Some weeks ago I was in bed asleep at something like 3AM when I was awakened to the sound of a bear trying to claw his way into my house, just outside my bedroom. After a few seconds of bleauuurrrgh as I woke up, I realized the crazy sound was real. So I grabbed the flashlight, the cell phone and the 1911, sneaked around to the front of the house and stepped out the front door. What I found was, instead of a bear, a whole friggen *army* of racoons who had taken a sudden interest in my place. Half a dozen of them were in the process of actually climbing my walls, right outside my bedroom. Another was climbing up a post on my porch, about 4 feet in front of me. Many more were milling about in the yard. When I turned the light on ‘em they got angry; fortunately they got spooked when I yelled at them and ran off. Good thing, too. Not sure what .45 hollowpoints would do to a raccoon at 4 feet, but I’d bet there’d've been a mess.

About a week later I heard screaming late at night. It was some sort of critter, but it was loud and relatively close. Once again, phone, flashlight, .45. The screaming was coming from an open farm building across the road; when I turned the light on it (one of those nifty cheapo 500 lumen lights), eyes looked back at me. *Lots* of eyes. Couple dozen of ‘em. I figured it must’ve been Raccoon Fight Club, something I wanted nothing to do with, so I started back. On my way I walked along the field of corn I swept the light along it and saw a face looking back at me. One with lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a dolls eyes. After the initial startlement, I figured out what it was. Took photos the next day, including this craptacular cel phone shot:

Image0

Someone hung a  stuffed deer head in the corn. Awesome. Just a little disturbing at 3 in the damned morning on a pitch-black night with screaming hordes of angry critters. Critters that, I noticed, had spilled out of the farm building and followed me home. As I approached my front porch I heard something, swept the light back across the road to the corn, and saw that army of raccoons spilling out of the corn and swarming across the road at full gallop, heading my way.

Juuuuuuuuust a little odd.

  • Brianna Aubin

    I think I would have been terrified in your shoes. That story is reeeaaalllly disturbing.

    • Anonymous

      I grew up near (not in) farm country. As a kid, I’d spend several weeks each summer at a grandparents place out in the real country; their back yard butted up against a corn farm. Early on I learned that there’s something creepy about corn fields late at nigh. With little to no moonlight, and the wind blowing through the field causing the stalks and dry leaves to rattle against each other, there’s just a sens of not-right-ness. This has been taken advantage of in movies like “Children of the Corn” and especially “Signs.”

      And out here in the sticks, I’ve seen and heard a *lot* of weirdness late at night. If you want to get creeped out, this place’ll do it. Still, I’ll take the subtle almost paranormal disturbingness of this place over the actual unpleasantness of urban areas any day (and any night). Ghosts and UFOs pose a threat only in the hypothetical. Humans might want to actually bash you over the noggin and abscond with your stuff.

      Still, those were especially odd nights. Eight years I’ve been here, and this is the first time I’ve seen a living raccoon. Lots and lots of dead ones… daredevils who tried to beat traffic late at night, mostly. But never live ones. And then… a whole troop of ‘em, for some reason trying to climb my walls. I never pulled the trigger, probably didn’t come especially close, but damned straight I drew down on ‘em, especially that one clambering up the railing around my porch, just a few feet away.

      I’m a pretty rational guy, don’t have much use for superstitious nonsense and paranormal jibberjabber, but I’ve seen some stuff out here that I can only rationally explain as synapses misfiring. But nothing quite does it like a couple dozen animals each big enough to *really* mess you up actually coming at you.

      • Brianna Aubin

        You don’t usually see live raccoons? That’s odd. I’m in the suburbs, and while I don’t see them often, I definitely see them pretty regularly. Usually messing around with the dumpsters.

        • Anonymous

          > You don’t usually see live raccoons?

          Out here? Nope. Remember, this is farmland… instead of scurrying around streets and down alleys, critters have miles and miles of tall plants to wander through. Generally the only time they’re out in the open is when crossing roads, which is when they sometimes discover that cars are fast and heavy.

          We also have many herds of deer out here. They are way bigger than raccoons, and you almost never see them in broad daylight. Except the ones bent in half at the side of the road.

          The raccoons out here have lots of “natural” food to eat and don’t need to bother with dumpsters. Seems they might have a taste for human flesh, though.

