Night Stalkers

The camp grounds are slowly disappearing into a blanket of darkness. The air stills as the sky looses light. There is little movement up and down the road.  An occasional bird calls out one last time while hunkering down for the night. A single door slams. It’s quiet time.  Sleep time.  The only remaining sound is the splash of an occasional fish jumping. The day has faded away. 

The night is still enough to hear the dew forming, and dripping off of the moss filled live oaks to the ground.  Drifting, drifting off to sleep.  Drip…………drip…..rustle……

Slight rustling of the leaves becomes amplified.  Slight movement in the branches becomes billowing.  Night is here.  The darks silence is deafening. 

The dogs sit upright, with ears perked, at attention.  They listen for the slightest threat outside the safety of our tent.  They remain focused and at attention as I drift in and out of sleep. 

They are triggered by some super fine sound my naked human ear cannot capture.  They begin a low growl.  And I, the stealth hunter, am dialed in to pick up on the slightest of movement or sounds, starting with their alert.  I am beginning to feel like we are not alone.  My senses are kicking into the fight or flight reaction mode.   There is someone out there, watching us.  I grab my axe, headlamp and a hand held light, and quietly step out of the tent. 

Who is out here?

I flash my lights across the campsite and into the line of mangroves. The hair on my arms and back of the neck is standing up.  I can feel something is out there.  We are being watched.  I flash the lights around the tent, the cook tent, the car, and over to the mangroves.  Nothing.  I go back to the tent.  The dogs continue their low growl.  I shine the light over to the campsites besides me and into the dark mangrove border.  There is a shadowy movement in the branches. Something is out there.

One.  Two.  Three sets of eyes catch my light and flicker in the mangroves. 

Four, Five…Six………..seven sets of eyes flickering in the mangroves. 

I stamp the ground hard and cry out “GIT!!!!!” and the eyes disappear. 

Now the dogs are in a barking frenzy, trying to escape the tent and race to my assistance. I run to the tent to calm them down, tripping on palm branches and miscellaneous stuff on the ground.

Crap!  Ouch!  Ugh!  And I’m back to the tent.  I drop the axe to the ground.  What was that?  I look over to the road, and spy a big round dark image about the size of a raccoon scooting across the road, towards the line of mangroves.

It is a raccoon. 

Rustling in the branches returns.  I shine my light, and capture more eyes.  One, two, four, five, oh my goodness, it’s raccoons. I sneak over to where I’ve stored my case of water and grab 3 bottles.  I creep back over to the edge of camp, and shine my light again, capturing several sets of eyes.  Then I, the stealth hunter, with precision aim and strength, whale those three bottles of water into the mangroves and knock those raccoons right out of the branches.  This induces alarmed raccoon chatter, more scrambling, another barking outburst, and then dead silence.  I return to the tent, and crawl back to bed.  All is well.

Twenty minutes pass. 

The dogs begin to growl again.  They will not relax.  Really?  Once again, I am creeping out of the tent with the flashlight. 

Eight… nine…thirteen….Holy Hanna count them, fifteen raccoons in the mangrove line! They are organizing.  Unionizing.  They are much closer this time, and are closing in.    One steps out in the open and rises up on its hind legs, mere feet from the cook tent.  The rest remain hovering in the mangroves, waiting for instructions.  Clearly they are planning a takeover.  Not my campsite!  This is my campsite that I paid for.  With great conviction, I, the stealth hunter, stand my ground and grab more water bottles, lobbing them into the mangrove line, stamping, hissing and screaming out “GIT!!!” It seems to be working—but just in case, I take things further, lunging toward the coon in the open, then running up and down along the mangrove line and vacant campsites, crying out threats and obscenities and whaling water bottles into the branches.

The coons chatter and scramble away into the dark.  One runs to the big blue garbage dumpster at the end of the road, another up a nearby palm tree, some are bailing into the water, and several leap out of the branches, past me and bolt across the road! 

I win.

The mangroves are now void of raccoons.  Our campsite is now void of raccoons. The dogs are now quiet. And I am exhausted.  There is dead silence.  I return to the tent, and crawl back to bed.  All is well. 

Twenty minutes pass. 

The dogs begin to growl again……………

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Comments

  1. What a night you had! I so enjoy your writing and, although I maybe should have anticipated it wasn’t really over, that last “all is well” had me hopeful that you would be able to sleep the rest of the night LOL. Those racoons are determined little creatures, aren’t they?!

  2. LOL – that was wonderful! I suspect you ended up with your own version of racoon eyes – ringed circles of tiredness. And I’m thinking those wily racoons might have tricked you into supplying their monthly quota of bottled water.

  3. I loved your adventure! In fact, I called my family together and read it to them. We decided we want to send our raccoons to come live with you! I’m sure my pre-K class is going to love this since we have studied raccoons! Thank you for a real live adventure!!

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