, 2014