          • Adam Holtz

            Or cat flesh. You might want to hide your cats since you can never be too careful…

          • Brian

            Common mythconception that raccoons “hunt” cats. Raccoons are in the business of making more raccoons. Getting into injury inducing fights goes squarely against that plan. Raccoons will get aggressive if cornered and (very) fearful. But any raccoon will much prefer to get the hell out of a bad situation rather than fight.

            Where I live, raccoons and possums get a bad rap because very ill-informed people believe they’re dangerous to their pets. If anything the opposite is true. A dog will do much more harm to a raccoon or possum.

            Lastly, though there are documented cases of rabies in racoons, the known concentrations of the disease are all in the Eastern US. There’s a mounting body of evidence that the Mississippi River is providing a natural fence for any outbreaks. If you’re dumb enough to confront a raccoon to the point where you get bit, you’re risk of rabies is incredibly low unless you live in some select locations in the Eastern US.

            No reason to demonize them or any critter for that matter. They’ll probably be around long after our species has exited the stage.

          • Michael the Somewhat Civilized

            I live in a city. Urbanity — good and bad, mostly bad — all around me. I’ve been here since 1996. Before that, I lived in the suburbs. My back yard fence was against the edge of an acre of trees, across the road from a few more dozen acres of trees. The only wild animals I saw were the occasional squirrel, one lost ferret, and, in the last couple of years I was there, a few possums. In the city, surrounded by concrete and crazy humans, my residences have been visited by squirrels daily and by raccoons nightly; for a while there were rabbits in the next-door neighbor’s bad yard (mine has a huge fence around it), but the possums who used to saunter (only Monday through Friday — I never saw one on the weekend) across the front and back porch steps are gone now. There’s more wildlife here than there ever was out there.

            That raccoon invasion would have creeped me out. I’d not have slept for days. I don’t know why, because I have college kids living all around me, and they have much the same schedule and behavior.

      • Buck Weaver

        Speaking of “Signs,” I figure you might be able to answer this question…if you were an alien for whom water is a deadly substance, would running through a corn field during the night really be the safest idea? I’ve always heard corn fields can get rather damp at night.

        • Anonymous

          There was a whole lot about that movie that was kinda… dumb. Yes, corn fields at night are not a good place for a species that reacts to water like it was hydrochloric acid. But then… farm country in the midwest during late summer would be a monumentally bad place for such a species, with humidity levels that would make breathing air for them like breathing in fluorine. I would imagine Pennsylvania would be the same.

  • bandit66

    I don’t mind critters as long as they keep to themselves. When they become a nuisance I resort to my old Sears tube fed .22LR with Aguila Super Colibri and a 70s made in Japan scope. At a blazing 500 fps the 20 gr bullets are just right for smaller critters. The report is less than most pellet rifles as long as the barrel is more than 16″. You have to manually cycle the rifle and past 25 yards there is very little energy left in the bullet. The up side is it does not scare the other critters too much. There is almost zero chance the bullet will over penetrate or over travel and the noise level is so low it will not attract attention. Nice easy way to get rid of the exact problem animals you don’t want.
    The Grey Squirrels in my yard are so used to the “noise” they only stop long enough to look around and go right back to eating. Meanwhile the Red ones are taking a dirt nap.

  • Michael the Somewhat Civilized

    Did you ever find out where the deer head came from? Don’t they usually have a taxidermist’s card on them somewhere?

    • Anonymous

      A few days later I asked my neighbor/corn-field-farmer about it. His kids put it out there as a prank on a friend of theirs… it’d been out there for a *month* before I saw it.

  • Siergen

    Definitely sounds like the start of a horror movie to me. As the weird events intensify, the Hallowed Eve draws near…

    • Anonymous

      Critters acting weird is a well-respected cliche for “uh-oh, somethin’s a-comin.’”

  • Edohiguma

    I have that with cats and kestrels. Admittedly, I live in a city (luckily it’s the outskirts), but the cats from all over the neighborhood seem to congregate right under my window. And then, when the females are in heat, and all the tomcats come… oh boy… It’s like Cat Wars right there.

    Kestrels are a different story. They fornicate on my windowsill.

  • publiusr

    We are seeing more and more of this as time goes on:
    http://www.sacbee.com/2011/09/08/3892747/latest-raccoon-attack-raises-question.html

    Some animals present with rabies differently:
    http://www.ehow.com/list_5904752_signs-rabies-raccoons.html
    They also like to go for the face. Traps may work better than shooting if they show mob behavior–you can’t shoot all of them at once if they decide to swarm you if you have gotten too close.

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