The Great Raccoon Battle…

Took place one Sunday morning while the family was at Mass.

For a couple of weeks leading up to that Sunday morning, I had been hearing a thumping noise in the house. For those of you who have dogs, it sounded just like a dog scratching himself behind the ear with his leg hitting the floor. This was an unusual sound to hear in our house as we did not have a dog. It was always very faint too. I could never really determine where it was coming from, so I never really investigated the source of the sound closely.

On that fateful Sunday, before the rest of the family went to Mass (I myself had gone on Saturday afternoon, for those of you wondering), my wife, our daughter, and I were all sitting in the living room reading the paper and talking over coffee. There came a tremendous sigh from the fireplace. Yes, it sounded just like a dog was settling in to rest in the fireplace. But, again, since we didn’t have a dog, I now knew what the problem was, we had a raccoon that had taken up residence in our chimney.

When the rest of the family departed for Mass, I got a ladder out and got up on the roof to take a look at down the chimney. Sure enough, there was a big raccoon laying on top of the flue.

I thought for a while about what I could do. I thought I might start a fire. Surely that would get rid of the raccoon, right? The heat would drive him right out the top of the Chimney and cause him to leave the house behind. Somehow I convinced myself that this would not work, that the raccoon would simply move up in the chimney and wait me out as we only have a set of gas logs and they don’t really get very hot.

So I decided I needed to remove the raccoon, and then chase him away.

So I got a rope.

I made a loop with a slip knot.

I lowered that loop down the chimney.

One the first try I got the loop over the raccoon’s head.

I gave the rope a good hard tug.

The sensation on my end of the rope when that loop of rope tightened around the raccoon’s waist was very similar to setting the hook on a very large fish.

It was at this point that I had the first inkling that I had made a mistake. I quickly realized I had a 20 pound angry raccoon, that was no doubt made very uncomfortable by the tight loop of rope around its waist at the end of my rope. At this time I realized I had not thought the whole process through and was heading toward trouble.

I pulled on the rope, trying to lift the raccoon out of the chimney. It fought me the whole way, clinging to the rough brick interior of the chimney with its claws.

I paused to think through what I was doing. I realized that I was about to yank a 20 pound raccoon out of the chimney. This raccoon was going to be angry. It might just decide to attack me. I didn’t want to get bitten by a possibly rabid raccoon so I stepped way back on the roof. I got about as far from the chimney as I could. I gave that rope a couple of real hard tugs and out popped the raccoon. I was right too, it started right at me. About half way to me, it suddenly turned and jumped off the roof.

But I had the rope. And now I wanted to make certain that raccoon didn’t ever return. I knew it would take a few days to get a chimney cap (yes, it was amazing that a 30 year old house didn’t have one). In the meantime I didn’t want go through this again. So I stood on the edge of the roof and reeled that raccoon back in (keeping the fishing metaphor going). I soon had him hanging upside down about five feet off the ground. I felt safe. The raccoon was completely enraged and kept trying to climb up the rope to get at me. Every time it started to do this, I just bounced it up and down a foot or two and the climbing stopped.

For a few seconds I was without a plan. I didn’t want to just let the raccoon run off trailing 150 feet of rope, and I was on the roof with no help. Ideas, tools, and weapons were not on the roof with me. I decided I needed to knock the raccoon unconscious. I started swinging the raccoon across as big an arc as I could and tried to slam it into the side of the house. It didn’t work. It only further angered the raccoon. He was pissed. He really seemed to be taking this whole thing personally. But that’s just me ascribing human emotions to animals.

At this point of this avoidable mess, I’ve probably been on the roof for 20 minutes. There are houses less than 30 feet away from us on either side. I live in a major metropolitan area. It was a beautiful Sunday morning about 11:30. No one saw or heard a thing while I’m doing battle with this raccoon. If the neighbor on the side of the house where the raccoon was hanging off the roof had been in his kitchen drinking coffee, he would have had a front row seat to this fiasco. As it was, I was completely on my own.

I stood there for a few minutes. I finally figured out I could tie my end of the rope off around the chimney, leaving the raccoon suspended in front of my daughter’s window. He still wasn’t very pleased about his situation. Not that I was concerned about anything other than bringing this varmit infestation to anything but a satisfactory conclusion for me. It was, however, about to get much worse for the raccoon.

After tying off the raccoon, I thought about my next step. There were a few obvious choices; Handgun, shotgun, and Louisville Slugger. Now remember, I was in a hurry. I had a raccoon hanging from the side of the house, I didn’t really have time to think this through. I decided there was some danger a bullet might continue down a path that was unsafe (I’ve already mentioned how close the neighbors are). I didn’t have any shells for the shotgun, and that noise would have definitely drawn attention anyway. So, Louisville Slugger it was.

I’ll spare you the gory details. Well maybe not, as you’ll picture what happened in your mind. But think about the physics. The raccoon was free swinging from the end of the rope. If you’ve ever seen how many whacks it takes with a stick for kids to break open a piñata, you’ve got a good idea of what it took to do in that damn raccoon.

What a mess! I bagged up the raccoon. Bagged it again. Triple bagged it. Hosed off the side of the house. Cleaned the evidence off the bat. Put the raccoon in the trash, etc.

I was just about to go inside when the wife and kids pulled up home from Mass. You should have seen the look on their faces! They get out of the car and ask me, “What happened? Where did all that blood come from? Are you ok?”

It was then that I realized I looked like Dexter checking his blood spatter patterns. I was a mess too! I then had to sheepishly tell my wife what  I had just done.

About one week later the chimney cap arrived.

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