7/9/08

Skunk Hunt

I have been able to shoot, take apart and reassemble pistols since I was eight years old! My Dad professed himself a marksman and gun collector and we always had a gun laying somewhere in the house. He taught me how to use pistols in case I ever needed them for "self defense". He taught my brothers how to use rifles and shotguns and left me out of those lessons for the most part. Hunting was man's game and women were not intended to take it up. There were the few times my brothers let me shoot their guns but then they had to clean them again and it just wasn't worth it to them.

Fast forward:

In 1996 my current family moved to 100 acre farm in Tennessee. We were so thrilled to have this unruly, hilly, rocky and vermin infested piece of real estate. It was a dream come true. Let's backtrack just a bit...vermin infested. This farm was completely infested with the most vile vermin on the planet - skunks. Like those evil armadillos, skunks look cute and they seem harmless but you always know where they've been and they always manage to get one of the horses or dogs in the face before they retreat.

On this farm was a very large barn/garage which was the pride and joy of my husband. He was a truck driver at the time and he was only home on the weekends. When he was home, he would spend his days organizing, cleaning and planning the future in that huge building. When he was gone, I would pretty much ignore the thing except when I realized there were skunks coming and going as they wished. They had managed to find a hole (a vermin specialty) in the backside of the building and would go in and out. One of them appeared to be setting up a place to raise future children.

When he came home the next time, I showed him the hole expecting he would patch it and explained to him what was going on. We stayed out there past dusk and ...sure enough...out marched the little creature from her hiding place and through the hole - into the wilderness. He went into a panic stricken rage typical of his city-boy upbringing. Instead of fixing the hole as he professed he simply did not have the time, he proceeded to buy me my first 12 gauge shotgun.

This gun was small enough for me to handle and it didn't require a lot of skill. Those pellets went everywhere. After a few short lessons, firing basically into the trees, he assured me I was ready and instructed me to wait for the skunk the next night as he would be back on the road and to do my duty.

Ladies- if you like to shoot guns - stay with pistols! Shotguns tend to eventually either knock your shoulder into the middle of your backbone or break your jaw. I had already developed a tenderness from my practice rounds, but I was on a mission!

I spent three weeks off and one waiting for that skunk. It must have known that I had a new gun. My husband actually forgot about the mission and moved on to other priorities. I basically had forgotten too believing that the disappearance of the skunk was a gift from God since I was pretty sure I was going to hurt myself if I tried the gun out much more. Then, one evening as I was pulling into the driveway - there it was! It had grown and become a much larger target!

In all the excitement of my potential victory I forgot two important things - a skunk's revenge mechanism and the "kick factor" of that shotgun. I ran into the house, grabbed my gun and box of shells, skillfully loaded the gun and ran back to the garage. By this time, the skunk had rounded the corner and was only a few feet away from the entry hole. I only had a few seconds.

I carefully aimed that shotgun and drew in a deep breath (this is what marksmen do with pistols according to my dad's previous lessons). I was so excited at the prospect of telling my husband I had accomplished the task at hand, I just couldn't wait! I carefully drew back on that trigger and BAM! A shot rang out that forever changed me! That shot forever changed that garage too. I was only six or less feet from the wall and when that shotgun "kicked" knocking my shoulder into the next county, it raised up a few feet and blew a 3 x 3 speckled hole into the structure. Then, I remembered part two of important trivia to know about skunks. Fortunately for me, the skunk must have known I would never hit it so it didn't fire at me.

Good fortune was still on my side for several months. My husband forgot about the skunk. The hole was in the back of the garage and the bushes covered it pretty well after I got finished re-arranging them and tying the branches. I simply pretended that I too forgot about the situation.

One day a few months later, my husband ran into the house, tearing the door open and screamed - "call the game warden - those @*&#*&@ hunters have snuck onto the place and shot a big hole in the garage" (it was turkey season at the time). At that point, I confessed the deed managing to place all blame on husband - had he gotten me a pistol, I wouldn't have missed - had he fixed the hole, the situation would have never come about - had he just done the deed himself, nothing would have happened. I think by the time I finished, he felt appropriately guilty.

I believe it was the next day when he sold that shotgun to a neighbor. I don't recall what we did with the funds from the sale but more than likely we bought the materials to repair the entire piece of wall that originally was one tiny hole. Either way, my shoulder mended and I never want to shoot one of those things again.

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