Man vs. Skunk: Round 2 The Backyard Showdown

Cartton by Geoff Hassing of

Cartoon by Geoff Hassing of

10 PM. The air is cool and crisp. It’s one of those September days where the daytime is summer and the evening fall.

It’s rare to knock on the front door of your own house, and at such an hour. But I do. It’s even rarer to be knocking on your front door wearing only underwear. But I am.

Yesterday morning we awoke to the smell of skunk. I’m rather adverse to the smell. Not that anyone enjoys the smell besides my aunt, but the musky rank stank of skunk turns my stomach and gives me flashbacks. You see, I had a rather memorable run-in with a skunk while jogging in high school.

I wrote a story about it. You can read it below the cut.

So, when we awoke to the smell yesterday, I was less than thrilled. We hoped that the skunk had been hit on the road and the wind was blowing just right. We couldn’t have been that lucky.

I checked the perimeter of the house, which sounds much more manly that it was because I was tiptoeing. I was also holding Harper, not as a shield but I’d be lying if I said the thought didn’t cross my mind. That’s when we discovered the hole in the landscaping. At the bottom of the hole was a nest of yellow jackets. They buzzed about riding the updrafts of skunk stank like hang gliders. A series of coarse little skunk turds sat just outside the hole.

You didn’t have to be a CSI to deduct what had happened. The skunk dug a hole to get to the bees. The bees weren’t happy and went after the skunk causing it to express it’s awful little anal glands and to crap itself at the same time.

I called up the critter control guys and ran my hypothesis by them.

“Doubt, he’ll be back,” they said of the skunk. “He probably got what he wanted and learned his lesson.”

It was with these words echoing through my head that I stepped out the backdoor in my underwear with confidence and said, “here skunky skunkerson.”

Annie had just given me a haircut and she asked me to shake out the cape of clippings because it was dark and she was afraid of the skunk.

I stepped onto our back porch and no sooner than “skunkerson” left my mouth a black and white fur ball scurried between Annie, standing at the sliding door, and me, frozen with mouth wide-open like I had seen Medusa.

I ran the opposite direction across the yard; the mostly full moon displaying the sight for all to see — the cape trailing behind me, a tail of shining hair clippings in my wake. I may have been making a noise that is best translated as “eek” but I believe it was too high-pitched for humans to here.

I bounded across the yard and to the front door and began knocking, not a normal “please, allow me to enter” knock but a “Oh my God! Oh my God! A zombie is chasing me and if you don’t open this darn door now I’ll be infected, and once infected I’ll make it the one true cause of my reanimated-self to track you as long as my half-eaten legs will carry me to find you and eat you very slowly” knock. But skunks smell worse than zombies, so I think my knock might’ve been even a little more panicked than that.

Annie didn’t answer.

The last I saw of the skunk he was running around the opposite side of the house. The front door would be about the half-way meeting point. I knocked while staring at the corner of the house, willing my eyes to penetrate into the moon shadow.

Where is she!

I cursed at myself and at Annie. We’ve lived here for three years. That’s over a thousand days that we could’ve done an emergency skunk drill: If I’m at the back door and a skunk runs by, I’ll prance across the yard in my underwear to the front door and you let me in. Got it?”

Instead of waiting for me at the front door, Annie was waiting for me at the walk-in door of the garage.

I stood in my underwear, my knocks and fears rising in crescendo. There aren’t many scenarios that would have me standing at my front door in my underwear for all the neighbors to see, but this was one.

Annie came to the door. I burst through and slammed the deadbolt shut behind me.

The skunk is still out there. There are new little skunk turds by the hole this morning. I fear this story isn’t over and that it scurries towards tragedy. Today I’m going to pour a cup or two of gasoline down the hole and fill it in.

Pray for me.

Skunks Stink
An early morning trail run gone wrong

I didn’t have a chance. Evolution was against me as I faced one of nature’s most terrifying animals.

Tens of millions of years had sharpened its glistening teeth and long claws into serrated flesh-tearers, but it’s not a frontal attack that inspires the terror. Nature perfectly placed two glands around the anus capable of packing a punch that would be far more remembered than any bite or scratch. A racer stripe of white runs down the animal’s coat of jet black fur, nature’s yield sign to any interested predators.

I was face to face with a skunk.

It was years ago on an early morning trail run before high school that I encountered skunkus stinkus. I caught a brief glimpse of black and white in the weeds alongside the trail. My heart jumped to my throat and I let out a shriek of surprise. I swear the skunk screamed too.

Nature had not only prepared the skunk for this moment, but also man. In defense, I went into a standing fetal position first perfected by an unlucky caveman about to be chomped on by a T-Rex. Cowering a fraction too long, I gave the surprised creature ample time to turn and aim its horrible little butt glands.

I kept running, thinking to myself, I wonder if that skunk sprayed me. I reached the end of the trail and still no smell. Turning into my driveway, Still no smell, but I wonder why Sammy (my dog) is not coming near me. I walked into the house, up the stairs to where my mom was getting ready for work, “Do I smell like skunk?”

She covered her face and muffled, “OH MY GOD,” fighting not to gag.

In cartoons, odors are often depicted as clouds in the shape of a finger beckoning characters to fresh apple pie. This was kind of like that, but far less pleasing. I sensed a presence coming up the stairs and I turned to face it. It was then that the odor balled up a fistful of stank and decked me across the face.

Mom quickly shooed me out of the house, and proceeded to call everyone we knew. That’s the thing about extreme skunk stink, once the nausea stops the laughing begins.

I arrived to school late with dried tomato juice in my ear. It was the only day I attended high school wearing cologne.


I understand that there is a preparation for dogs that have been sprayed, one not manufactured for skunk removal, but useful nevertheless. Dogs apparently are less fearful than humans of noxious response. And I am reluctant to relay this important information, simply because I grew up in a repressive age. The product is Massengill Douche.

Kelsey says:

Terry, good to know that my humiliation could be enhanced if I’m sprayed.

Let your voice be heard!