He was really beautiful — mostly white with a huge, fluffy tail. He wasn’t afraid of us and no one around the campfire made any sudden moves. He was used to the campers in the park and never bothered anyone.
When I was a boy, it was my job to ride my horse up the hill and get the cows every morning and afternoon. It was still dark one morning when I jumped on my horse and started out. As we cantered up the lane toward the pasture, my horse jumped over something.
Maybe I was still half-asleep or just wasn’t paying any attention, but as I looked back I could see it was a great big, black-and-white skunk. I don’t know who was more surprised — me or the skunk.
I guess the horse and I were rather lucky that morning because when we brought the cows back down, you could definitely smell the startled critter. We obviously were going fast enough to outrun the confused skunk when he sprayed.
I was running my coon hound one night over toward Laurens. The dog and a skunk had a rather unpleasant meeting. Needless to say, the dog walked home with its leash tied to the bumper rather than riding in the car with us. Luckily, we were only a couple of miles away.
My mother-in-law had a pet skunk when she was growing up in Kansas. She called him Stinky. He was never de-scented, but he never sprayed anyone, either. He was better than a watchdog and did a fine job of keeping traveling salesmen and religious peddlers from knocking on the front door.
The scent of a skunk is not very pleasant. Some say tomato juice works well to wash it away and actually, it worked quite well on the dog that night.
Today, there are many good scent eliminators available in sporting goods stores. Hunters use these to avoid detection. So if you ever get sprayed, you might try one of those.
Rick Brockway writes a weekly outdoors column for The Daily Star. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.