Mystery Killer Caught on Camera

Our 5-acre homestead is situated perfect for isolation. To our left is a another 5-acre field that’s empty – and beyond that our neighbors have 10 beautiful acres. Behind us is a 40 acre preserve – sort of like a rat’s nest of thick prickly pokey Florida bush, palm trees, oak trees with overgrown moss that hang from tall branches all the way to the ground. We call that the “Freaky Forest” – you can’t navigate through unless there’s a made path.

To the right, there’s a dirt road that dead ends in the Freaky Forest.

This makes gardening in my holey bathrobe less embarrassing.

But it also makes keeping our animals safe much harder. In addition to the occassional grazing deer, we have opossum, raccoons, skunks, eagles, hawks, gators as co-habitators of our land. This winter has been particularly bad. We’ve lost all of our ducks (even the babies) except for one — and most of our chicken. It’s devastating to wake up in the morning and finding feathers scattered.

I’m torn. I believe that animals on our homestead deserve the best life possible – which means

1) being free to roam, forage, peck, hunt, explore and do whatever animals like to do

2) kept safe from predators

The chickens go into their Palace Coop at night and Scott had built a separate coop for the ducks.

It’s a tough balance. The predators are sneaky and smart. They dig under the fence, jump over the fence, tear wire and stalk nonstop. Basically, they do what they are supposed to do to survive themselves. As ugly and nasty as these guys are, I get it. balance. nature. survival. But there’s only so much fencing and protective measures we can do before it starts looking like Ft. Knox here. I don’t like electric fences (dogs/kids).

In addition to losing our ducks and chickens, the predators were also getting into our poultry feed bins (even secured with bungee cords) and my compost bin. Every morning, we’d find the lid of the compost bin upturned and scraps scattered everywhere. It began happening so regularly that Scott began calling it the “Lunch Box.”

Last week, we finally set up an infrared motion-activated camera to see if we could catch glimpse of the mystery killer.

Hmmm….what is that??


Nothing for the next couple of nights. Then a little action, but the killer managed to steer clear of the camera.

damn-raccoon-0005  damn-raccoon-0007

We kept the camera going on during the day.



WAIT!! What’s that?????


Oh. That’s husband setting up a trap. We put crispy bacon inside the trap (following specific instructions from the trap manufacturer — “CRISPY” bacon, not soggy bacon. Apparently, predators are very picky about their bacon.


Bye Scott!


Next day – NOTHING. Drats! Foiled again by the mystery killer!

The Lunch Box was still open, chicken feed bin upturned.

Why wasn’t the killer tempted by the CRISPY BACON??? Why go after boring plain chicken feed and rotting compost and not the bacon?

Well, we finally found out why:

damn-raccoon-0016-2 damn-raccoon-0016-2b damn-raccoon-0016-3 damn-raccoon-0016-3b




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Comments 31

  1. Kelly

    Oh man, raccoons are, unfortunately, quite smart. I hope you find a solution! My sister has 2 cows in a small barn and her husband would ask his daughter (who helps feed them), “Why did you leave the light on?” She didn’t. The raccoons figured out how to grab the pull chain and turn on the light so they could see where to find the food! Another story: we have a large swingset with a playhouse attached. One day a mom and three large-ish babies snoop around, climb the ladder and hang out in the playhouse, climbing the walls, etc. Then they leave. A few days later, I see the mom climb up, look around for anything nearby, then goes inside. A few seconds later, the babies start climbing down the walls. She put them there while she did her thang then picked them up. We were unwitting raccoon babysitters! 🙂

  2. Stacey Monroe

    Great story….you’re illustration on the last pic had me laughing….not at you plight but at your (obvious) good nature and sense on humor. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Jane

    Lions and tigers and bears, oh my ! Big fat raccoon ass GOODBYE ! LOL. I really was expecting a huge bear or Chupacabra at the end of your story. So much more exciting than a raccoon. So sorry about the loss of your animals. But you are right, the raccoon was doing what it needs to. I wish I had a solution for you. But my “farming” is limited to my screen porch so I can’t help. Maybe one of your other readers will be able to help. I hope so. It does confound me that the raccoon didn’t somehow get the bacon though ( I know I would have, love crispy bacon) , they are supposed to be so clever and dexterous. Guess your raccoon just likes chicken better.

