Coons n Possums n Dogs

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by TheBlueShepard, Jul 12, 2019.

  1. TheBlueShepard

    TheBlueShepard In the Brooder

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    I lost 8 hens and 3 roosters to neighborhood dogs last year. The area is divided between the neighbors who refuse to contain their k9s and the neighbors who have to deal with it. The county animal control reccomended to me personally, "next time, shoot it and bury it and save a phone call. $0.35 for your hollow point is a better deal than wasting your time or mine." So I did.

    Then I built a run yard. A 6' tall run yard. I'm in a very wooded area but with lota of neighbors. The run yard solved the dog problem preventatively. My nextdoor neighbor has had chickens for the past 11 years. 6 foot fence, no roof or netting, and never had a real problem other than feral cats stealing his chicks. I started out this spring with 21 chicks and 3 ducks. Chicks disappeared here and there and I attributed it to feral cats because the chicks were good escapers. We dwindled down to 18 hens and lost one duck.

    About a month ago I started losing them left and right and didn't know why. Vanishing chickens with feathers and blood leading up one side of the pen and down the other, then off into the woods. I thought it was a possum at first. So I caught one licking his chops while ogling my hens one night and sent two rounds through him. But the disappearances continued. I set box traps and the imp pulled the bait through the wires from outside the trap. I set a jaw trap atop the preferred fence post of entry, which routinely turned up baitless but untriggered. I set 5 snares on the same post. The hens and ducks continued to disappear and the feather trail was on the same post as the snares. I began securing the hens back in their old coop from which we had not lost any of them since they grew too large to escape. Somehow they kept disappearing. I became desperate.

    You ever have those impulses that you know you can't act out? Yeah... My impulse? Assassinate every uncontained mammal with front facing eyes within 3 acres and napalm every ground burrow and hollow tree in that area, then as the neighbors searched for their missing pets and their kids cried, and the woods rose in black smoke and glowing embers, I would blare highland bagpipes from the loudest bluetooth speaker I could find...

    But in reality, I began a series of steakouts. These severely affected my daytime efficiency, but I did enjoy sitting up all night with a 22 plinkster, a flashlight, and a sugar cane knife tucked in my pajama pants. My pangs were fruitless.

    Finally I began to work smarter instead of harder. I got me a baby monitor and hooked it up at the coop. This seemed to magically pause the attacks, until I went back to night shift. Then I was out of town for two nights. In those two nights I lost two more hens.

    6 hens. Thats all I had to show for it. The only real bight side was that I still had my easter egger. I needed an electric fence. I needed a roof on my run yard. I needed to bury wire around the perimeter. I needed a game camera. I needed better traps and a motion alarm. I needed money. I was broke. I was just going to have to improvise with what I had.

    The other morning I came home from work and my fancy white and grey hen with fluffy cheeks ( I don't remember what it's called, just that it was expensive) had gotten got. I had a clear trail of feathers to follow, so follow them I did. The blood was still warm. I traced the feathers and blood a good 68 yards into a wisteria thicket. I found bones. Warm, wet bones. This was not the work of some lone varmint. This was the work of a mother and some tiny somethings with lots and lots of teeth. I searched extensively for burrows but found none.

    I tweaked my traps, added bait, made a pot of coffee, and turned the baby monitor up. "They wont come with it raining," my wife said. I had faith though that this would be the night. I made several patrols, beat around the brush, and urinated on the fence posts several times to let that demon know who was the alpha in this pack. I waited. I drank coffee. Just normal noises and thunder and lightening.

    Then I heard it: a couple of sqwawks, some banging noises, and then silence. I grabbed the rifle and flashlight, and dashed out into the drizzles in my crocks and jocks. I sprinted up to the coop, snapped up into a ready position, and frantically scanned the perimeter of the pen. Nothing. Woodline - nothing. Treetops - nothing. I counted my birds and all 6 were still present. I looked at my plump buff orpington who was pacing in the mud and said, "Sarge, you fat cults. Don't fall off the roost again and scare me like that or I might shoot you instead." I went back inside.

    Then I heard it: squawks, banging on the wire, a bit of commotion - but I heard a different sound this time. I heard wings flapping. I reinacted the same drill, except this time I did have on some pants. As ai neared the coop, I saw my hens all on the ground. The roost had cane dislodged from the wall and was lying beside them. A brief moment of relieved disappointment poked its head around the back corner of my mind. Then I frantically realized that there were 5 hens standing on the coop floor. I snapped back into kill mode. I went straight to the favorite fence post and, behold, the banded bandit himself: procyon lotor. I took aim for his T box, and noticed that she had a live hostage (my expensive easter egger). "You devil..." I muttered under my breath as the pouring rain ran down my face, highlighting my nose in my peripheral vision with every flash of lightening. I immediately took the largest available arternative target, which was the coon's ham on the starboard side of the post. My shot struck true, and the ravenous rat fell from head level. Still grasping my hen, she broke for the woods. I sent 5 more rounds through her back as she ran. She and my egger disappeared into the thick underbrush. I tracked her a short distance, heard her fall from a tree and begin running again, then heard her cough and cry out. Movement ceased. After some silence I began to call my hen. She came to me limping from the thicket. I took her up, provided care, and returned her to the coop.

    Yes, I literally created this entire post just to vent. This has no educational value.
     

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  2. mdquilts

    mdquilts Chirping

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    Sorry for your losses but man that was a great read. You may have created a new category of suspense novels! Chicken mysteries! Glad you got the predator and saved the chicken!
     
  3. Matzwd

    Matzwd Songster

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    That was the most exciting chicken snatching story ever. Glad you got the monster! How's the fancy chicken doing?
     
    noregerts and 50-45-1 like this.
  4. mowin

    mowin Songster

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    In a way, it is educational. You learned your coop and run is far from predator proof. You got this bandit, but there will be more.
    Get the coop done first so at least you, and the gals, can sleep at night.
     
  5. Mybackyardpeepers

    Mybackyardpeepers Crowing

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    I think your post has been the longest one I have read in it's entirety!!! I am so sorry for your misfortune, don't give up is very educational advice! I hope you decide to replenish your flock and definitely hope that coon is gone for good. Best of luck.
     
    TheBlueShepard likes this.
  6. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

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    For those looking for wisdom, be certain to scrutinize this method: I set a jaw trap atop the preferred fence post of entry, which routinely turned up baitless but untriggered. That is how we used to purposely catch owls (illegally) for dispatching. Do not use the approach.


    Otherwise, I smell something familiar and unpleasant on this one.
     
  7. noregerts

    noregerts Songster

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    I don't know what you do for a living but you definitely should write! That post is hilarious, even with the sad parts :D:D.
    Raccoons suck. Been there. Electric fencing is your friend.
     
  8. Mybackyardpeepers

    Mybackyardpeepers Crowing

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    I know I'm going to get some back lash from this reply, but knock on wood I have not had an actual attack on my flock yet but if I do I will be live trapping and turning loose. That said I am less than 2-3 ish miles from a nature center! So far coons have been my only issue, besides a possible (not thinking it was) lone coyote in my back yard.
     
  9. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

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    As requested.
    :smack

    We do what we feel is appropriate so keep up good work but stay away from my house.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2019
    imnukensc likes this.
  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    My Coop
    Great story, well told.

    :gig
     

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