Sometimes Life Just Stinks

Exploring Kansas Outdoors

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I haven’t trapped for a couple years now, simply because, unless you skin and completely finish the pelts, and are willing to ship them to Canada to be consigned in the huge worldwide auction there, no good market exists here locally anymore. For the most part, buyers don’t want coyotes at all, but bobcat pelts still hold a little value. Here is a story of a bobcat trapping adventure that went all wrong.

I had several bobcat traps out a few miles west of Inman. The traps had been there long enough and it was time to move them. Besides, rain was forecast for Saturday night, and many of the traps were off the beaten path far enough that if it got wet and I had to check them on foot or by four wheeler, it would take me forever. A busy day was planned, so I got an early start in case hiccups occurred in getting the traps. I was ahead of schedule when I rolled into the last stop. “A few minutes here, then home to a hot breakfast,” I told myself. One of the traps was a cage trap slid back into a pile of branches with a goose carcass as bait, and as I rolled to a stop I could see that the cage door was closed. From my vantage point, branches blocked the view of the entire cage, but I could see what appeared to be a raccoon rustling around in the trap. I grabbed the handgun and headed for the cage, but as I got nearer, I could see that the coon’ had a couple white strips down its back. “Great,” I thought “Just what I didn’t want to see this morning.” Now I remembered an incident a couple years before where I had a skunk caught in a cage trap. That trap was much bigger than this one, so as the skunk put on an acrobatics show climbing and swinging around at the back of the cage, I was able to get close enough to somehow open the door and prop it open with a stick. The skunk eventually left without incident, end of story.

This trap was much smaller, but the morning had been going so well, I guess I figured nothing could go wrong, …. Anyway, I crept up to the trap, quietly talking to the critter as I walked. Skunks are actually pretty laid back especially if the container is covered and you go about things slowly and quietly. Besides, as long as the thing kept its butt pointed the other way, there was no way if could spray me, right? Just as I knelt down, the skunk charged the door, and I was instantly up on my toes preparing to run, but it never turned around and just backed into the rear corner of the cage again. I knelt down again, got as close as I thought I dared, and tried gingerly raising the two steel rings that held the door shut so I could quickly prop the door open and skedaddle. Then it happened… I heard a sort of squirting, squishing sound, felt something hit my face and the scrambled eggs and bacon I could almost taste awaiting me at home suddenly reeked of skunk! (Note to self: a skunk’s butt does not have to be facing you to spray you; they can spray over their back and about any old direction they choose.)

I jumped and ran like I was going to outrun the stench or something. I wiped a couple droplets from my glasses and started peeling outer clothing that might have been hit. I grabbed the handgun and ended the little beggar’s career, then called Joyce to fire up her laptop and find the “cure.” I did a piece on skunks some years ago and my research then told me that the old tomato juice cure just doesn’t work, but Joyce found a mixture that will. Mix together 1 quart hydrogen peroxide, ¼ cup baking soda and 1 – 2 teaspoons dish soap (not laundry detergent.) Wipe down your entire body and everything else that got sprayed and then rinse. A warning, clothing cleaned with this solution may discolor. The compounds that cause the extreme lingering smell are called “Thiols,” and are not water soluble, even with soap, but this combination of common ingredients somehow breaks down these Thiols into water soluble

compounds that are rinsed away by the solution. This was tested on an episode of the Myth Busters TV show and found to be the most effective smell removal agent.

When I got home, I walked up onto our back deck, by then, clad only in my underwear, where two hands strongly resembling those of my wife, reached out through the cracked-open back door and handed me a bowl of the magic skunk-be-gone potion, an old ragged towel and washcloth, and pointed me toward the shop in the backyard. I scrubbed myself and washed my hair twice with the solution and all was well.

Besides the lesson that skunks can spray in any old direction they please, I learned a few more things that day. First, it’s never too late for things to go wrong. Secondly, it’s good to know there is something that will actually remove skunk odor, and lastly, I will never again attempt to do a skunk a favor! Continue to Explore Kansas Outdoors

Steve can be contacted by email at [email protected]

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