View Full Version : Outdoor adventures don't always go as planned.

April 03, 2005, 01:01
Getting situated in the cold iron patio chair, sipping some blended mixture of what resembled coffee, I could start seeing the first hints of daylight scattered in the distance among a row of Red Oaks to my east. This was the first morning in a good while that I could actually pull off the coat of responsibility and shed the worries of the week past, enjoying a sunrise alone with nature, if but for a few minutes.

The smells of early morning dew and the sounds of critters big and small either settling in for a days rest or just waking up after a nights slumber created a nostalgic hunger like some forgotten candy of childhood. I knew today was a day of special purpose. A day that would render adventure and a cornicopia of memories to share. Today would be the day that I caught a baby racoon and introduce him to the family as a pet.

Chugging down the last luke warm portion of my quasi-coffee mixture, I felt my heart pick up a few beats as I rose from my seat. An unexplained burst of energy and exitement came over me as if it were my graduating day from college or maybe the feeling a person gets when all six numbers flash across the television screen confirming the little slip of paper in thier hands was indeed a winner.
With a walk consisting of a speed I had not experienced in some years, I made my way to the barn in record time. Before me lay an array of implements one would judge as common or ordinary for a farm but in my minds eye, they were tools of a National Geographic explorer or Amazon jungle guide. As the sun was now starting to top the trees, I made a pile of these items, carefully checking each one as if my life depended on them. A rope, wet burlap 'tater sack, duct tape, empty five gallon bucket, pet carrier in size medium, and a MAPP torch.

My plan was simple but well thought out. I knew of an old hickory tree on the back forty that harbored a coon's nest and several previous years veiwing substantiated that indeed a mother reared yound in said tree at this exact time of year. About eight feet off the ground, was an oval hole in the main trunk, somewhat the size of a football but just big enough for a large momma coon to slink in and out. Not easy access as one would expect just reading this as the entire tree is entangled with a concertina style perimeter of thorned vines, easily tearing flesh with even a glancing pass near.

I dressed the part to combat this aggressive vegitation in a matter resembling a SWAT member from Djibuti. Knee-high rubber boots, stiff-starched 13MWZ Wranglers, Aunt Betty's gawd aweful Christmas present of a sweater that has never seen the light of day, bright red "Budweiser" ski mask, and a pair of welding gloves. Mind you, all fashion concerns were gone as I'm at least a mile from any straying eye that might catch a sight such as I.

The idea was to brave the slashing teeth of thorns, set empty five gallon bucket at base of tree under football shaped entrance hole, step atop bucket, set wet burlap 'tater sack smoldering with MAPP torch, stick smoldering burlap sack partially in said entrance hole whereas smoking out larger inhabitants at which point I would fend off said larger inhabitant with flailing arm holding MAPP torch as I stick other arm down said entrance hole and grabbing said larger inhabitants offspring.

Don't you know that I wished I had a buddy there just so I could have said "watch this".

I'll be the first to say that often times, plans have to be altered, especially in dealing with an operation of this magnitude.
Ten feet inside of the thorny vine thicket, I am hopelessly "stuck". Aunt Betty's flashback from the 70's sweater is made with large diameter threads which "pull" when caught on thorns. These "pulls" from the sweater now extend 360 degrees from my person, stretching outward like a spider web 2-3 feet from neck to waist. As I wiggle and squirm from side to side, I manage to reach in my pocket to find a pocket knife so I can cut myself free from this self-imposed net. For the purpose of shortening this already long story, suffice it to say that I ended up at the base of the target tree with half a sweater and trailing threads like a newlywed's limo trails ribbon from a bumper.

As I lean against the tree to catch my breath and regain focus on the task, I glance upward and see the tale-tail sign of a cloud of mosquitos at the entrance hole, confirming that in fact, warm-blooded mammals are inside. I commence with the procedure listed above with bucket, torch, smoke, etc. I listen carefully awaiting the sounds of an animal clawing its way from the warm burrow inside but silence prevails. I wait and wait but nothing. Thinking that the burrow inside the trunk may be a little deeper than expected, I stuff the smoldering burlap bag into the hole, blocking off the entrance, as I sit down to enjoy a smoke of my own. Minutes pass as I periodically press my ear to the tree trunk listening for signs of life but still nothing can be heard. "Oh well" I thought. "Maybe momma coon moved out". Thinking that I should call off the expedition, I again step atop the bucket to remove the smoldering burlap sack, thus ending my futile attempt at capturing me a baby critter.

