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Score two for the raccoons (and maybe one for us humans)

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opinion Perham, 56573
Perham Minnesota 222 2nd Avenue SE 56573

Five minutes after my husband said, "All I know is, if they come in the tent, we are packing up and going home," we heard one scurry up and begin to unzip the tent.

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The furry bandit trampled back into the woods, as the sound of that zip caused a commotion inside the tent. I guess the noise of two panicked adults crashing around in a dark tent, trying to find flashlights, sounded too scary for the critter to investigate further.

If raccoons could earn points for being smarter than expected, then already that night they had two points.

The first point was earned earlier in the evening.

Warnings about the high possibility of our campsite being raided were everywhere.

Before our trip, we heard of friends' adventures with raccoons during their traditional week each summer at Maplewood State Park. And if tales alone weren't warning enough, the signs posted in the outhouse should have been: "Due to large population of raccoons, secure food inside vehicle."

But the problem is, while some of us see signs like this and heed them as warnings, others see them as a challenge. A dare. A double-dog dare.

So when I said, "We better put the coolers in the van," he said, "Nah, don't worry about it. I'll outsmart those critters."

As the day ended, and the kids and I enjoyed our s'mores, my husband ran around the camp 'securing' the food. Using a variety of straps and strategically placed weight, the food was considered safe and we headed off to bed.

Snug inside the tent, the kids quickly drifted off to sleep to the chorus of frogs, owls and loons - and the raccoons scurrying from the trees and bushes into our campground for their nightly meal.

In the end, the raccoons didn't actually remove the bungee cords or weight off the coolers, so I guess that's a point for my husband. However, despite those measures they were able to inch the lid up just enough to squeeze a paw in and grab the tomatoes.

As we lay in the tent, we figured out the raccoons had found some food when they started fighting. With three kids of our own, this was pretty typical behavior. When there is plenty to go around, sharing is easy - kids are calm and everyone is happy. But when the cookies are almost gone, a different mentality brings out the bear in even the mild-mannered ones.

So at the sound of the raccoons snarling and fighting, my husband admitted defeat, and asked me to help put the coolers in the vehicle.

My job, as I deemed it, was simply to hold the flashlight and squeal once in a while: "There's one! There's one!"

My husband would set down the cooler he was shoving in the van and toss a chunk of wood at the little varmint that was watching me.

It was after the food was in the van and we were back in the tent that they did their unzipping trick. And right after that, my husband said, "Next thing they are going to take the keys for the van and drive to town."

Since I'm pretty sure that didn't happen, I guess the final score was raccoons two, humans one.

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