He had come in the dead night, not just to steal, but to do damage as well. When Dad awoke the next morning and surveyed the destruction, he was angry. Our visitor had partially eaten our substantial sweet corn crop.
Conventional wisdom said our caller was either a skunk or a raccoon. It had to be caught.
Using a steel trap was ruled out because we had a legion of cats that roamed our property. It would have to be a humane trap, and farmers weren’t noted for being catch-and-release kind of people. Thus, to ensure the entrapment of a larger mammal, Dad would have to build the device.
He didn’t know it at the time, but Dad should have used the same manufacturer that Wile E. Coyote uses when he tries to capture the Road Runner-Acme. It would have saved time, and the results would have been the same.
Dad built a two-foot square hinged wooden box and, as a humane gesture, he drilled air holes into the top and sides. The concept was simple-lace the bottom of it with mash grain and insert two vertical sticks balanced on horizontal stick to hold the lid open. When the creature would jump into the box to eat the grain, it would bump the sticks and close the lid on itself.
The trap was set with care. Even a stiff wind would no doubt close the box, perhaps even before the skunk or raccoon arrived. However, it had to have a sensitive trigger.
When we checked the box the next morning, it was still open. But, all of the mash grain was missing. If there was an unseen benefit to the trap’s failure, it was that no sweet corn had been destroyed.
The box was reset that evening. The next morning we found the box open and the mash grain missing. The exact scenario continued for two more mornings.
The sticks were enlarged with the hope that prying paws could no longer avoid making contact with them. The engineering change seemingly worked-the next morning the box lid was closed. However, when we opened the trap, the box was empty-no creature and no mash grain.
We could only surmise that the box lid wasn’t heavy enough to contain the skunk or raccoon. However, when he started to contemplate attaching a weight to the lid, Dad had an epiphany-the cost of the mash grain that was being eaten each night was insignificant compared to the damage that no longer was being wreaked on our sweet corn crop.
The box hinges and lid were removed. Whether it was a skunk or a raccoon, the creature feasted on mash grain for the remainder of the summer.