Surprise

Published on Wednesday, 20 August 2014 23:46 - Written by Steve Knight Outdoors Writer

Adventure can come around any corner, and therein lies the problem.

Planned or not sometimes it can be fun. Sometimes it is going to be a wild and bumpy road where you never know the outcome until it happens.

I have seen a little of both and I have the scars to prove it, but it has been a while.

As a kid I didn’t fear a lot until it was too late. I was lucky though, my mother was a nurse. Mecurochrome or hydrogen peroxide fixed just about everything.

Of course as you get older you start paying a little more attention because chances are mom isn’t going to be there to bail you out. Of course it takes guys a bit longer to figure this out than women.

That said, even at my age I usually can’t wait for the next excitement. The latest came for my about two weeks ago and involved my son, Thomas, a barn, a boat, skunks and yellow jackets.

We had gone to a friend’s ranch late one afternoon to check out possibly converting an old pond into a duck hole. The plan was to grab a two-man boat we had stashed in the barn and run down to check the depth of the pond to see if there was any way it could be drained and planted.

Inside the barn we saw a canoe and decided to take it instead because it was lighter. Thomas marched over and pulled it back from the wall and when he did something shot out from under it, and begin running along the shadows of the barn wall.

Now, a barn cat is nothing unusual, even for someone who doesn’t own one. They just kind of show up and if they can make a living as a mouser they get to stay.

That was my first thought. But in the back of my mind something else registered. It was two colors, black and white, and while it is possible for there to be a black and white cat it just didn’t fit in this scenario.

Neither did the long hair, the long hairy tail or the stripe down its back.

Being younger Thomas had the same thought I had and was nearly to the barn door before I even moved.

Part of what kept me from running, besides age, was I thought I noticed a second skunk scurrying along the wall toward the door. For some reason standing in the middle of a big barn seemed more prudent then trying to outrun it.

Unsure of where that one went, I certainly knew about another. Hugging the wall it went down the side of the barn in the other direction, made the turn and for a minute ended up behind our boat. After a minute it started running again and this time it stopped behind a pile of stuff about midway down the wall, across from the canoe.

I was trapped. To the best of my knowledge there was one near the open door and one on each side wall. The back door was locked from the outside.

My mind went into gear and I tried to remember how many kits a female would have in early summer. It seemed one or two. With the mom still behind the canoe I hoped one or two was right so we had the entire family located.

Moms usually have kits in May or June and they tend to stay in a family unit for the first year.

Of course the next and possibly most import question was at what age are they able to emit scent. It may sound odd, but I don’t mind the smell of a skunk from a distance. In a closed building probably not so much.

I later learned skunks can spray as young as four weeks, which means if they can walk away from their mother they can spray you.

In this case we got lucky.

I told Thomas to use a paddle and push the canoe back against the wall. This is where age and wisdom comes in. Besides, years ago I talked his brother, Tristan, into walking up on a rattlesnake so it would coil and I could take pictures, so I can’t be accused of playing favoritism.

With everything back in its place, except the two walk-about skunks, we grabbed another boat and high-tailed it out the door.

It looked like our adventure was behind us until we went to open a pasture gate and found the yellow jacket nest inside one of the supports. That started the day’s second excitement, but it was nothing like playing hide-and-go-seek with skunks.

Have a comment or opinion on this story? Contact outdoor writer Steve Knight by email at outdoor@tylerpaper.com. Follow Steve Knight on Facebook at TylerPaper Outdoors and on Twitter @tyleroutdoor.