Again, I wish I had my buddy there as witness because even though I didn't say "watch this", I know for a fact that my facial expressions displayed exactly that phrase.

I carefully tugged at the smoldering mess of a sack stuffed into the hole just enough so as I had a tag end to "jerk" outward away from me, hopefully keeping any hot material away from my now half exposed torso (remember the shredded sweater). With one swift motion, I yanked at the sack, following its travel through the air and onto the ground with my eyes as I intended to see if there may be any danger of glowing material that may set fire to the underbrush. Landing just a feet feet away, the smoldering sack was mostly intact and I was quietly thankful that I didn't have to do a rain dance to stomp out embers in a larger area. At this precise time, I begin to hear what I thought was a chopper in the far distance yet getting close quickly. You know the sound that a Chinook makes. Sort of like a bumping-humming sound from far off. I grab at my chin to pull the ski mask from over my face so as to get a better view and at the same time, raising my head to the sky to scan. Holy mother of Pearl!!!!

'Tis no chopper, or aircraft, or any other man-made contraption flying overhead but a steady column of pissed off red wasps flowing out of the hole in the tree like water from a fire hose at a three alarm fire. I mean to tell you that the sky was red, swirling, humming, buzzing and on top of me like Johns on a hooker during fifty cent friday. You have to remember too that from the time I yanked the sack out of the hole to the time the wasps had engulfed my head was approx. 10 seconds. Events flashed through my mind at incredible speed at this point. Things like my first bike, my first girlfriend, the time I broke a window out of a neighbors house with my sling shot at age 6, the time I took a dare to see if my tongue really would stick to the inside of the metal lined freezer at grandmas house-circa 1975, etc..

I did what any mature male adult would have done in the same situation. I screamed like an eight year old Campfire Girl at a campout in a tornado with intermittent yells of made-up curse words, prayers, and spittle flinging cries of mercy. All this as well as an Oscar award winning rendition of Moe, Larry, and Curly's dance steps in a tight circular pattern with arms above head swinging wildly as if free-faling without a parachute. Somehow, my brain decided that the "fight" part of "fight or flight" wasn't working and my steps straightened out into a stright-line sprint. No pocket knife was needed in clearing those pesky "pulls" and "snags" through the thorny vines. My large frame cut a path through them with ease. I can only imagine what I would have looked like at a distance if I were to be so restrained to have dry eyes witnessing such a performance but I do know now that I have a good shot at the next Olympics for the 1000 meter race.

As I neared what I thought was a safe distance of a couple hundred feet away from the scene, I fall to the ground in exhaustion only to find out that I am a good 1/4 mile away by now. Flat of my back, breathing wildly, my once pitter-patter heartbeats of joy now are banging away like orchestra drums making my eyes jump with every pump, I cough up what I know was at least 5 years worth of cigarettes and half a lung. I lay there for a good 10 minutes wondering what the coroner will enter on the line of "CAUSE OF DEATH" before I finally catch my breath and begin to inspect what is left of my person.

I make it easy on myself because I know the real shock of injury will be just about as bad or maybe worse than the episode I just went through. So I start at the feet. Okay, one sock. ONE SOCK!!!!???? Where the hell are my boots?
Never mind. Legs. Okay, they look alright I guess. I mean there are only 20-30 dime sized blood spots soaked through the jeans but I at least still have my pants on. Torso. Oh crap!! Where is the sweater? The only part that remains is the collar and a one foot strip hanging down all around it with several streamers of thread hanging down like dreadlocks. A few scrathes but nothing too bad. Nothing that a little fishing line and a sewing needle won't close up. Arms seem okay other than looking like I tried to train a bobcat to fetch. Now for the head. I can't really tell if my hair is sticking striaght up like Larry King due to the wind resistance of running at 124 mph. or because of the extreme fear I went though. At least I still have my hair. Nose is okay, eyes are fine other than the crusty junk from dried tears (must have been the wind resistance thing), lips, cheeks, forehead all okay but I don't remember having my ears pierced. Oh well. Hey, didn't I have a ski mask? Nowhere to be seen until I look from where I just ran from and I now can barely see that it is hanging from the thorny vines. I had gloves when I started this adventure too, didn't I?

