Day Writing by By Heather Hamilton-Maude: Man and Vermin
Raccoons and skunks make my husband peg out on the excitement and irritation scale. He hits 7,000 rpm’s in seconds. No matter what he was doing, he is immediately coon or skunk hunting when he happens across one.
I, on the other hand, am like a Chevy with a speedometer that quit working. I bounce along at zero, occasionally doing a slow spike toward the actual speed being traveled, before plummeting back down to the zero line. I find no excitement in vermin hunting, nor do I always see the necessity of dropping everything to immediately get a gun and eradicate them.
I was sitting on the couch one evening with a tired, crying kid, while the other watched a favorite show, when the phone rang. I hesitantly answered, and was immediately informed my husband had a raccoon AND a skunk cornered in a grain bin, and I needed to bring his gun and the good .22 shells.
What are the odds.
I headed to the basement to gather gun and bullets before heading across the yard. Upon reaching my husband he unceremoniously disarmed me, replacing my only form of protection with a DeWalt flashlight. They will do a lot of stuff according to their website, though beating off an attacking raccoon in pitch darkness isn’t listed anywhere.
My husband explained the situation to me as though we were at war. Telling me to keep an eye on the healthy-sized raccoon, who was pacing and peeking out from each end of a grain bin door propped against the far interior wall.
No problem. That raccoon saw the light, literally.
I was also in charge of providing enough light for my husband to load his rifle. As I waited without my weapon of choice, I asked why he couldn’t simply set traps? Maybe the two brand new ones his mom sent down a month or two back?
He replied he wasn’t sure how they worked, nor where he should put them. To which I pointed out that exactly where we were standing seemed a popular nighttime destination among the species’ he was targeting.
Nothing. I was ignored as he finally got his gun loaded. The raccoon continued to pace back and forth, while a little tuft of skunk tail under the middle of the door was the only evidence he was still present
My husband verbally went through the options, as we waited. I began to wonder why I chose to stay in my open-backed house shoes, and didn’t think to grab a coat. Finally, my husband couldn’t take it anymore, and decided to try to shoot the skunk under the door. I quietly stepped behind him and held the flashlight out to the side, in the general direction of our foe.
The reverberation of a .22 shell off a solid old grain bin door, inside a 2200-bushel bin is, shall we say, impressive.
“Man, that’s a good door,” my husband exclaimed. Then he stated he would be right back.
That phrase always makes its way into a male-led “adventure.”
Off he went to finagle something, while I kept an eye on a raccoon who I am certain by that point was deaf, temporarily blinded, and wondering what kind of wrong turn he took when leaving the feed row earlier.
My husband returned with something to pull the door over, so he could get a clear shot at the skunk and coon. He enacted his plan, and shot the skunk.
At that time, the raccoon decided he had enough of whatever was going on, and decided to exit the grain bin.
There I was, in my house shoes, cold, and armed with a flashlight. I did what any sane woman would in that moment – I screamed and jumped out of his way. My husband hollered that I was absolutely no help, grabbed the flashlight from me, and took off behind the coon with his hands quite full of firearm and flashlight.
I wanted to be mad, but was so relieved we finally agreed on my level of assistance regarding coon hunting that I just went to the sow barn and finished chores. A last glance over my shoulder showed my husband hot on that coon’s tail, dodging through grain bins with enough of his rifle shoved nearly to where the sun didn’t shine that the little creature would have been a goner if not for the flashlight illuminating the crazy chase from his other hand.
My husband later returned to provide light for us to walk to the house with. He announced the coon – he was a fast one – escaped. But, man what a relief to have finally shot the skunk living under a pallet in the calving barn. My greatest relief was in finding both kids quietly enjoying their show when we walked in the house.
Somewhere in this story is the vast majority of what you need to know about the differences between men and women. I don’t claim to know or understand most of them. However, there is a certain wise, if hard of hearing, raccoon on the Cheyenne River who is largely an expert on the subject after spending an evening in our grain bin.