Wednesday, October 25, 2006



The moment of truth had come, after dark I went out doing the same sneaking around the garden beds with air rifle and flash light in tow. I shined my light into the goat shed door and there was skunk number two. My eyes widened and my mouth dropped. Number one did have a buddy, perhaps a mate and here it was leisurely dinning on a high protein cuisine. And at our expense! Kelli was wondering why the cats were eating so much lately. By the way the cats around here hunt for sport, not necessarily for sustenance. We began just giving them enough food to keep them close to home and to keep them looking good but, in time they have become rather spoiled. If I had my way they’d have to work harder for their keep but, that’s a different subject entirely. Anyway it was like some kind of instant replay of previous nights.

The skunk just glanced my way then turned and kept eating just like business as usual. And there were our darling felines cozying up to this odorous unwelcome intruder just like before. This skunk however, was a little scruffier than the first. It had been raining so perhaps it hadn’t had a chance to groom itself. No need to clean up for dinner I suppose, this was casual dinning.

Well, remembering my previous escapades I decided to lower my expectations and this time try to just relax. If I hit it I hit it, if I didn’t I didn’t, no big deal, there was always next time, provided I didn’t do myself any serious bodily harm. Relax, I kept telling myself. Just take your time, get the light held right get the gun aimed on the target. Easy shot, no problem, right? Right! By this time with all my deep breathing exercises and self help advice skunk II starts getting a little nervous. I mean that’s only natural, I get a little uneasy myself when people stare at me when I’m eating. Or then again maybe it knew there was danger in the air from skunk number ones passing. (Pun intended.) So scruffy skunk starts moving around a bit. Looking at me then looking at the food dish , turning a little to the side then turning back to the food dish. Probably didn’t know if it should take a defensive posture or just keep eating. Hmm, that food must sure be good. So now scruffy skunk is kind of a moving target. Now I’m kicking myself for not just shooting when I had an easy shot. So in haste I squeezed the trigger. And wouldn’t you know, my luck was not improving not one bit. I missed!!!

At that point I was beyond disgusted with myself. Scruffy skunk didn’t stay put for me to pump up the gun and reload. It was on the move. High tailing it (literally) back to it’s den. There I was doing my black powder rifle re-enactments, putting in about ten pumps and fumbling for that tiny 5mm pellet in the dark and trying to place it in the right direction all the while in hot pursuit. Shooting wildly several times at the moving target my accuracy still dismal at best. Instead of going to the red shed scruffy skunk went in the basement of our old gray barn. It squeezed through an unbelievably narrow gap between the door and the wall. I was amazed at how small a space it could wiggle through.

Of course the story gets better as you might expect. As I was contemplating going in after it I noticed it’s little black nose poking out through the gap sniffing the air inquisitively. If my pride was wounded from my first episode steam was coming out of my ears by this point. So, through the loading ritual I went. And another miss for my thoroughly bruised ego. At least I was being consistent, I consoled myself. I had one of two choices to make. I could go in after it or call it a night and chalk it up to another polecat victory. Polecat, two points. Human, zip. Sounds like the score at some red neck sporting event. Should have had our friend, John Heise post it on his sports website for posterity. If I went in after the skunk and with the luck I’d been having I figured there was probably a very good likelihood that in such tight quarters I’d get sprayed. Best just to leave Scruffy alone, for now.

As you can imagine I was pretty well perplexed as to why I was having such a time dispatching a couple silly little skunks. During the day times while I was out working my mind would drift back to those evenings and I would replay them in my head. If I just did this, if I just did that. Up until now I was sure God had enabled me to swiftly take out other predators but, for some reason He was making me work for these. Patience, perhaps I was learning patience and perseverance. If I always had it easy maybe I’d take it for granted or even take the credit, while patting myself on the back at what a good shot I am, when it comes down to it, when the stakes are high.