Ya know, after all that, I had no intention of retrieving any lost clothing articles nor my expedition tools laying at the base of the tree. My only goal was to walk back to the house and plead my case to the wife and relish the comfort I knew she would be so willing to give as well as a few hours first aid treatment.
As I enter the living room, limping, moaning, bleeding and framing a look of "kiss my boo-boos", she takes one look at me, turns around and mumbles something I couldn't quite make out. "What", I say in a shaky voice. She exclaims loudly "Your sewing machine ran out of thread a long time ago and you ruined a new sweater". I try and and utter a few words but she just gives me a look of spooky concern and points a finger saying "The first aid kit is in that cabinet", "clean up the mess when your done".

Now what did I do to deserve this? Has my wife expected such folly from me? I try to bring home a little, warm, fuzzy critter as a gift to her (I'll mention here that she DID say it would be "cool" having a pet racoon days earlier), and this is the level of gratitude I get when gift turns to tragedy.

All is not lost. I found out afterward that Walmart is having a sale on hydrogen peroxide for fifty cents a bottle, 2 inch roll gauze is a buck, steri-strips are two thirty-nine a box of twenty and cool cigarette lighters shaped like Benelli shotguns for a dollar ninety-nine. :D

The worst part? I have yet to find a wasp sting unless tha part of flesh was ripped off during my escape.

April 03, 2005, 01:27
Excellent post! It made me feel like I was there with you. Probably because I have have had several such experiences in my life. And I have the scars to prove it.
:bow: :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow:

April 03, 2005, 12:01
Faltitude if you're not already you should write a book. Excellent post, reminded me of several 'adventures' I have undertaken during my life. Good read.


Dean P
April 03, 2005, 17:37
I did that once when I was a youngster. Set the woods on fire I did, burned off about an 1/2 acre before I stomped & beat it out with my shirt.:uhoh:

April 04, 2005, 12:56
Great story Faltitude. Did you ever get ANY sympathy from the wife?:rofl:

April 04, 2005, 13:33
Wow What a story, got any pictures? Next mission, do a little recon. we caught 3 baby racoons last summer and kept them in our green house for a couple days and moma racoon stood by so we let them out and they all lived happily ever after.
It sort of reminded me of when I was 9 or 10 hiking with a buddy through a canyon, my buddy jumped over a small stream and on the other side he sinks into the ground about 2 feet, hundreds of big bumble bees come flying up out of the underground nest and proceeded to sting him about 100 places, we finally ran far enough that the bees went away, I carried him home and his mom took him to the hospital, he had welts for days but was ok.
:rofl: :rofl: you got lucky on that one!

April 04, 2005, 15:05

Man....that there...was funny. You need to go back though! Yup.....you need to pick all those clothes you left behind. Someone might stumble across that and
then there will be a search party organized to recover a possible body.

I'm still trying to recover....from laughing so hard

April 04, 2005, 18:13
Still no sympathy from the spouse. It's sad that she expects so little (or so much) from me and my antics.

On a side note, I was mowing yesterday and everytime I would round the far edge of the yard, I would catch myself looking in the direction of the above adventure. After several laps mowing, I had about all I could stand and grabbed an M39 out of the safe and proceeded to plink at the entrance hole from 200 or so yards away with a vengeance. Who knows what damage I was doing but I did feel a little better afterward. :biggrin:

I haven't given up. I'll be out and about this weekend to find another litter of coons.

Gunga Din
April 04, 2005, 22:36
And we'll be here, waiting to check out the AAR. ;)
That was a funny tale. Nice writing.