Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Wrist Rockets Aren't Toys
Elden's post today reminded me of my own encounters with skunks. And since I haven't had any real inspiration for blogging recently, I'm taking his inspiration. Recently, in a rare occurrence a skunk sprayed somewhere around the neighborhood. My guess is that someone hit it while it was crossing Canyon Road. My wife was sure it had sprayed our dog in our yard. I knew it hadn't- I had first hand experience as to what skunk spray smells like up close. The smell was just too weak, too distant. There are certain things you learn by growing up in the sticks. When I was young, one of my older brothers assassinated a rogue skunk that had been stealing eggs and killing chickens at night. It was a gifted shot from the roof of our house into some bushes over 25 feet away. Lit only by moonlight, my brother had hit the skunk in the head. But in its death throws the skunk managed to complete half a revolution while spraying wildly. So the bushes near our shed were a hemisphere of skunk spray. I was asleep in the room below my brother's vantage point, so I learned quickly what skunk spray smells like in your yard. I also learned I didn't want to have anything to do with that again. Several years later, I stepped out on the front porch one evening to feed my cat and see how she was doing. She was a long-haired cat, with fluffly dark fur and tabby markings. As I reached down to pet her, I wondered what she had on her coat as it was streaky. I managed to figure it out just before I touched its head that it was not so much my cat, but a skunk. Like any properly raised teenage hick, I instinctively ran for the .22. My dad stopped me, reminding me what happened the last time we shot a skunk. He had a different solution, one that still boggles me to this day. His solution: a wrist rocket. You know, the super-duper sling shots that have the extension that braces the handle to your wrist so you can pull back the super stiff bands? One of those. I figured it was exactly the wrong tool - too much force to keep the skunk from feeling threatened but not enough to be finish the job. Both of these scenarios ended in spraying. My dad insisted - he grabbed the wrist rocket and sent me to grab a marble from the marble can. Now armed with a wrist rocket, my father headed out to confront the skunk. The skunk saw my dad approaching and responded by lifted his tail and meandering away. My dad loaded the marble into the pouch, pulled back those bands further than I would have previously thought physically possible, and moved-in ridiculously close to the skunk. Instead of hearing the skunk spray (which I figured was immiment) I heard a terrific thump as the marble found its mark. I was stunned by the absence of an overwhelming odor - my dad had hit the skunk squarely in the spine, which disabled his tail immediately. I looked on in stunned disbelief, asking my dad as he came near, "Aren't you going to finish him?" "What for?" came his response. And that was that.