I don’t like skunks, or snakes. Most of God’s other creatures I can comfortably share this earth with. With only occasional moments when I do give pause to consider Democrats.
One morning last week as I was leaving the house for work, I found a pile of sand stacked up on the sidewalk leading into my barn. A critter had burrowed under the barn. My thoughts of what might lurk within that dark hole would be material better suited for a Stephen King novel. To quickly and efficiently dispatch whatever it was, I called friend, frontier pioneer, trapper and outdoor writer, Steve Gilliland. Steve and wife Joyce showed up with everything short of a flak jacket. As Steve precariously dug into the hole to place a trap, Joyce stood a good distance back, with a cast-iron skillet in hand, chanting “I’ve got your back honey, really, I’ve got your back.” After dinner together and good conversation replete with the usual array of lies integral in all dinners with good friends, the trap was set, and I was securely behind my back door, peering at the hole and trap, and waiting.
I’m a little nocturnal, so about 3 AM, I’m up and curious about what might be taking place at the trap. Out the back door I go, and there it was. A skunk’s head bobbing up and down from the hole, trapped. Now it occurred to me. How do I get into the barn and to my car, as the trapped skunk was three feet from the main door? With two overhead doors, and two walk-in doors, I could just go through another door. Maybe, maybe not. I rummaged through the house and gathered up five old garage door openers and twenty or so keys, most untagged. I spent the next thirty minutes wandering around the barn trying to find a key or opener that worked, fashionably attired in my robe and slippers, around 4 AM, before I would be seen and found abhorrent by the neighbors. As luck, and lack of planning on my part would have it, none of the keys or openers worked. That’s another story fit for a different column. The only access to my car was by way of going through the only unlocked door, three feet from the skunk. After another cup of coffee, use of a legal pad, highlighter and red pen to map out my route, I decided to put a blanket in front of me to shield any spray, and then throw the blanket over the skunk. And that’s how it went. The skunk was covered, and later died. Then a quick disposal.
And now, the rest of the story. As I’m trying to open another door with the cache of keys, I look down and see another hole, next to that door. So, another trap is now set and I now have working keys and openers.
As I’ve told this story a few times, with a bit more embellishment every time, it seems that a lot of people have a good critter encounter story. Hence the idea from one of our people that we ask for “Critter Encounter” stories from our readers. If you have one that you’d like to share with us and your fellow-readers, please mail it to us at Editor / Rural Messenger, PO Box 485, Haven, KS 67543-0485, or e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org.