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October 29, 2013

Nuke It From Orbit

All summer, the skunks would spray right outside my window, and I could never figure out why, because I'm not that bright.

Finally, I realized that they were probably eating the seeds that the chickadees spilled from the bird feeder, and then getting spooked by a dog, a fox, or something, and spraying right outside my window.

"This," I decided, "has got to stop."

My plan was to get out the "BIG" animal trap, catch the offending varmints, and dispatch them to meet their makers.

But the skunks are smarter than you might think. They actually dug under the trap to get at the bait, some leftover Beau Jo's Pizza. Finally, I put a rotisserie chicken carcass after eating the oysters out of the back (thanks Amelie!)

Put the chicken carcass inside a polyproplene mesh bag, tied it to the roof of the cage so that skunks couldn't dig underneath to steal the bait. Blocked access to their previous tunneling efforts with large stones, and lubricated all of the moving parts of the trap with grease from a grease gun in the garage.

So now, I was reasonably sure that I'd be able to catch a skunk. But what to do with it once you catch one? My history with skunks is nothing to be proud of. I've been sprayed twice. The first skunk sprayed me when, as a young, foolish kid, I chased a skunk with a hose. The 2nd time I was sprayed was when, as a old, foolish man, I opened the trap to release a skunk I'd inadvertently trapped. The skunk didn't even spray me when I opened the trap. He sprayed me when I decided he wasn't leaving the open trap fast enough, so I poked him with a stick.

I was well aware of the dangers of trapping a skunk. Like, if you have a live animal in a skunk trap, then you've got a much bigger problem than you had before you set the trap. My solution was to hook a 25' tow strap onto the cage and pull it out into the yard. The logic being that I could pull the skunk in the trap with the ATV, and kill him down in the woods.

So, last night, I checked and, sure enough, I had a skunk in the trap. Fair enough. I went back to sleep. Like, this is not something I wanted. It's just where we are. They won't stop spraying my house. I'm going to fix the problem. Just not sure what the cost will be at this point.

Get back in bed, go back to sleep. I really don't want to get up and deal with this skunk. Like...can't we just call it a draw?

Phone rings and wakes me from a dead sleep at 11:30 a.m. It's my ex-gf, and she wants to meet for dinner. I'm kinda like "Now is not the best time for me...really...because...I...ah....have a live skunk in a trap that I have to deal with....my success rate with skunks is not good....it's uh...nothing to be proud of, shall we say?"

"Leave that skunk alone. Do you know how many there are? They're everywhere. Let it go and I'll see you at six."

Change clothes into some clothes that I don't really like so, if I have to burn them later, it won't be a great loss.

Of course, I can't really even "let it go" at this point. I'm deeply committed. Figure the best course of action is to shoot it in the trap. Decide to use a .22 long rifle because it's a very quiet round, but also quite lethal.

Walk out into the front yard with a camera, a .22 rifle, and a cell phone. Now, the cell phone is ringing, so I answer it. I'm about to make a very big mistake, I'm sure. There's obviously something wrong with my brain, but I'm not sure what, exactly. I'd love to get an MRI and have a doctor point out, "Here...here we see the problem...the part of the brain that considers the repercussions is completely dead...it's as dead as melba toast"

I answer the cell phone. .22 in one hand. 400mm lens in the other. Skunk asleep in a cage beneath my front picture window.

"Hey...This is Monica...I just submitted you for the project we discussed. They came back and they're really beating us up over the price. How flexible are you on your rate?"

"Look. I told you already I can't work for less than the rate I quoted you If I can't get that, then I'm not getting out of bed. It's not worth it for me."

"OK. I"ll go ahead and submit you then. Thanks for your patience."

The problem most people make is that they're willing to work for less money than they're worth. I'm just the opposite. I refuse to get out of bed unless I'm outrageously overpaid. If I lose my house, I'm OK with that. You can't take it with you.

I start lining up for the kill shot. I should point out here that it's freezing cold outside. We'll come back to that. Now, in theory, if I could get a clean kill shot, the skunk won't spray. That's the theory. In practice, what happens is you miss the kill shot, the skunk gets royally pissed, and pretty much nukes the world before he passes.

Also, you have to consider the bullet-ricochet trajectory. So, I look at the other houses in the book, and try to pick an angle where a ricochet won't hit the houses of any retired people. (All the working class are down the hill - they're on their own.)

The first shot doesn't kill him, so I end up shooting him about a dozen times. Then, I grab a handful of wet grass, toss it in the air, and watch which way it blows. Now, I see where the wind is blowing. I grab the end of the tow strap, and start pulling the cage into the woods behind the house. Then, it hits me.

An atomic blast wave of skunk scent drifts my way somehow. Radiating from the dying skunk like the Trinity shockwave rolling across the Jornada del Muerto desert of New Mexico. I imagine a fleet of National Guard Chinook helicopters pouring boron onto my roof like they did at Chernobyl.

Why did I think it would be a good idea to trap a skunk right underneath my bedroom window? Obviously you'd want a "Nuke-It-From-Orbit" skunk strike to be very far away from the house, not right under your front picture window. Thank God I only caught one. What if I'd caught 2 or 3? What then?

I drag the skunk down into the woods behind the house. Abandon the whole apparatus down there, tow strap and all. Walk back up to the house. Slowly, it dawns on me that all of the doors to the house are locked except the ground-zero-front-door, and I don't have a key. And, I had 2 spares made yesterday, but they're both inside.

Also, remember, it's freezing cold outside. On a warm day, you could go to the other side of the house and throw the windows open. But today, if I throw open the back windows like I'd like to, I'd freeze to death in less than an hour. So, I crack them, and I'm shivering in the skunk-house when the phone rings, and it's my ex-gf..."How'd things turn out with the skunk?" she wants to know.

"Ah....just fine. No problem. I'll see you at six."

"You want me to come by and pick you up?"

"Naw. I'll just meet you up there. If you get there first, tell them we want a table by the creek."

"But it's freezing. It's snowing at my house."

"I been outside all day. I feel like getting some fresh air."

"You didn't get into it with that skunk did you?"

"Who? Me? No. I checked the trap and he was gone."

"OK. I'll see you at six."

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 29, 2013 at 12:18 PM


The problem most people make is that they're willing to work for less money than they're worth. I'm just the opposite. I refuse to get out of bed unless I'm outrageously overpaid. If I lose my house, I'm OK with that. You can't take it with you.

"If you're good at something, never do it for free."

Posted by: The Joker on October 31, 2013 at 10:23 PM

If you will take a blanket and place over the cage once you have caught the skunk, it will not spray and you can move the cage. If for some reason it does spray then the blanket will absorb much of the odor. I am just saying if you plan on catching another.

Posted by: mark herbert on November 1, 2013 at 8:58 AM

Thanks, Mark. Good feedback. I'll let you know how it turns out. :)

Posted by: Rob Kiser Author Profile Page on November 5, 2013 at 3:54 AM

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