June 23, 2006
my advice? leave it alone
This friend of mine has a serious dilemma on his hands. I don't fear many wild animals, especially not if I'm holding a loaded shotgun at the time, but Jim has found one of my exceptions to that rule in his yard.
Somewhere buried in my tangled archives is a post about MY Close Encounter of the Skunk Kind when I was camping on top of Blood Mountain with my partners Cop3 and Steve Hamby many years ago. I pitched my hammock between two good trees, put a plastic garbage back over my pack, and secured it up in one of the trees that my hammock was tied to. I hung the pack on a broken limb as high up the tree as I could reach.
I was awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of that garbage bag rattling (and not from any wind), then starting to tear. I heard that noise and figured that a hungry racoon was attempting to feed himself a midsnack on MY tab. I've seen those clever bastids to THAT kind of thievery more than once before.
I always slept with a flashlight in my sleepinbg bag with me, for just such occasions. I knew that it wasn't a bear I heard, because a bear would NOT have been that subtle. A bear would simply snatch the pack out of the tree, swipe me right out of my hammock to roll halfway down the mountain, and then rip my pack to shreds while stuffing his mouth with anything he could eat.
Naw. That wasn't a bear I heard. Probably a racoon. I just hoped that the thing was NOT rabid as I rolled over in my hammock, shined my flashlight at the intruder, and slapped my hand on the ground. "GEDDOUDAHERE!" I yelled, in my most fearsome, macho voice.
I almost screamed like a girl and pissed my pants next, as I quickly turned the flashlight off and pulled my sleeping bag quietly over my head, until I was fully cocooned. That was no racoon. That was a SKUNK!!!! A BIG, FAT, honking, wildcat-sized, whipe-striped, grinnin' bastid standing there on its hind legs looking like Pepe le Pew hisownself as it grabbed for my pack with its most terrible and frightening business end pointed right at meeeee!, less than two feet from my farookin' FACE!
I would MUCH rather have see a bear.
The damn thing gave up on my pack, but must have become curious about that trembling, gasping creature cowering in the sleeping bag, because it gave me a most thorough and terrifying examination. It hopped up on its back legs again, started pawing at the top of my sleeping bag and making loud SNUFFLING noises as it checked my scent. That skunk never new just how close it came to getting a blast of its own stink-medicine right then. I almost shit my pants.
The skunk did that paw-walk all the way down my body to the other end of the sleeping bag, dropped to all fours, walked UNDER my hammock and hopped back on its hid legs repeated the pawing, snuffling process back up the other side of me. I don't believe anything else so incredibly... uh... thrilling has EVER happened again in my life.
The skunk finally became bored with attempting to scare me to death and wandered down the slope to where Cop3 had gotten drunk on Scotch that night and left HIS pack just layin' on the ground. He turned on HIS flashlight once, too--- but made a sound kinda like a squeaky hinge on an old, wooden door and put that light out fast. The skunk cleaned him out. Ate EVERYTHING!!!
The next day, I investigated a Wilderness Shelter on top of the mountain and discovered a wire-bound notebook that campers had been making diary entries in for a little over a month. Almost EVERY ONE mentioned the skunk waddling through the front door and making itself at home while everybody in the room suffered massive heart attacks.
It was a female with a litter of at least TWO skunklets, because Mama took her young'uns inside the shelter with her on a couple of occasions. I'm glad I never saw THAT!
So, based on my vast experience with skunks, I'm gonna offer Jimbo this expert advice. DON'T FUCK WITH IT!!! If it wants to live under your shed, let it. In fact, if it wants to walk in your front door and raid your liquor cabinet--- LET IT!!!
It'll leave you alone if you leave it alone, and I think that's a damn good deal, especially for a lawyer, because I believe that you have to be related to such animals to pass a bar exam. But trapping it??? I don't think that's a good idea.
Not unless you can hire a got-dam fool to do it FOR you, while you go out of town for a few days...
A childhood friend of mine had a great skunk story. Their pet doberman caught one and brought it into the house to show off. She then shook it to death in the living room right in front of the family. Needless to say their place stunk to high heaven for a long time. April, the nice doggie, was quite proud of herself. She stunk to, but it wore off her faster than the house.