  4. Sheila

    Oh my goodness this gave a good chuckle. Dang I would not want to meet that raccoon ass in a dark alley!!!

  5. Jeanna

    Gators and Pythons and ‘Coons, OH MY!!!
    Fear not, many parts are edible I’ve learned living in the South, but never have indulged. Somehow ‘Coon and Dumplings wasn’t that appealing…..
    Perhaps if you become proficient in trapping, there will be a new recipe series: Jaden Gump’s ‘Coon Company Cookbook!!
    Fried ‘Coon, Stewed ‘Coon, Sweet and Sour ‘Coon, the possibilities are endless!! Happy Hunting!!

  6. Anne Wright

    I was thinking it was a human. Those raccoons are something else! He knew where to find some good food. Good luck! I enjoy your recipes and reading about your adventures! Life is wonderful!

  7. Deb Ragno

    Love it! I’ve stepped out on my deck in the evening to bring in the cat’s food bowl and found possums, raccoons, snakes, and other cats feasting. When a bear took down my bird feeders twice, I bought a game camera. So far, no pics of wild life, just grandkids that like to make silly faces into the camera, lol. And one deer butt. It is a delicate balance. We live on the edge of a state forest and encounters with wildlife are expected.

  8. Johnna

    Well… I can give give you the morbid/honest answer. My husband and I as well as my parents have chickens. We fortunately haven’t had any problems, but two of my parents chickens were killed by raccoons. And that’s is not a natural circle of life thing. Yes, raccoons eat chickens and ducks… But now that it has found an easy and lazy source of food… It won’t stop. Until they’re all dead. And you can get more and it will come back for them too. In my parents case there was more than one raccoon because they’re pack animals and very smart… So the morbid part… If you kill one, the others are smart enough not to come back… We know this from experience and now the chickens are back to free ranging and happy and safe. Hope everything works out for your girls. It’s hard to watch them go one by one!

  9. Linda

    My husbands family are farmers is South Dakota, and they use antifreeze and Coke as a raccoon cocktail. They drink it walk away and die. Sounds harsh, but they loose all their poultry if they don’t.

  10. Teri Melton

    On Facebook I really enjoy The Chicken Chick and The Chicken Whisperer. They both have lots of great information about protecting from predators, and diseases and care.

  11. Tammy

    Hi Jaden, The first pic is of a owl. As far as raccoons go, steal boxes and locks are the only way to keep them out. If you decide on getting more chickens and ducks you may want to consider throwing in a couple of guinea hens, they are great alarm systems for when predators are around, and they kill snakes and ticks. If you need any help let me know I have lived in Florida all my life, and grew up on a farm. 🙂

  12. Jane

    Whoa, thats one big raccoon! We’ve been having similar problems w raccoons, opossums, and squirrels. They over turned my tomato plants, pick at the trash, and scratch this particular spot on the roof. The scratching part is the opossum, we think. Im not sure what to do at this point other than stop planting for now. We may try again in the spring, but who knows. It’s a jungle out there, lol.

    1. Jan

      Joyce, when you decide to run a hot wire, run two lines. One about 6 inch’s off the ground and another one above it about a foot higher up. They can’t go under, though or over. Your kids will respect it and your pets will steer clear too. And if you have a male dog, well he will get the message real fast. If you have never used a hot box before, they are quite easy to set up. It’s not like an electric fence, it pulsates on and off, on and off. Only maintenance needed is to keep weeds away from the wire. But some of the hot box’s or buzz box, can burn the weeds. I raise pigs on a small farm and we had to keep the dirt away from the wire. The pigs root and push the dirt up to the wire to ground it out before trying to escape. Plus they would test it every day just to make sure it’s on. Good luck.

