Between children and numerous diverse grandchildren, I thought I’d heard almost every possible start to a conversation.
“Maw, you need to take me by the hardware store. I need to pick up some chain.” Now this boy fishes and hunts, and I’m proud of him because he eats what he catches and kills, and has a profound respect for nature, but I typically hear things like, “I need some thirty pound test line for my new saltwater reel.” or “There’s a new lure I need for bass.” or “Cool! An ammunition sale! I need a box of shells for my .270 and some arrowheads for my bow. Wanna take me?” I’ve even heard, “Winston (his step-mom’s Yorkie) ate my bow-string, Maw. I need to go to Academy later for another one.”
But chain? Had me confused. So I asked him what on earth he needed chain for.
He explained Mr. Ron, a neighbor, has started having problems with deer, coyotes and raccoons eating his watermelon crop, so Tyler volunteered to help get rid of the pests. And after listening, I think my boy is a born story-teller.
The deer, he told me, were handled the easiest. The guys simply tied a dog out in the field at night, and his barking dissuaded the deer from stomping on the ripe melons and snacking on the insides. The coyotes — and many people don’t know coyotes are real problems for melon farmers — required a little more effort and persistence to convince them to leave the area. But with bobcats being natural enemies to coyotes, an every other daytime application of artificial bobcat urine around the field finally became an effective deterrent without having to resort to shooting them.
But the coons? They have to be some of the smartest — and meanest — creatures in the woods. Their reaction to the dog? Test the length of his rope, and booty dance inches out of reach of the hound’s muzzle. Tyler offered evidence to support his conclusion with his description of the perfect circle of deep claw marks left in the ground from the restrained dog lunging repeatedly at the coon. “Maw,” he said, serious as could be, “he had to have spent half the night trying to get to that coon.” He demonstrated raking motions with hooked fingers. “When we got there the next morning, it looked like the dog was sitting in the middle of a giant dirt flower. The deep claw marks from his digging in with back paws defined the center, and reaching out with his front paws made the outer edge all feathery looking from claw marks, like fine petals.”
The bobcat urine didn’t meet with any success with them either. Coon paw prints showed where they’d walked all around the scent sites. Then they just kicked dirt and leaves over it in total contempt.
Since some of the coons had babies, Tyler decided to put out live traps, catch the family, and release them in another wooded area farther away. “I go out there right at daylight and none of my traps are where I set them. I’m turning around and around in the melon patch when I finally spot one of them. Moving across the field!” He sounded so offended it was all I could do not to laugh. “You know the cartoons where the animal just kind of floats across the ground to the sound of twinkly music, on nothing but his extended fingertips?” He hunched over, putting his inner wrists together and wiggling his extended fingers beneath him. “All those coons needed was the twinkly music playing! They poked their little feet through the squares in the cage bottom and took off, trap and all!” He flopped flat across the couch, head hanging off the cushion almost to the floor, expression morose, and heaved this great sigh. “The mammas were doing most of the work, but I swear, some of the babies were getting in these little strokes every once in a while like they were paddling a canoe. And the babies that didn’t make it inside before the trap door closed tumbled and bumbled alongside, chirring encouragement like a personal cheering squad. You try running down your traps when they’re headed in all different directions! I’m going to chain them in place from now on.”
His forehead puckered, brows drawn together. “Better add some metal stakes to that list,” he advised after some consideration. “I was going to use wooden ones, but with my luck” — he chattered his bared teeth together at me in an exaggerated beaver imitation — “I’d probably come back to piles of wood chips and saw dust! The only difference would be the coons would d be dragging a length of chain behind them!”
Strange shopping list. But it’s one I can work with. I just wish he’d thought of shooting video.
Good writing, everyone! There’s something to write about every where you look!