Last night, sometime after midnight, I was roused out of sleep by our dog, Jake, bark-bark-barking at something only he could hear. Jake is an English Shepherd, also commonly known as a farmcollie, and he is very serious about "things that don't belong here".
So I tottered downstairs, to be met by Jake who quickly ran back towards the door. I opened the door a crack, and listened and heard "something" very odd. I then let Jake out and he roared out the door giving his "I'm 150lbs of badness and you don't want to mess with me" bark. In actuality he only weighs about 50lbs, but he barks bigger, and don't tell the critters out there, but he's really quite a softie, although he's given our rams what-for a couple times and they respect him.
Anyway, I stepped out behind him with my trusty LED flashlight, and from somewhere down the slope behind our house I heard:
Now, that gave me pause. I normally don't fear things in the woods, even at night, but my brain simply could not come up with any realistic possibilities for THAT sound. A rabid pig? The Tazmanian Devil? At about that time Jake went blasting down the slope barking and I followed him to the edge and aimed the flashlight down the hill. Nothing. The noise had stopped, and Jake was casting back and forth for scent. I started sweeping the light back and forth and then tried up and down. AHA! About 30ft up a tree at the bottom of the slope I caught a couple pairs of eyeballs staring back. It was too far away to see what owned the eyeballs, but they were definitely there and were moving about. They kept turning away and then back towards my light.
After a few minutes I called Jake back and we went back into the house.
The consensus seems to be raccoons, most likely, fighting over some morsel, or perhaps territory. Or perhaps raccoons normally go about their business sounding like that?
Whatever it was, they got the message and did not come back for the remainder of the night. Or maybe they did but kept their vocalizations to whispers.