We have a polecat in our yard. What the heck is a polecat, you ask? I remember my father calling people polecats but at that time I had no idea what he meant. Now I do. A polecat is another name for a skunk. Well I’ll be darn. We have skunks – but this one isn’t the human kind.
I didn’t believe it when the Sergeant Major called me at the office to announced in a breathless exasperated tone that a skunk nearly attacked our two cats. “What? No way. Are you sure you didn’t see a cat?” I asked. He emphasized the aggressive little “spotted” devil was heading toward the curious albeit unsuspecting felines with one thing on its mine - and we all know what that is.
The ol’ Marine’s eyesight ain’t what it used to be so I played along and said I’d be there as fast as I can. The drive to my house takes six minutes, without a stoplight and when I got there, the Sgt’s truck was gone. “How convenient” I thought. Was I the recipient of a bad joke? Since I was already there I loaded the camera and set out on a mission to capture (digitally) this rare creature.
I was not lucky. But I learned a few things about skunks. South Carolina is home to the familiar stripped skunk as well as the smaller spotted skunk. Skunks are members of the weasel family. When threatened the skunk effectively uses his backdoor arsenal – an oily sulfur-laden compound stored in a pair of internal musk glands at the base of his tail. The furry little bugger can aim his bottoms up weapon accurately up to 10 feet and less accurately up to 20 feet. If you’ve ever run over a skunk you will not soon forget it as it will leave its odorous memory in every crack and crevice of your vehicle for months to come. If you are the victim of its wrath – well, all I can say to too bad.
A long, long time ago I lived on a farm in Minnesota. We had skunks, big skunks, and they weren’t afraid of anybody. Case in point; it was dead winter and we had left open the door to the entryway (mud room) of our house. That was an invitation to a not so sweet Pepe Le Lew. We saw him tromping through the snow, his beady black eyes trained on the warm glow of the bare light bulb. My X was a gifted man when it came to hunting, and he would use this knowledge to teach Mr. Sulfur Pit that our mudroom was off limits. Or so he thought.
The archer aimed the arrow with care, pulling the string taunt then releasing the lethal cargo toward its intended target. But we were in for a surprise. The polecat was not only a producer of putrid —-, he was an athlete. In an unbelievable feat of agility, he leaped just at the precise moment, avoiding the arrow as it buried itself in the snow. But he wasn’t finished.
He was out for revenge. He hit the ground running – straight for us. You see, we had ventured out of the mudroom in order for the X to get a better shot and for me to watch the dirty deed as it unfolded. I will always wonder if that furry monster really did know where that arrow came from because we ended up being hostages in our home for the rest of the night. Did you know a skunk can stand on his back feet and peer into the window of your mudroom door?
Now that I think about it, the polecats that made my dad so miserable really do exist. However, if I do come across our visitor I won’t use a bow and arrow…
Next time, flying squirrels.