    2. Jan

      I was going to say, that’s a small trap. You need a bigger trap for coons. A wildlife control officer told me, that the way they dispatch the coons is with a .22 after it was trapped. A trapper friend of mine said (might be hard to swallow) but to drown it while it’s still in the trap. But a coon that size might be hard to carry around. Once you have killed it, you might contact the local Boys Scouts and see if they want a coon to skin. Or you might be able to find a trapper who would gladly take it for you.

  13. Arthur in the Garden!

    Yes. Racoons are a problem with chickens here, too! The coop must be secure. I have experienced the coons pulling the chicken’s legs through the fence so the chickens need to be able to sleep where they cannot be reached.

  14. Aaron Greenwood

    Speaking from my parents experience of having a raccoon in their garage constantly, in Texas…get a trap that just catches it and doesnt harm it in any way…then drive it far away and set it free…Lure it in with cat food…
    sure you may have other raccoons that come along over time…but this one likes your house because there is an abundance of food. Thats the best suggestion I have short of serving him for dinner. Best of luck.

    1. StoneMaven

      If you do try a coon sized trap, skip the bacon and buy a can of CHEAP catfood. Do Not Open The Lid! Use a church key type opener and make holes all around the lid so the coon can smell it but has to work to get at any of the food. Then tie the can to the back of the trap with a wire through the ring pull. That way they can’t just steal the bait and go. Works for egg stealing skunks too, but only if you don’t have kitties! We finally had to get a guard dog to stop the coons here. They were not only killing the poultry, but caught a couple of the younger barn cats too. Our Anatolian Shepard put an end to everything but the skunks. He thinks they are cats…but then so do the cats. Let me tell you, it’s unnerving to come home and see 3 skunks cozied up to the kitties at the food bowl! DH shot 7 in 2 weeks this fall.

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  15. Uno

    Sensational story!!! Very good reason that you discovered! 😀
    Bud! Feeding raccoons … also lead to lose their fear of humans … turning them into pests for you and your neighbors. 🙂

  16. Karla White

    Jaden. I got the idea of my coop from you! We put it on a cement slab and used 1/2 x 3 galvanized after welded English wire. We live on a 200 acre ranch and have lots of predators too. So far they have not been able to get into the coop. How are they getting into yours?

  17. Betty D

    Jaden….My son in law has one of those night camera’s down by his pond just to see what comes by…Like someone posted…a guinea hens which are great alarms ….they lay small eggs and can be eaten. Locking up the hen house might be needed till they find away in. As for trapping anything…and taken miles away…here you cant do it….as it may have disease and it would be spreading it…other wise Id be for that. Racoons are bad also for just killing them…just to do it and there bad about getting rabies. A relative of my sisters had a dog that stayed in the chicken yard near the hen house…Now thats a good idea….. I sure wish you luck with the issue as I know its frustrating. my parents had issue and lost all there slowly.

  18. Jackie Adams

    Hi,We live on three acres in Sydney,Australia and have 10 Isa Brown chooks.Sydney is full of foxes even in the City and suburbs.You either have to have a concrete floor in the chook house or do as we did and dig down about a foot round the sides and put in wire mesh so they can’t dig in.We also get the odd snake which look for mice.

  19. Beachcomber

    That last picture reminded me of the “Alvin and the Chipmunk” movie scene when they draw on Dave’s work presentation a picture of Theodore’s rear end. LOL! After eating all of your chickens, ducks, compost and feed it is no wonder that Raccoon has a big a**. Sorry you lost your animals. Those Raccoons are stealthy and sneaky creatures. Hopefully you will figure out a solution to the problem.

  20. Pam

    Hi from Spain,
    we are ex pats from the UK had a Bakery here for the past 14 years and live out in the sticks halfway up a mountain with 7 rescue dogs and two rescue cats (Spanish folk are not animal lovers) as the dogs were all abandoned and probably lived wild for many months before we had them, they are free spirits and last october one came home after missing for two days, she had been shot, the rifle bullet had gone through her thigh and the through her tail, the veterinary hospital fixed her up and she is OK, sadly her daughter who was born just a few days after we got her was shot dead last week, probably by the same person. It’s sad raccoons have to do this to survive, but out killer just does it for fun.

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