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Need a hand?

I was out wandering in the woods this week.  Recalled an incident that happened while my daughter and I were wandering in the woods last spring.  We do a lot of wandering in the woods in the spring.

While we were hiking along a creek bottom, I noticed my daughter, Emily, had become quite interested in a particular dead tree.  I circled back to see what the fascination was.  No, it was not a snake, was not a pile of mushrooms either.  Somehow she had spotted something very curious near the top of the tree.

I will post the picture here, see if you can spot what she saw:


See it yet?

Look in the crack just left and below the main fork.



See the raccoon paw sticking out of the crack?  It never moved.  Apparently, some napping ‘coon had fallen asleep in a dead, hollow tree, with its paw sticking from that crack.

It was too far from the ground to reach and I sure was not going to crawl up the tree, but I would have loved to touch the paw just to see what would have happened?

Another time on another river bottom I spotted a hen turkey asleep on a fallen log.  Actually, I could not tell that she was asleep.  All I knew is that she apparently had not seen me, and continued to sit there as I snuck up on her.  I was beginning to wonder if she was OK, maybe she was diseased?  It just did not seem right that I could sneak all the way up to a hen turkey.  That time I did reach out and touch the turkey.  When I did, she exploded from the log and quickly flew out of sight.  I guess she was OK!

How my daughter spotted one little, right, front paw of a raccoon sticking out of a crack in a tree fifteen feet off the ground I will never know?  I think she heard something inside the tree and got to looking closer.  I never heard anything other than a ‘coon snoring.  Oh, yeah, I guess there was some dreamy mumbling about fermented plums and crayfish too, but nothing to make me look up and spot a paw sticking out of a tree.

I really have no purpose in telling the story.  It was just one of those unusual and unexpected things that happen when you spend time in the woods and on the waters.  The more time you spend, the more weird things you will have to tell stories about.  In the process you will have a lot of successful hunting and fishing trips too.  So, you better get out there!  When you do, watch for racoon paws!

About daryl bauer

Daryl is a lifelong resident of Nebraska (except for a couple of years spent going to graduate school in South Dakota). He has been employed as a fisheries biologist for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 25 years, and his current tour of duty is as the fisheries outreach program manager. Daryl loves to share his educational knowledge and is an avid multi-species angler. He holds more than 120 Nebraska Master Angler Awards for 14 different species and holds more than 30 In-Fisherman Master Angler Awards for eight different species. He loves to talk fishing and answer questions about fishing in Nebraska, be sure to check out his blog at outdoornebraska.org.

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