A few issues back I told you about some of the adventures I had with the smelly species of skunks. Here’s another skunk tale…
Up on Tonto Creek, not far from Zane Grey’s cabin in Arizona, was a dance hall. It was one of those buildings that had flaps, instead of windows, that they opened and propped up when it was warm. This was the social center for that area. The dance was on Saturday night and if there is one thing that will pull cowboys in it’s a chance to do what we called the “Okie Stomp.”
Many of the ranch hands got off by noon on Saturday, so they ran into Payson, the nearest town, and became lubricated with Colorado Koolade. One night, en route to the dance hall, they saw a skunk along the road. Being in the cups by then, they stopped and saw if the old adage was true that if you lift a skunk by the tail before he can spray, he won’t get you. Ha, take my word that dog won’t hunt. So, smelling and ornery, they took their new captive and kept him until the dance started, and then they threw it in the open sided dance hall and watched the commotion they caused. Whew, years later when that building got warm the faint odor of skunk still came out of the building’s pores. The old cowboy that owned the place kept a loaded shotgun by the front door and had a sign that read “skunk tossers will be shot.”
I was there one night when someone threw in a skunk, except it was only a stuffed one that looked like a real one. It was real enough for me – I put the gal I was dancing with out one of those side windows and joined her outside until the all clear was given.
My family used to go on weekends up in Oak Creek Canyon above Sedona, Ariz., and camp, and enjoy trout fishing and cool nights. It was a good escape from Phoenix’s heat. A nearby man was camped one night beside his new Buick four door hard top. Man, brand new. He slept on a cot. Now you had to be careful around those forest servicecampgrounds at night, cause the skunks came out. Of course no one could shoot them, so they were populous. Here is this gentlemen sleeping on a cot beside his car with the windows down. Oh, did I mention he had a little fiesty dog that slept with him? Well, sometime in the night Mr. Skunk came through and the little dog must of heard him, because he jumped off the cot and became very defensive. Needless to say the skunk sprayed the dog. Not only the poor dog, but the man on the cot and the interior of that new Buick as well all got soused down in skunk oil.
The incident drew a bunch of curious campers, who came holding flashlights and looking all around. What could he do? One man said take tomato juice and soak everything in it, that it would soak up the odor. I always wondered if that worked. I have not tried it. We never heard from the man again. He left camp to go to Flagstaff and see what the Buick dealer could do about it. Whew, I bet every time he drove it on a hot day in Phoenix he had the windows wide open.
When I was in my early teens, two buddies and myself found a den that was used by some animal for his burrow. All signs pointed to the critter being in the hole, and my buddies and I decided to smoke it out like some movie we had seen where some of the actors smoked a bear out of his den. So, we started a smoky fire and sharpened sticks for lances, like the Indians in the movie used to kill the bear. We gave him lots of smoke, until at last we heard an animal coughing and I said, “Get ready.”
When the critter started to emerge, the bravest one of all, Donny, was standing just outside the “cave entrance” with his spear ready. But the skunk, despite the smoke and all else, sprayed him good. The rest of us “Indian Hunters” fell back, unskunked. Going home on our bikes we made him ride behind us. Boy did he gripe a lot about us making him be the one who got skunked.
Western novelist Dusty Richards and his wife Pat live on Beaver Lake in northwest Arkansas. For more information about his books you can email Dusty by visiting www.ozarksfn.com and clicking on ‘Contact Us’ or call 1-866-532-1960.