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An unforgettable battle of wits
francis bond
Francis Bond, a Richmond Hill resident, occassionally writes on topics that interest him. - photo by File photo

(Fool me once shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.)

I wonder who coined that idiom. It’s certainly what I thought of when I was trying to trap a rummaging raccoon that had eaten all the food I put out for my cat while I took an extended trip, and several times after that.

This raccoon didn’t seem to follow the characteristics of other raccoons. He seemed shrewder.

Early on Nov. 12, I had set a trap with care, following all the instructions. The following morning, I would have bet that raccoon was a trapped rascal. Walking across the deck, gloatingly at my success, carefully opening the tool house door and peeping in, there it was: an empty cage. All the bait was gone. The floor around the cage wasn’t even disturbed.

It was as if the raccoon came in, leaned against the cage and studied the situation. From the opposite end, he apparently carefully removed the bait by reaching his paw through the 1-inch wire gage without disturbing the trigger. The cage was still intact. I closed the door, went back inside and told my wife.

“Well, OK, I’ll make some adjustments and get him for sure the next time,” I thought. (He fooled me once.)

On the next round, I attached fine mesh wire around the opposite end of the cage, where he couldn’t reach in for the bait. He was an experienced raccoon that had been there and done that. He knew the trick. So I baited the trap again.

The next morning, anxiously peeping in the tool house, there it was again, emotional disappointment. The trap was turned over and the bait gone. He did it again. The cage door had been triggered, but the raccoon was not inside. The bait was all over the floor.

He had turned the trap on its side as if he knew exactly how to throw the trap door without him in the cage.

He had worked around both of my schemes. I was at wit’s end, and shame on me. (He had fooled me twice)

This raccoon was angry. He had moved the cage around, shaking things loose. This time, I nailed the cage to the floor so he couldn’t flip it. I laid plywood on the trap mechanism so he couldn’t reach through and trip it from the outside. The stage was set again.

Lying in bed that night, staring up at the ceiling, I wondered how many other tool houses that racoon had visited before mine.

The next morning, after breakfast, my wife asked me to take a look. I expected the same. “What was it going to take next time?” I thought.

For the third time at the tool house, I peered in. There in my cage was a huge creature, a mischievous rascal, growling, showing his teeth, looking up at me. He had almost freed himself, from the looks of the damage to my cage.

Looking him in the eye, I said, “Fool me once shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on ‘you’.

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