By the next night I was beginning to grow weary of this little after hours ritual I was starting to get in to. Back out into the dark. Loaded pellet gun in one hand flash light in the other. Over the fence. Around the raised beds. Shine the light in the shed. There’s scruffy glancing at me disgustingly. This time I’m getting a little bored and discouraged with my lack of success. I shined the light with my left hand while resting the gun on my left forearm. Holding steady, aimed, took a breath, still holding and squeezed, fffump, this time the skunk jumped! I hit it! But, uh oh. It didn’t drop like the other one did when I finally hit that one. It took off. I was sure I hit it. I slammed in ten or so pumps into the air rifle, got the pellet loaded and met the scruffy skunk on it’s way to the barn. Took my shot on the move and this time there was no doubt, I hit again. If there was any doubts the first time I was certain on this one. It was wounded and limping but, still managed to slip back inside the basement. There was no turning back now. I couldn’t let it go wounded.

Now, the basement of the old gray barn has been kind of a catch all over the years. So it is full of all kinds of stuff. It’s dark and damp and totally a great place for some foul beast to dwell. I whipped open the door which didn’t whip open quite as expected. Since it doesn’t get used that much, time and inactivity makes things kind of bind up. Sagging hinges and years of freezing and thawing the door dug into the dirt before it was fully open. So here I am in the dark trying to handle the loaded and ready to fire air rifle and grasping the flash light and muscling the door open ripping it through the sod I finally was ready to do battle with a wounded and cornered skunk. I took my proven stance. Light and gun working in sync and into the dark dank basement with a slight shiver running down my spine. But, to my complete surprise I spotted it. The skunk was only partially hidden under a board. It’s back side was turned towards me so it was hard to shoot at something vital. But, I shot it anyway. I hit it and it crawled further under the board to where I couldn’t see it. I figured it was just a matter of a few moments and it would expire. Just for good measure I fired several more shots under the board just to make sure. Odds were in such a tight pot the pellets were sure to find their mark. The problem was the only way to look under there would to put myself completely in the line of fire of skunk spray if it wasn’t dead yet. Except that at this point I don’t suppose it mattered much anyway since ever square inch of air was thick with skunk smell. In fact it was so thick you could taste it. It was horrible actually. Nonetheless I called Kelli on my cell phone for her to bring out a mirror so I could take a peak from a safe distance.

No sooner did I get her on the phone and I just about fell over with disbelief. That scruffy skunk was still ALIVE and came limping out from under that board and crawled into a large spool of wire laying in the corner under some other junk. This was turning into some kind of horror movie. Like when they kill the bad guy over and over and the thing just doesn’t die kind of horror movie. The skunk was wounded that was for sure and probably would have died but, I HAD to finish it. Kelli came on out to help. She held the flash light for me. It would take a half dozen more shots to bring an end to the ordeal. With the last shot the scruffy skunk raised it’s tail and I got a birds eye view of it’s working end fully expecting to get blasted but, apparently there wasn’t anything left. Didn’t really matter anyway. Everything within a 50 yard radius smelled like skunk anyhow. Including at this point both me and Kelli.

During the weeks that have past since the great skunk ordeal, as it has become to be known, I have thought and pondered as to the lesson’s there have been to learn through all of it. Like almost breaking my bloomin neck and bruising my ego and such. You never know when you will live your last day so you should never take things for granted. It has been a humbling experience really even though I fared quite a bit better than those two. I’m still here to tell the tale and they are, well, in the great by and by where skunks all smell like roses and don’t eat chickens.

But, before you get the wrong impression of me I should say I’m not the type of person who likes to kill things. If it weren’t for our poultry, bad smells and the fact that skunks are common carriers of rabies I would have let them be. And I really felt bad that I didn’t get that second skunk with the first shot, not for my ego’s sake but, the poor skunks sake. Things like that do bother me. I’m a sensitive guy really. Nonetheless I am glad they are gone and it is all behind us.

As you can see these pictures below are proof that I wasn’t just making all this up. It all happened just about exactly like I said believe it or not.

That's me holding up the two culprits. It's hard to tell in the picture but that's a clothes pin on my nose.

Until Next Time


Anonymous Anonymous said...

As Paul Harvey would say "And that's the rest of the story"!!! Thanks for sharing your tales or is that 'tails'?

As I said before, you tell a tall tale!!!

