Robert Hitt Neill Column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Step-by-step instructions included to snag a skunk and run

This is a re-run of a long-past column, upon reader request.

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It was a lovely clear early summer Friday afternoon, just right for an outdoor oriented family to visit their cabin on one of the River islands, catch a few white perch or bream, or maybe a bass or two. They had brought steaks to grill, as well as hot dogs and marshmallows for the kids around the campfire that night. No one else was on the 10,000 acre island, so they’d have it to themselves – perhaps even a little skinny-dipping expedition to the north rim while the two kids went for a bike ride on the woods roads, pedaling quietly to catch deer or wild turkeys off guard.

But first they drove the jeep up to the cabin to unload their gear for the weekend, arriving just in time to see the only other camp resident in sight disappear under their house – a skunk! The tin skirting around the dwelling had been pulled loose at one back corner for some needed plumbing repair during turkey season, and someone had neglected to nail it back securely.

The mother refused to enter the cabin knowing that a skunk was underneath it, and directed that the father rid her abode of such a mal-olfactoried occupant, as soon as possible if not sooner. The suggestion that they go fishing first was summarily dismissed, for “How will we know if he has left or not?”

The father put his thinking cap on. Hanging on one outside wall was his “doodle-socking” pole, a long stiff cane pole with about a foot of heavy line on the smaller end, to which an oversize Lucky 13 lure was attached. Inspiration hit!

Kneeling at the open corner where the tin skirting was askew, father and son were able with a flashlight to see the skunk grubbing about unconcernedly under the cabin. The father engaged the cooperation of his twelve-year-old boy in the venture, which would soon turn into an adventure.

“I’m gonna back the Jeep up to this corner, while you take this pole and real easy maneuver the Lucky 13 to just the other side of the skunk. Then when I give the signal, you jerk the hooks into the skunk’s hide, and run hard as you can with that pole to the back of the Jeep and jump in. If you don’t ever give him any slack line, he won’t be able to spray, and we’ll just drag him out of camp aways to turn him aloose.”

Such an opportunity is seldom presented to an outdoorsy boy, so the kid was suitably enthusiastic, and began to slowly slide the Lucky 13 around behind the skunk, as his daddy backed the Jeep to the appointed spot, shifted it from reverse to first, revved the motor once, and nodded “Go!” to his son.

“Jerk!” and the little animal was snagged by the oversize hooks just behind the ears. As instructed, the boy jumped to his feet and ran for the back of the Jeep, keeping a tight line on the pole. The vehicle scratched off as the kid grabbed the bumper, and away they flew. As prophesied, the skunk wasn’t able to spray the camp, and was 100 yards down the road before he could even assess his situation.

Which he then did, and was infuriated. He knew exactly who was causing his pain and indignation, and intended to remedy the situation. When the father turned around to tell his son to pull the pole in and cut the line, he was amazed to see that the boy was frantically playing the skunk almost like he would a big bass, except trying to keep the skunk away from the bumper. 

The stout pole was BENT, and the little animal was angrily galloping behind the Jeep with the obvious intent of boarding the vehicle and exacting his revenge upon the occupants! There was 12 feet of pole and another foot of line, but the skunk wearing the Lucky 13 was less than six feet from the bumper, and gaining!

The father put the pedal to the metal, but it was still another quarter mile before the skunk tired of the chase and dropped back a little. In the excitement, the son had dropped the pocketknife with which to cut the line, so Dad yelled to just chunk the entire rig overboard, and they sped away, the mad skunk still in pursuit.

So, if you see a skunk wearing a Lucky 13… now you know!