Well, long story short, the other night just before bed time while we were putting the goats in Melissa opened her tack room door and there he stood, a huge, healthy and sleek male raccoon, big as life standing there eating cat food. The barn was empty and I knew we'd never get a better chance. I told Melissa to keep an eye on him while I came over to the house to get (and load) an appropriate firearm. This SHOULD have taken no more than a few seconds, and had we not just purchased our very first gun safe, I'm pretty sure it *would* have taken no more than a few seconds. But we had just purchased a new gun safe, and instead of a few seconds it took a few minutes....quite a few minutes actually, because I couldn't get the gun safe open for love nor money ! By the time I got back to the barn with gun at the ready the raccoon was laughing at me from somewhere in the next county. Chalk up one for Mr. Raccoon. (Melissa here; while waiting for what seemed like an eternity for Jason Mr. Raccoon ate the cat food and then proceeded to start throwing things around in my tack room. The tack room always looks like a bomb went off in it these days and I've stopped bothering to clean up the mess as it just gets created again the next evening. The raccoon especially loves to throw around my tack cleaning supplies and brushes. When he had wrapped up another pleasant evening of eating cat food and destroying my tack room he shimmied his way up to the loft, shimmied back down by the wash rack and exited through the wash rack window.)
A couple nights later I got a second try. Once again the barn was empty, and this time Melissa caught him coming in the window in her wash rack and she watched him shimmy up the beam and into the hay loft. This time I was slightly more prepared and I got into the gun safe pretty quickly. Unfortunately, I grabbed a single shot .22.....not the best choice when dealing with raccoons (or anything else), but I'm a fair shot and I did have the presence of mind to grab a few bullets...three actually....on my way out. I correctly assumed we'd find him a few minutes later in the tack room eating cat food and when Melissa opened the door I discovered I was right ! However, I didn't have long to look at him because he scurried up the beam and disappeared into the hayloft just as I got off my first shot. No matter, still had two in my hand, so I loaded up and prepared for round two.
Have you ever seen (or played) the shooting games found at a carnival, where a small target will appear for a split second before disappearing and reappearing in a different and unexpected place ? Well, that's exactly what Mr. Raccoon did as he poked his head down from various parts of the hay loft to look at me. And eventually I took the bait and shot, missing him again.
At this point, I'm down to one bullet and I know I need to take a different strategy or this raccoon is going to get away from me again. This time, instead of getting baited into taking a shot, I decided to wait for him to exit the barn via the wash rack window. I figured he'd be moving pretty quickly, so I sighted in on the beam I figured he'd have to shimmy down. After a few minutes of poking his head down at me from various places, that's exactly what he did, too. But he was moving quickly. I put a bullet right through the center of the beam he shimmied down; the problem was he was headed out the window by that time, chittering at me the whole time. Three shots, three misses. And one raccoon who's ever fatter than he was the last time I saw him. Sigh.