Last summer, early one morning, as my husband was getting ready for work, I glanced out the back window (as we have lots of critters who like to wander thru, (coyotes, fox, both grey and red ones, rabbits, deer, the usual fare) And this one morning I see this skunk....and I yelled to my husband, "hey get a load of this" (as it seemed harmless enough, as it was way out in the "back forty", in some grass that we let go to hay most of the year) We both admired this fellow, until we sttod there long enough to realize this was no "fellow", it was a momma skunk, and bringing up the rear were 4 kits (or whatever they call baby skunks) Still, we said "awwww" as we watched Momma Skunk and her wee ones waddling on thru.....
Well the "awwws" quickly turned to "HOLY SHIT" as we watched MRS SKUNK lead her babies one by one UNDER our shed.....(thats when my husband said "I wondered what the hell had been digging under there ")
I looked at him and told him "well, dont expect me to go anywhere near there till those babies AND their mother move on" BUT seeing as how skunks are largely nocturnal, we really never had a problem all summer, we would see her and the babies from time to time (early in the morning) and the rest of the time they must have been sleeping under the shed......
We learned (in those immortal words of Rodney King) to"get along"
I looked up some info last year (about skunks) and it said the babies stay with the mother till late summer, early fall, so your friend may have those squatters for some time yet....
I got another skunk story....
When I was about 6 years old, my father left for work (and he goes down thru the basement and out to the garage to get into his car) He backs the car out, and what does he see but a skunk sitting in the back of the garage, peering at him....
He shuts the garage door, and goes back into the house (this time, up the back steps, onto the porch, and into the kitchen) and says to my mother, "YOU have a skunk in YOUR garage, I'm late for work"
So heres my mom, with 4 children all under the age of 10, in the SUMMER, when kids like to run around and make lots of noise (something thats not conducive to keeping a skunk calm)
She calls some animal place (Humane Society? I dont recall) and they told her to keep the kids away from the garage door (it was closed, with the skunk inside) and to wait till dusk....then raise the door ever so slowly...and to sprinkle FLOUR all along the opening....that way, you could tell by looking at the flour (and noticing footprints) if the skunk had indeed left....
Come morning, we all ran down to the garage (down off the porch, not THRU the basement) and sure enough, there was a tiny set of footprints in the flour (going one way: OUT)
Good old country living....
Oh my sister (this is a killer) is outside one summer night, calling her black and white Papillion (sp?) dog....
She sees the dog sniffing around this bush in her backyard....and she's pissed that the "dog" is ignoring her....
She starts walking closer "Megan, Megan, you come over here right now"
she squints....(she has bad eyesight) and thats when she realizes, "It aint Megan, its a GOT-DAMN skunk!
She turned around and ran like her ass was on fire back to the house (where MEGAN had been watching from the doorway)
And yes Chablis, an up close and personal whiff of skunk is NOTHING like what you get a whiff of from a distance. My cat that I had as a kid got sprayed and came running up on the porch, and the smell was so awful, and so pungent, YET it didnt (not right away at least) smell like a skunk...it took several minutes to realize what the hell had happened to him (he had gotten it right in the eyes, and all we could see was red tissue, we thought he lost his eyes...it was pretty awful all the way around.....
I believe that this is even better advice than the reader who suggested pissing around the shed, which I thought was pretty good too.
Yep, leaving it alone. I can go with that.
Old friends of ours now passed on had a house in Long Beach, WA years ago where they stayed most of the Summer each year during salmon season. For many years a momma skunk lived under that old house where she raised many litters of kits. Joe and Mabel cooked and fed her the scraps from cleaning all those salmon. About the time each litter got to about two months old, the momma "perfume kitty" would haul all of 'em into the kitchen at suppertime each evening. I don't think there's an animal alive that's as cute and loveable as a two month old baby skunk. Those babies would climb right into your lap and eat Cheerios out of your hand. Momma just sat there and watched while she ate fried salmon scraps off a plate. Very well behaved critters and better mousers than a cat. When our kids were little they each had "pet" skunks at Joe and Mabel's every summer. A "pet" skunk is a very good teacher of the necessity of being gentle with animals. A pretty good analogy of an armed society being a polite society.
I remember my father's attempts to rid his shed of rats. The front doors had a gap in them, and something had been getting into the garbage bags that he stored inside. "Rats" he thought- and promptly set a rat trap beside those bags of garbage.
Walking out of the house the next morning he smelled an unexpected smell which grew stronger as he approached the shed. When he opened those shed doors it was EXTREMELY evident that rats weren't what was getting into his garbage. Man, the inside of that place stank for WEEKS. But the skunk never returned!
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