Bill's Vignettes

This is my story. It will consist of little pictures, snippets, or vignettes, from my past. It is a legacy to my children and grandchildren and those that may come after and hopefully will also be of some interest to the casual reader who doesn't know me from Adam.

Three Ways to Catch a Skunk

Posted by sundoulos2005 on September 29, 2007

There are three ways to catch a skunk. My wife will tell you there are only two ways: the right way and the wrong way. It doesn’t matter which way you do it, my wife will not want to be anywhere in the area. If you live near a sizable metropolis you might be able to get the Humane Society or a pest control expert to do the job for you. But we lived forty miles from the nearest city — and it wasn’t much of one.

Friends of ours were visiting and staying in one of our upstairs bedrooms — the one with the chimney in the closet. Our friends had two dachshunds, which they kept with them. One night the dachshunds were having a fit and our friend Dick said he saw some kind of an animal go into the closet. A similar incident happened the following night.

After they left I determined to catch whatever it was that was roaming about. At this point we had no idea that it was a skunk because it had left no tell-tale odors. When I went upstairs to investigate I noticed a peculiar odor; it smelled like burning rubber or insulation. I looked in every room and every nook and cranny in the attic. Nothing was amiss.

As time went by, we would hear our intruder but could never catch it. I borrowed a cat trap from Dick, placed a can of tuna in it, and set it in the bedroom. That’s the first way to catch a skunk.

No more than 15 minutes passed when we heard a commotion and banging around upstairs. Our quarry had been captured. I grabbed a 30-gallon trash bag and I, along with my older son Michael, headed upstairs. In the trap was a beautiful skunk. I had never seen anything like it before (or since). It was about half the size of a full-grown striped skunk, had a tail that fanned out like a peacock’s, and a horizontally-elongated “s” marking on both sides.

“Michael,” I said, “you get in front of the skunk and distract it. I will go behind and lift the back of the crate off the ground. With its back feet elevated, it won’t be able to spray.” That is the second way to catch a skunk, and particularly effective under the right circumstances.

Michael dutifully did as I had directed him. I, on the other hand, proceeded to place myself at the business end of the animal. The skunk acted nonchalantly so I was surprised — as in “taken by surprise” — by the three stinking, rapid-fire squirts of jalapeño-hot skunk juice which found its mark in my open mouth as I raised the back end of the trap off the ground.

The skunk’s dirty work now done, I just picked the trap up and carried downstairs and outside to the front lawn.

Later, when recounting the incident to my often-away neighbor, I found out the fool-proof way of capturing a skunk. “What you should have done,” she said, “was to get a 30-gallon garbage can and put the can of tuna or cat food in it. Then place boxes around it so the skunk can climb up. He’ll drop in and won’t be able to get back out. Then all you have to do is put the lid on the can and take it outside.” That is the third way, and probably the best way, to catch a skunk.

Some lessons are harder to learn than others. This was one. Spotted skunks are much different than striped skunks, and much rarer. Spotted skunks can climb up the inside of a house while striped skunks cannot. Spotted skunks can spray when their feet are off the ground while striped skunks cannot. Their odors are different, also, although I can only pontificate on the taste of the one.

In time, the taste and the burning dissipated. The odor lingered on for several weeks . After almost ten years, with taste and odor long gone, the memories still are vivid and fresh in my mind. Now, as I think back on that encounter, I realize there is a fourth way to catch a skunk: let somebody else do it.


2 Responses to “Three Ways to Catch a Skunk”

  1. Anonymous said

    Thanks for this Bill & we will try the garbage can thing soon. Our poor dog, who never backs down, has gotten soaked twice by this culprit. We have a humane trap & always seem to get raccoons. The poor things are frantic trying to escape by the time, early morning mind you, that we free them. The skunk is more than likely after our compost pile, but every morning that its foggy & warm there will be a skunk for sure.

    We will get that stinker yet!

    Hope this trap works! Mrs. Lee Widmer

  2. Jaime said

    trying to catch a skunk now… thanks for your post… so funny, so sorry you got sprayed !

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