Get­ting out and earn­ing my stripes

The Woolwich Observer - - SPORTS - STEVE GALEA

THIS MORN­ING I WAS look­ing at trail cam­era pho­tos I down­loaded from the week­end. And it didn’t take long for me to see a very wor­ri­some image of a fear­some beast that walked un­der my stand at last light. And, I’ll tell you, I just might change my hunt­ing lo­ca­tion be­cause of it.

Look, ex­cept for that one time I was al­most rail­roaded into watch­ing The Bridges of Madi­son County, I don’t scare too eas­ily. That’s be­cause I re­al­ize that most an­i­mals are far more afraid of us than we are of them. And who can blame them? After all, our species in­vented such un­nat­u­ral hor­rors as Say Yes to the Dress, Cake Boss and Keep­ing up with the Kar­dashi­ans.

But the an­i­mal in ques­tion is dif­fer­ent. They slip into the stand area silently and blend into the shad­ows with their mostly black coats. And while they would prob­a­bly run if they saw you first, they don’t take kindly to be­ing sur­prised when they de­tect a hunter, who is try­ing to re­main silent, in close

prox­im­ity.

So, yes, I am not a fan of skunks.

The truth of the mat­ter is when­ever a skunk and an out­doors­man are in the same vicin­ity, noth­ing good ever comes of it. Most times, when you walk away from an en­counter like that, you can’t even make it through the back­door with­out your spouse hold­ing her nose and yelling, “Dear God! You can’t come into the house smelling like that!”

And, trust me; it’s even worse if the skunk has sprayed you.

Skunks re­ally bother me. Mostly be­cause they make me quickly re­al­ize that I have wasted $10 on a cover scent that cam­ou­flages my hu­man odour and makes me smell just like acorns, when all I re­ally had to do was jump out from be­hind a tree and yell “Boo!” just as the skunk was pass­ing.

Do that once and you won’t have to buy cover scent for the en­tire sea­son. Or per­haps even next sea­son, if you live alone and work from home.

Aside from that, skunks present noth­ing but prob­lems for the av­er­age out­doors­man. For one thing, they love bait piles and have very healthy ap­petites, so they cost you money. For an­other, no one wants 400 trail cam­era pho­tos of a skunk in var­i­ous poses – or any poses, frankly.

Per­haps that worst part of hav­ing a skunk be­come a reg­u­lar at your deer stand is the fact that they are pri­mar­ily noc­tur­nal and you might find your­self trapped in a tree stand or a ground blind all night. Sure, you could try tex­ting your spouse and ask­ing her to walk into your stand in the dark to scare up the skunk that treed you, but only the strong­est re­la­tion­ships sur­vive this sort of thing.

The only other op­tion is to call the fire depart­ment and try to re­mind them that they res­cue kit­tens from trees all the time. Again, only the strong­est re­la­tion­ships sur­vive this sort of thing.

That’s why skunks are so prob­lem­atic to the bow hunter.

It is for this rea­son, I be­lieve, that ev­ery hunter ought to have a skunk emer­gency plan. Mine goes some­thing like this: skunk shows up; I leave. Un­less of course I am run­ning out of that ex­pen­sive cover scent, in which case I yell “Boo!” as I jump out from be­hind a tree.

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