Even though they can cause a stink, skunks are fascinating critters.

Over the years I’ve compiled lots of stories about skunks, including once getting sent home from school because I smelled like one.

I recalled those bygone encounters the other night as I cruised down Highway 70 and the odor of skunk suddenly wafted in the warm evening air. Every outdoorsman has smelled it.

“Nostalgic” may not be the word that comes to their minds.

But for me it is.

I was introduced to skunks in the 1st grade. I was prowling around an old field one weekend when my dog Kazan cornered a skunk in a fence row. I ran over to give him a hand.

Kazan and I got sprayed from head to paw.

I was wearing my brand-new school shoes, and school resumed Monday. When I walked into the classroom, heads turned and noses wrinkled. Miss Wigglebottom opened the windows, but it didn’t help.

She asked if I had any other shoes at home. I said I did. She said go put them on. I walked home – about a half-mile from Woody Elementary – and changed shoes.

My mom couldn’t get the skunk smell out of my new shoes. She finally threw them away. It was touch-and-go with Kazan.

A skunk dug into Grandma Harriet’s hen house one night and treated itself to a chicken dinner. Grandma set a trap, and when the skunk came back for a second helping, it got caught.

Grandma dispatched the culprit with her trusty garden hoe. She didn’t get sprayed, but her chickens smelled ripe for awhile.

As a kid I caught a baby skunk (I never learn) when it waddled across the road behind its mama and three or four siblings. I put him a cage and named him Squiffy.

Squiffy grew round and fat as a football. He ate out of my hand. He let me scratch his ears. The only time he threw his scent was when some dogs barked at him. He gave them a good squirting and they left him alone after that.

I began to feel sorry for Squiffy. He hadn’t done anything to deserve a life sentence. He just got skunk-napped. One day I turned him loose, and off he shuffled. I hope he met a nice lady skunk and lived happily ever after.

My buddy Tony Maxwell attended veterinarian school at Auburn and needed some wild animal blood for a project. While home one weekend, we set a wire trap out by the barn, and next morning we had a skunk.

Next, to get the blood sample. According to an Old Wives Tale, if you kill a skunk instantly, it can’t throw its scent. Tony shot it and ran up with his syringe – and got hosed down.

Moral: Never believe Old Wives.

Skunks are fascinating critters. Aside from occasionally pilfering a pullet or digging holes in lawns looking for snacks, they don’t do any harm. As for the odor, they shoot only in self-defense.

I admire the little stinkers.

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