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Into the Outdoors: Raccoons

This week’s column is a bit of a creature feature. Recently, I have been nothing short of bedeviled by raccoons. These little trash pandas have been visiting my back deck every night. Each time, they leave some sort of havoc in their wake.They upset trash cans and scatter the contents. They eat all of the cat food, and sometimes, for reasons known only to them, carry off the dishes. All in all, they are a pain in the backside That said, they are also very cute, especially the little ones. There are few critters cuter than baby raccoons. A few years ago, a mother raccoon and five tiny babies showed up.

There was a time when I hunted raccoons with what could only be described as a passion. I had the dogs and all of the other required gear. So did a lot of other guys I knew. A lot of trappers went after raccoons as their number one target. Then, the bottom dropped out of the fur market. Dog food and trapping supplies are expensive, so a lot of hunters and trappers hung it up. This allowed the raccoon population to increase unchecked. Nowadays, I wouldn’t harm a raccoon. As the years have gone by, I have adopted the attitude that, if it dies, it fries, which applies to both animals and fish I ate raccoon once, and have no desire to do so again. Some folks like it, but not me.

Some time ago, I read a story about a woman who came across a baby raccoon. Concerned for its well being, she picked it up and took it home with her. She and some of her friends cuddled and played with it. It scratched and nipped at them. They later found out that the little critter had rabies, although the article did not say how the discovery was made. Anyway, all those who had come into contact with the animal had to get rabies shots. They were fortunate in that they found out in time.

Rabies is one of the more horrible of diseases. It is virtually one hundred percent fatal once the symptoms appear, although a small handful of people have survived. In the interest of research, I did a Google search on rabies. I came across some genuinely gruesome footage. I would not recommend viewing the footage. It is truly the stuff of nightmares.

All of this reinforces the idea that one should leave wildlife, no matter how cute and cuddly looking, alone.

It is really hard to believe that, by the time you read this, the Fourth of July will have come and gone. For those of us, like me, who love summer, it’s all downhill from here. To top it off, this summer has not been all that great. Even so, there is still a lot of potential for summer fun left.

Over the years, July has emerged as one of my favorite fishing months. A lot of fish are in season, and it seems like the bite, like the weather, is often hot. Early morning and evening seem to be the most productive times.

Crow season is now in. You can only hunt them on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Years ago, the late John Kusick and I used to hunt them. We never did any good, but we had a lot of fun in the attempt, especially since we used muzzleloading shotguns.

And finally, a lot of folks get a great deal of enjoyment out of hunting woodchucks. By the way, when properly cleaned and prepared, they are delicious.

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