The fruit of a long Saturday of hunting was two ducks. The weather was a little too mild and the ducks had better places to be than anywhere near me.
I hung the ducks in the garage in the usual place. The temperatures were supposed to be under 50 degrees so I was comfortable with having them hang for a few days. I have heard it said that the French would hang the game birds until their heads fell off – that meant the meat was properly cured. Of course, most of the country French had a cool larder where they took care of all sorts of food. So, while I did not have a larder, I was still curing wild duck.
Perhaps it was the wild overnight wind or maybe it was inattention to detail, but when I checked in on my game after an even less productive second day of duck hunting, the shed door was wide open and the ducks were gone. With no trail of blood or feathers, I needed Inspector Clouseau to solve this disappearance.
However, when I told this story to a friend, she immediately crafted a fine story of her own. Here it is.
Two crafty young raccoons had moved into my neighborhood – perhaps they were attracted to the grade school and nearby golf course – and they were pleased to learn their new neighbor was a duck hunter. As early Saturday evening matured into darkness, the two raccoons caught wind of a lovely fragrance – an unexpected one in this land of cat food, compost piles and backyard gardens – and they found it surprisingly easy to enter this modern-day larder and secure an instant backyard BBQ!
Invitations were immediately sent to Mr. and Mrs. Opossum, and even to the squirrels down the block by the oak tree. The opossums brought the boxed wine and they disappeared into the basement to play video games while wearing hoodies.
The squirrels immediately scattered the cat food and nut platter, leaving crumbs everywhere. The raccoons, undeterred, whipped up some cold sesame noodle salad and were very pleased when their friends the foxes brought over a rack of fresh-hopped IPAs.
The party really got going when the two young coyote couples arrived with some new soulful tunes, although they just hung out in the most comfortable chairs by the fire and talked amongst themselves.
The crafty young raccoons, with their opposable thumbs, soon had the ducks plucked and split and grilled them expertly over the hot coals. It was memorable meal for some city wildlife. The City-raised beasts raised their glasses and toasted to the skills of their country forebearers and their fine recipes, as well as to the good fortune of their city neighbors-turned-country duck hunter.
When you look at this episode of duck thievery like that, it is hard not to just smile.