Skunks from the past

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    It happened many more years ago than I care to think about. My brother and I were checkin’ our traps on a crisp and blustery morning with a tag along. This young man was very interested what we did for outdoor play time. With no brothers, one sister, and homebody parents, his outdoor experiences were pretty nil. So my brother took it upon himself to educate this kid on the “finer” points of huntin’, fishin’ and especially trappin’. We had a bucket full of legholds scattered across this piece of property we had set out the evening before. Fox, bobcat and coyote were the targets, but we knew all too well, other, less desirable critters thrived in the area. The first trap was “popped” with a little reddish/grey fur pinched off around it. We guessed it to be the big mature fox we had educated on a previous missed setting. The pressure pad was probably set too high (again) allowing the fox to feel the give and pull his foot before the trapped closed. We’ll set it again with more of a “hair trigger”. But there lies the problem. Setting a trap “too light” and you’re bound to catch everything. This includes what you’re not after, as the next trap proved.  We didn’t smell it at first, ‘cause they don’t always spray when caught. But there he was, with those big white stripes gleaming in the early sun. This set was pretty much in the open along a trail we hoped a ‘yote would cruise overnight. Like a pup eager to please, the kid insisted he be the one to dispatch the skunk. Knowing it would likely spread it’s fury over at least a 20 foot diameter circle when threatened, brother and I stepped well back and up wind. But in his zest for the quest, and not really thinking about the consequences of his actions, the young man approached ever so close and downwind with his trusty single shot .22LR. For a moment, and only for a moment, we contemplated advising him against his taken position. But then, brother and I decided some things learned on your own stick with you longer. The little .22 went pop and that skunk did the greatest pirouette with his hind leg secured in the trap sending a large vapor cloud downwind enveloping the kid.  Reaction was pretty instantaneous for all involved. The kid was on his knees tossin’ out whatever he had for breakfast while my brother and I, mostly in the clear of the fog, were on our knees dying of laughter. The education really did stick with him, in more ways than one.


    Camp Far West skunk

    It was after dark when my wife and I, along with the dog headed home from the lake. We hadn’t even reached the south side yet when Mutt Lee acted like he needed to drop a pile. I pulled the old truck over at the fork in the road just beyond the bridge. Mutt disappeared into the weed patch shaped like a big triangle. The full moon glowed off the lake waters and provided ample lighting for keepin’ tabs on the dog. All of a sudden a skunk appeared and headed into the same weed patch dog was in. Hoping Mutt would finish his business and return to the truck before any encounter, I began calling for him to return. I could actually see as the weeds were rustling and moving toward one another. As they met somewhere in the middle, I heard a yelp, saw the weeds violently thrashing about, and then that unmistakable odor rising. Dog’s a coming now. I began to urge the wife to close the driver’s door on the truck. Mutt Lee was just too fast. Before Donna could get the door closed, the skunked dog was in the cab and in her lap. Poor dog didn’t know what to do. He wasn’t sure what just happened. And now that he reached cover and the safety of the truck, mama was kicking and screaming at him to get out. It took a little coaxing to get him into the truck bed to head for home. Driving with the windows down just didn’t help much for the 30 minute drive home.


    We all arrived at camp the night before opening day of general deer season about the same time. We all knew the area well, but had never made this spot an opening day rendezvous. This area was normally used for quickie runs later in the season because of the limited hunt area and close proximity to home. But time constraints and family issues forced us into an o’day run closer to home this year. I didn’t mind. We’re all together and huntin’. Since nobody was worn out from a long drive, the campfire and old huntin’ stories kept everybody’s attention well into the night. Badger, my 3 year old Gordon Setter mix provided some entertainment by fetching anything and everything in the dark. Sticks, pine cones, matchbooks, beer bottle caps, it didn’t matter. Badger would find whatever was tossed out into the dark and drop it in the lap of whoever threw it. Badger finally curled up beside my sleeping bag as the fire was reduced to coals and everybody turned in. Somewhere in the middle of the night, not sure of the time, there was quite the ruckus. That’s when everybody woke to that unmistakable odor. Badger found a skunk, or maybe a skunk found Badger. It didn’t make no never mind. Dog ran that skunk through camp. For some reason, I was the target. Me, my backpack, my sleeping bag, and pretty much all of my gear got sprayed. Nobody else took a direct hit. I was pretty ripe! Nobody’s gonna’ get anymore sleep now. The fire was stoked back up but I wasn’t allowed near it. Nobody even wanted to hunt beside me. Fine, me and dog’ll do OK on our own. Turns out I was pretty much invisible to the deer. They just couldn’t wind me. Half a dozen does walked right up to me, and then I took a really nice buck that shoulda’ bolted long before I ever had a shot. Even though I was the brunt of their jokes all weekend and nobody was willing to hunt beside my skunk stink, I was the only one of us that took down a deer. It may be the only time I was actually skunked on a hunting trip without actually being skunked.

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