Outdoors Column: Raiders

It is a challenge when a person attempts to provide supplemental feed for certain wildlife and exclude others. I have found this with planting food plots for the deer. Last year, I put in an area of soy beans. Planting them late would provide fresh, high protein greens right up until we had a hard freeze. This gives deer a chance to store up a bit of extra energy before winter. I faithfully tilled and planted about an acre next to the timber where the deer could feel safe to browse. Turkeys, apparently, are extremely fond of beans just as they begin to sprout. Within two weeks of planting, there were about twelve bean plants left that had not been dug out and eaten by the turkey raiders.


We have had similar problems with the bird feeders in the yard. Grape jelly, put out for the orioles, is attractive to many animals. It must be far enough away from the fence that the horses cannot reach it. Who knew horses like grape jelly? It is also necessary to keep it high enough that the dogs cannot get to it. The bird seed needs to be high enough deer cannot reach the feeders. A deer standing on its hind legs can reach quite distance. To fill our bird feeders, I must stand in the back of the Ranger and reach up to get them down.


Last week, the grape jelly container was empty on the ground. Two seed feeders were also down, and everything had been eaten. To add further insult, the bird waterer was also knocked down and drained. Something had a full meal, dessert, and a nice drink before they left. To be agile enough to eat and drink everything available, it had to be a raccoon. This meant war.


That evening, I baited the live trap with grape jelly and marshmallow fluff. I thought I would probably find Jag, our terrier, in the trap in the morning, but I needed to try to stop our thief. At 3 AM, Jag started barking. When he is doing his job of keeping the deer away from the house, he barks until they leave, and I can just ignore him. In a couple of minutes, the threat is gone, and he shuts up. The threat apparently was not going away as persistent barking continued. I grabbed a flashlight and went out to check on his crisis. An angry raccoon was in the trap and an equally angry dog was trying to get him. It was only then I realized I had no plan in case I did catch our raccoon raider. I placed the live trap on the porch, locked Jag off, and went back to bed. The decision could be made in the morning when I was more awake.


The next morning, with eyes half open, I made my way to the porch with coffee in hand. As I sat down to soak up the morning sun and enjoy my coffee, I remembered the raccoon. Looking around the corner, a rather unhappy looking raccoon was still in the trap. A decision had to be made before it was time to go to work. There would be no question if it was winter when his pelt was prime and raccoon season was open. I thought about turning him loose at Lake Wapello State Park. Since it is only two or three miles across country, I knew he would be home before I got back from work. Another wildlife area is about twenty miles away and on my route to work. Raccoon and I left for work together. Only one of us returned, so far.