Mr. Bigfoot, the most persistent raccoon ever known, continued his nightly raids at the Schmidt house, causing me to toss and turn all night while the dogs whined and howled.
VIOLA - Dane and I bungee-corded the lids on the dog and cat food containers. We baited the live trap with smelly tuna. We stacked cement blocks in front of the basement doggy door until it looked like Fort Knox.
But Mr. Bigfoot, with the finesse of a master thief, repeatedly stole the bait from the trap. Well-fed, he then moved the concrete blocks, slid his little raccoon fingers under the doggy door, opened it, and continued his basement marauding.
One evening, after Dane had gone to bed, I heard clinking and clanging from the basement. I sprang into my red slippers, dashed outside, and sneaked around to the basement door. My heart pounding in my ears, I swung the door open and flipped on the light just in time to catch a blur of movement.
Bigfoot’s tail was sticking out from under the shelf we keep our bee supplies on. I shook the shelf madly, but he didn’t budge. Determined not to leave him in the basement, I started noisily shaking the garbage can too–still no luck.
I looked for something to poke him with and saw my stash of pool noodles I use for teaching water aerobics. I grabbed a yellow one and stabbed it at him while hissing loudly, “Get out!”He moved a little, stuck his head out, hissed back at me, and hid behind the garbage can. I shook the can again and he ran back under the shelf. The noodle was too flimsy to convey my anger, but I jabbed it at him anyway.
As I kept yelling and swinging and poking and knocking stuff over, he finally came out, standing on his hind legs, his beady eyes glaring. I grabbed another noodle and with these two limp sticks went at him like a madwoman. Finally, he ran to the door, with me right on his heels screaming, “And stayout!”
I stopped and realized it was deathly quiet. A million stars shone in the sky, and for once neither Téte nor Finn was barking.
Back inside the house, I climbed the stairs, flipped on the light, and with hands on hips asked Dane why he hadn’t come down to help. He grabbed the blanket, pulled it over his head, rolled over and muttered, “It sounded like you had it under control.”
After two more sleepless nights, we declared war. The plan was for Dane and his Remington rifle to wait for Mr. Bigfoot on the back deck above the basement door.
Before dark, we rounded up my three resistant cats and three reluctant dogs and locked them in the house. Dane moved my new bistro table to one side of the porch and sat on it to wait for a shot at Bigfoot. With a headlamp on his forehead and his gun by his side, he was as ready as he could be. I wished Dane luck and went inside to try to sleep with my six prisoners.
A short time later, I heard a disturbing crash. For a hopeful second, I thought maybe Dane had shot the raccoon. Sure enough, he had seen Bigfoot, taken aim—and the table had collapsed, leaving Dane sprawled in a heap. Mr. Bigfoot sauntered away again with a full belly. Score another point for Bigfoot, none for us.
In the morning, Dane and I drove to a restaurant in LaFarge where, over eggs and toast, we hashed out another plan for catching Bigfoot. Dane still believed that if he could safely get a shot at him, it was the only way. I wasn’t so sure and wanted to try the trap again.
After breakfast, loaded with optimism, I took the pups for a hike and Dane went home. When I got back to my house Dane was there.
“What’s up?” I asked.
“I can’t find my gun,” he replied.
Dane explained that when he’d gotten to his house, he’d gone to put his gun away, but it wasn’t in his car. We looked in my basement, up on my back deck, and over by the woodpile where Dane parks his car, but we couldn’t find the missing gun and case.
Since he’d already searched his own house and car, there seemed to be only one possibility left: he must have set it on top of his car and then driven off, forgetting it was there. We got back in the car and drove super slowly, Dane watching one side of the road and me the other, searching for his gun case.
No luck. Dane was a complete mess and I kept encouraging him to call the sheriff. Hours later, he agreed, and with the sun starting to set, he dialed the sheriff’s non-emergency number.
I listened to him give all his information to the dispatcher, telling them it was a Remington. Then his tone changed as he made a plan to meet the officer who had his gun. Someone had found it at the gas station in Readstown—12 miles from my house—and turned it in to the sheriff.
No longer worried about his gun, Dane and I shared a good laugh and ate some dinner. Later, while he started washing the dishes, I went down to the basement. It dawned on me there might be a simpler way to keep the raccoon from coming through the doggy door. When I came back up, I gave Dane a crooked smile and a wink, and held up my hand–in it was a half-empty roll of duct tape.
We haven't seen Bigfoot since. Score one for us!