I live next to a marsh which very well may be the Gulf Coast’s favorite habitat for raccoons. Of course there are many other animals living in and around the marsh, like swamp bunnies, squirrels, possums, a gator, turtles, and birds of all types. It almost sounds idyllic, and I suppose it would be, if it were not for the coons; those furry cute little rascals that appear so cat-like
that they fooled French explorers into misnaming a Mississippi Gulf Coast barrier island – Cat Island -- instead of perhaps what it should’ve been named -- Coon Island.
One might surmise that highly intelligent coons living in close proximity to human beings might one day venture into places where they shouldn’t be -- like a man’s attic. However, I’ve determined that the expectation they will remain in their natural habitat only holds true if you have another animal or two, perhaps
a dog, to keep them at bay. We once had two mutt dogs, Molly and Bear, who were exceptional at keeping these devious darlings at bay. But they’ve gone to doggie-heaven and so the “guards at the gate” are no longer with us.
For the most part coons don’t cause big problems. In fact, some people cultivate pet qualities in their neighborly coons. But these are probably the same people who take more than three anti-psychotic medications every day, apparently oblivious to the fact that they (the coons) can carry rabies, dysentery, roundworms, and bacterial intestinal infections.
I thought we might have a problem though with our little furry friends when I began to see signs of their presence: coon poop (which by the way could pass for a small dog’s poop), stolen bird seed and corn feed, dug up and turned over potted plants, and paw prints all over the patio -- and then, a possible breech in the eaves. The thought that bandit-eyed faces were traipsing around the property with each other, just outside my back door, much less in the attic, engaging in who knows what, while we quietly slumbered, was revolting to think about.
Turned over garbage cans are annoying, but when they cause bigger problems like attic-related stuff that impact the bank account, then that’s when they’ve crossed the line. I’ve heard and appreciate they can be difficult to eradicate. But I also heard about C.J.‘s legendary yet simple method of coon eradication
and so not being well versed in the art of coon trapping I decided to give him a call. Last summer, he trapped and released 37 coons on his property -- and not one returned. I know what you’re probably thinking: “How could he be sure he wasn’t re-trapping and releasing the same coon?” Well then keep reading.
C.J. says he uses a Havahart® trap. For bait, anything and everything will do. Coons are not unlike some hungry people who if they get hungry enough will eat just about anything -- even a coon. He initially thought about executing the trapped coons bullet-style but his conscience made him uncomfortable with the idea of pulling the trigger while looking into their darling eyes. So he chose to release them away from his home, seven miles up in the Three Rivers area, near the Biloxi River where it was sparsely populated. He figured he would end up making a total of maybe four or five trips. This worked well until the 6th coon was trapped and he realized it was beginning to cost him in gasoline and time. Plus he couldn’t be absolutely certain that a mama coon
wouldn’t find her way back since he had read that the instinctive drive of a mama coon with babies can cause her to re-track back to her den from as far away as 20 miles.
He was lamenting to himself about the dilemma when he chanced upon some boys from up in the country who, upon overhearing him relate his problem at a Kangaroo stop, offered to take them off his hands. For they were also interested in lowering their grocery bill. They shared phone numbers and, true to their word, with the next coon caught, the country boys promptly fetched Coon No. 7. They loaded the confused thing in their trusty doggie transport house and hauled it home in the bed of their well-used pick-up and coons were suddenly on the menu up in the country. The lagniappe for C.J. was he received unsolicited detailed instructions on how to prepare and cook a coon, which in itself is an interesting blog for another day. But suffice it to say aside from purportedly tasting delicious (“like no other meat you’ve ever eaten”), it’s a three-hour process and involves fruits, vegetables, and Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning -- among other things.
At any rate, it only took eight 30-mile round trips before the country coon chefs realized the cost in gas was also eating into whatever they were saving on the grocery bill. To C.J.‘s chagrin, they never answered his call again, leaving him back at square one.
Because necessity is the mother of invention, it was then he chanced upon his revolutionary idea. He had read on the Internet that researchers had discovered that coons were as intelligent as rhesus monkeys and had memories that lasted as long as three years. He reckoned if coons are anything like humans that they might avoid returning to the cause of a bad memory, perhaps in the same manner that exes avoid each other. He decided he would create in the mind of the trapped coon a really bad memory, then release them back into the marsh. If his plan worked they would stay gone for maybe three years. In this way, he would be giving them a second chance, teach them a lesson in the process, and would not feel guilty about using the firearm if necessary. But he realized he had to somehow mark the trapped coon to know if that same coon returned. So for his marker he decided to use paint -- the spray kind -- that comes in neon orange. He would pop a spot on the little fella’s head and one on their furry little tail. In creating the bad memory, he would scold the powerless coon in a deep foreboding tone of voice, and then he'd vigorously rake a metal rod against the metal cage combined with a little gentle prodding here and there, and then give them their coon tattoos. C.J. says upon their release, they'd bolt out the cage so fast it reminded him of an orange comet; so fast they’d sometimes run slap head-on into his wooden privacy fence, before disappearing into the marsh never to be seen again.
C.J. continued to trap and release, trap and release, and trap and release, all the time being in awe over the apparent prolific mating habits of the North American raccoon. He trapped and released a total of 37 coons before the project finally and mercifully came to an end, all the while teaching an entire generation of coons a lesson, not to mention giving them all matching tattoos along with one bad collective memory. Not one coon ever returned!
I asked him if he really thought it was the bad memory or if it was something else that was responsible for his method's success. He said he didn’t know and didn’t care but only that he accomplished his mission in having the coons stay where they belonged, in the marsh and out of his attic, and not having to murder them in the process. He said he was at peace with himself and that the cost of cleaning and repairing the attic insulation was reminder enough that his novel and successful eradication technique is valid and justified.