By Dennis Smith
Few things in this world are as physically overpowering as a full on, in-your-face dose of good old-fashioned, gag-you-to-tears skunk musk. The stuff has been likened to tear gas because it can cause temporary blindness, coughing and vomiting and, in high concentrations, can actually be fatal to humans. Who knew Pepé Le Pew could kill you?
So, where was I? Oh yeah, bolting in panic from a cage-trapped skunk that just discharged enough vile-smelling spray to gag a committee of buzzards, never mind stink up the whole neighborhood. All because I wanted to remove an ill-mannered raccoon that was making a real nuisance of himself for a couple of weeks.
Thankfully, the home-brewed plastic tarp I held in front of me prevented the noxious spray from reaching me, though I didn’t realize it at the time. I tossed it at the cage in sheer panic and dove through the rear door into the garage coughing and gagging, certain that I took a direct hit of the toxic juice. Amazingly, though, I didn’t get so much as a drop on me. Whew, no pew. Perhaps even more amazingly, the tarp drifted over the entire cage, covering it and the skunk completely. What luck.
All we had to do now was release the skunk. The plan called for me to sneak up on the covered cage, quietly open the locked door and let him walk out. We decided to wait a while for the “air to clear” before venturing back out into the yard, but it became evident after a couple of hours that wasn’t going to happen anytime soon. So, holding my breath, I crept up to the cage, lifted the front of the tarp, carefully opened the cage door and shot back into the garage, fully expecting Mr. Skunk to dash from his stinky prison, free at last. But, no. Instead, he retreated to the rear of the cage and hid in the darkness.
Now what? I tried to lure him out by hiding behind the cage and dangling a slice of raw bacon from one of my fishing rods at the front door, but he couldn’t care less. Then we threw marshmallows in front of the cage to tempt his sweet tooth. When it occurred to us that sitting in that stinky cage might have ruined his appetite, I tried inching the tarp farther and farther back, depriving him of his security and thinking the smell of fresh air would appeal to him. No luck. We tried waiting him out, thinking if we left him alone he’d surely leave. He didn’t.
It was now after 6 in the evening, the skunk had been in the cage since the night before and, despite our best efforts all day long, he wouldn’t leave. The cage was almost completely uncovered and the door was open. Bacon, marshmallows, pieces of bologna, and freedom were at his disposal and still he refused to leave. We were desperate.
Suddenly my wife’s eyes lit up. “I’ve got it!” she said, reaching for the cord to the old air compressor sitting near the back door. This thing makes the most god-awful noise you ever heard and is guaranteed to make your ears bleed if you stand too close to it. When she pushed it on to the patio and fired it up, the skunk shot out of the cage like a scalded cat, never to be seen again. The ’coon was back the next night.
It’s funny now, but it wasn’t then.