Above all, try something. ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

Saturday, May 8, 2010

All Good Things Must Come To An End......For Skunks

It all began on an evening hike above the house one night after work. I was cruising along, looking for deer and elk anter sheds and exploring our new backyard. I felt like a kid again, wandering through the woods behind my house in Connecticut, getting excited over every little discovery. What began that night was a 3 week long string of events, that led to yesterday morning at about 8 AM.

That evening I came upon another beautiful area on my walk, and constantly found myself thinking that this would be the coolest campsite ever. Only this time, in this area, was a deer carcass. Chewing on the final morsels left behind by the ravens, coyotes, and whatever other scavengers that happened to be in the area, was a SKUNK.

I know that skunks do their deal and spray when they're scared (I really don't know anything about these critters) but I wasn't sure how far their spray reached. I decided to test my boundaries by creeping up on it. The skunk finally caught wind of me and perched his tail up, kind of hunched up to make himself look big I would guess, and took 3 hops in my direction. Here's where I screamed out loud and ran the other way. Once I gained my composure, I got the camera out and tried filming him in hopes he would do it again. Instead he ran off. Here's a little video:

So I continued on, not worried about a thing (although I was carrying bear spray Mom, don't worry) and enjoying a beautiful evening.

After flipping up a couple bones, one nice mule deer shed, another smaller deer shed, and an elk spike, I sat and enjoyed a beer and an amazing view looking down the canyon towards the town of Ennis.

I told my story of the skunk to my boss and he claimed that in the 16 years of living up here, he's only seen one skunk. So I shouldn't worry too much about the dogs moving up here.

Well, a week later, the story continues. After an evening working on the shelter for Katie's goats, we both jumped in the hot tub to soak and enjoy the starry night. We had a late dinner and just about when we finished, at about 10:30 PM, I realized that I forgot to close the barn doors where the pigs are living. I've been closing the doors because the pigs are still small and I don't want any predators to get a craving for pork.

So I got on the 4-wheeler and drove through the woods to the barn with a headlight. I opened up the tack room door to find the same skunk eating some spilled pig feed. He was about 3 feet from me and slipped through another door and into the barn area. There was no way I was going in there, so I climbed the fence and closed the barn doors from the outside.

I have noticed the skunks tracks around the house as well. The first time I noticed a quick walk-by the chicken run. Then the next time it snowed, it looked as if the skunk had made 3 laps around the chicken run. Then one evening our yard exploded in skunk odor. I never did see him that night but the smell made it into the mud room and lingered there for hours as the dogs cried inside, wanting to be out with me looking for the skunk.

Katie got 3 new baby chickens in the beginning of March. After a few months they are ready to introduce to the flock, however there usually is a few days of pecking and fighting. They usually aren't allowed in the coop right away so Katie made a make shift shelter in the run made out of plywood, and filled it with wood shavings for their first night outside, away from the heatlamp. We were a bit worried but didn't think too much of it.

Yesterday morning we had plans to drive to Bozeman to do errands so I decided to give Hattie our lab/german shepard, some quality fetch time. On her first retrieval, she sprinted to the chicken run and was going ballistic, climbing up on it and everything. She usually cares less about the chickens so I knew something was up. I ran down the hill and walked around the chicken run. I didn't see the baby chicks, but I did see a skunk tail sticking out from under the chicken coop!! Then I noticed the baby chicks under there too, although they didn't make it through their first night. The skunk stuck it's head out, and I took note of the small stripe down its forehead. The same skunk from 3 weeks ago!

I ran up to the house to get Katie and tell her the bad news. I needed her to stand guard with a stick to keep the skunk under the coop so I could go borrow a .22 from the guy I work for. A friend told me that skunks can't spray if they can't lift their tail, so I figured we were OK since it was under the coop.

I returned with the gun, and was able to get a shot by laying on my stomach and sneaking the barrel through the chain link fence of the chicken run. Luckily he gave me a shot. All I could see was the sillhouette of a skunk head under the coop. When the strong skunk odor was released I knew he was dead. I'm hoping (knock on wood) that it's the end of our skunk problem. Now we need to prepare for battle with the next predator. Whatever that may be........



  1. Exciting story is all I can say - poor baby chicks though Emma could not have handled it - she hates skunks now for that reason! Love the blog! Hopefully that will be your last incident with predators!

  2. only two baby chicks! but they were my prized buff orps....poop. lesson learned: make sure chickens are in a strong shelter at night if you have predators. leave no openings!

  3. Loved the video!!!

  4. We love reading about all of your adventures in
    Ennis. I have to admit, I'm not crazy about the 22-part! Dad could really use your help tracking down the squirrels in the backyard. Can't wait to read the next chapter. Love you and miss you both, Mom