Since your first story, I've had a skunk or two visiting our shed where we feed the cats and dogs. I moved the cat & dog food into my pickup box covered with a topper and removed any remaining cat and dog food at night.

After smelling the offending (pun intended) critters for the next two nights, I haven't smelled them since. If that wouldn't have worked, I might have had to try my own 'live trap' cream can advice. I'll keep the tempting pet food locked up at night until winter which may not be too far away.

Actually, after 2 weeks of gray, chilly weather with occasional snow flurries, the last 2 days have been sunny and in the low 50s. It's supposed to be nice again for at least the next several days. Horray!!! Indian Summer1--getting up and dancing a jig!

May your Light shine!

7:36 PM  
Blogger Lynn said...

I dread the day that we get skunked! We did have an incident a week or so ago, when after our son Jonathan let out the chickens he noticed that one was gone. They then discovered a skunk in our woodpile, so Jonathan ran in and got his gun (I'm gun illiterate, so I don't know what type he got the varmint with) and shot it as it was moseying down our driveway. Even when it let loose in the open air -- our house and everything smelled! Thankfully it didn't last too long. And all of this happened in broad daylight!

9:53 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

Holy exploding scent glands, Batman! The reason it took so long for you to be successful was that you forgot to wear your cape! :)
How about we start an agrarian olympics? Pole cat shooting, chicken chasing, etc., and we'll top it off with a guinea roast (I'll supply the birds)! Now how about skinning those varmints and making hats for the kids?

10:21 PM  
Blogger Patti said...

Why do you prefer an air rifle over.. say a .22 rifle?

11:04 AM  
Blogger Missouri Rev said...

I concur with Patti. A .22 long rifle has a far greater lethal factor. When I was a boy my brother and I treed a porcupine. After 30 hits with our pellet gun it finally fell to the ground and began to crawl away, wherein we dispatched it with a club made from a tree branch. That bloody episode concluded our days of trying to kill an animal with an underpowered weapon. BTW, how long did it take to get rid of the skunk smell?

9:20 AM  
Blogger RL said...

Well, once again apologies are in order for not being very prompt at my replies. Sorry folks! We got a new garbage truck so in all the time it has taken to work out deals, drive 200 miles there and back to pick it up and then actually put it to use there hasn't been much time for blogging. Were still working out the bugs with the truck but, over all it's working for us.

I imagine skunks can live just about anywhere. They are probably pretty unappreciated as to having great versatility and survivability. We had skunks back in Illinois and recently my brother in law down there was telling me how their neighborhood is kind of over run with them. In fact just a couple weeks ago one evening we where driving through down town eagle river and a skunk was walking down a sidewalk.

I'm not looking forward to dealing with anymore skunks but, I would like to try out the "live trap cream can" thing.

Glad to hear that you had Indian Summer. So far here by us it has been too cool to say we've had any kind of Indian Summer. I've been anxiously waiting but, so far no luck!

I'm glad that Johnathan was able to make quick work of it. There really is nothing like that smell, eh? It seems to permeate everywhere.

Ha, ha! Sounds like you are on to something! "Agrarian Olympics" I'll bet that would really catch on! People get together for all kinds of funny stuff, so why not.

Our friend Ken and his family where just here and he wondering if I had skinned them. I'm sorry to say they I did not. I was so sick of the smell I didn't have it in me to get that intimate with them. They would have made some nice hats though.

Well, I sure would have used a .22 over a pellet gun but, I don't personally own one. I probably could have borrowed my dad's but, I if I have a choice I don't like to borrow if I don't have to.
Living on a shoe string like we have these past years I never could warrant spending the money. But, I am glad to say that I have since bought a used 20 gauge shot gun for any future run-ins with varmints.

Howdy Missouri Rev,
Yes I have learned my lesson as well about an under powered weapon. A performance I don't want to repeat anytime soon. Things aren't as tight financially for us as they once were so I went ahead and splurged on the shot gun.

It has taken weeks for the smell to dissipate. Even now the areas where the skunks died still have a faint odor.

God Bless.


9:05 AM  

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