The Skunk and Sharp Shooter Smith

This is an epic tale of man vs. skunk. One pistol toting, the other with a bladder full of stink, it was the making of the ultimate faceoff.

We were visiting relatives recently and enjoying each other’s company when one of the dogs began to bark at the back door which is a full plate glass door. Ole’ Sharp Shooter spoke to his dog and said; “What’s the matter; is the Robin stealing your food again?” He then turned back to our conversation and explained that there was a Robin who would drive his dog nuts by swooping in and stealing his dog’s food then it would fly away before the dog could catch it. The dog continue to bark despite Ole’ Sharp’s telling him to hush several times. He was walking back and forth barking at the door and returning to stare at Ole’ Sharp with increasing concern building which was clearly visible in his eyes. Finally, Ole’ Sharp got up out of his easy chair and walked over to the glass door while saying; “Ok, you want to go get him, here you go.” However, as he reached for the door he stopped short and took a step back away from the door with a slight panic visible on his face.

I had recently read a news report which had informed of a couple young Mountain Lions that were seen wondering through town in broad daylight not a block from our relative’s home. I thought for just a moment that the Lions might be in the back yard. However, I soon discovered a far worse scenario would be the truth. Ole’ Sharp turned to me and said in a low voice almost a whisper. “There is a Skunk out there!!!” The dog barked one final time as if to say: “See, I told you it wasn’t the Robin!”

I got up and walked over by Ole’ Sharp and looked out. Sure enough there he was the most frightening wild animal on the face of Mother Earth. He was a beautiful skunk, pitch black hair with two wide white stripes running down his back to a bushy tail which held the power of his presence or should I say essence. He was standing there eating his lunch from the dog’s bowl of food. The little bugger was well aware of his prowess among men. It was mid-afternoon and he was blatantly eating his lunch. He defiantly looked up at us several times as if to say; “Yeah, I’m eating your dog’s food and what you gonna do about it?” I think I even saw a sinister little grin come upon his face. As I watched him I imagined he continued to say; “You know I’m a little skunk but I will spray the hell out of you if you even think about opening that door” He seemed to be taunting us like a little Skunk Dirty Harry; “Go ahead Punk, Make My Day!!!”

We clearly needed a plan to deal with this over confident little menace who had confidently strolled up onto the back porch only a foot or two from the door and began to help himself to a lunch which was not intended for him. Ole’ Sharp said out loud but mostly to himself; “What do we do?” For a short time I wished it were the Lion as I had first thought. In such case we could have just employed and old rancher technique to deal with protected predators. Commonly referred to as a; “shoot, shovel, and shut up.”

However, with this arrogant little problem standing not a foot away from the door that plan simply wouldn’t work because if not done exactly right the technique could go horribly wrong and become a shoot, oh damn, cover your eyes and plug your nose for the next two weeks. In addition Ole’ Sharp pointed out another obvious flaw with shooting our little menace where he stood. The bullet would hit the concrete porch and ricochet in any direction. This was not a good idea given the closeness of neighbors and the fact we were right in the middle of town. We determined a Plan B was needed.

I said; ”Ok, if we shoot him you have got to hit him in the head so as to kill him before he can spray!”

Now as a point of clairification here. You notice how I defaulted to, “if we shoot him, you have got to…” as the language of the plan? Oh yes, this is not my first rodeo on making impromptu plans such as this one. When making plans of this nature, one must always leave a route for escape if the plan fails. This way if the unthinkable were to happen, for years to come I could tell tales about the time Ole’ Sharp shot the skunk in his back yard and it ran around the house spraying everything in sight without having to admit my involvement in the planning process. But as the planning would go I continued with Ole’ Sharp listening intently.

“We have to get him away from the house but we don’t want him to run toward the neighbors or to get too spooked so that he would spray.” I said, “Here’s what we will do, you get your gun and watch him from here. I’ll go out side and around back of the house from the direction of the neighbors. I’ll make noise so that he will leave the porch in the direction we want which is away from the house and more importantly away from me. Once he is away from the porch and you have a clear shot, go ahead and take him down. But remember, you have to hit him in the head so he doesn’t spray.”

To my astonishment, Ole’ Sharp liked the plan and went to get his gun. While he was away I had time to look out the glass door at the little devil and think to myself; Oh dear, this had better go well. Ole’ Sharp retuned soon after with his gun in hand. I was surprised to hear the confidence in his voice. He could make the shot, he said. He knew this because he had recently shot a playing card in a motorcycle poker run, he had hit it dead center with his first shot. Not wanting to destroy needed confidence, I walked away without responding but I was there on that poker run and didn’t remember the card shot in exactly the same detail but I didn’t want to destroy the mojo he had going.

I walked around the house as planned and entered the back yard. I was talking out loud to myself which isn’t uncommon. But this time I was saying things like; “What in the heck are you doing out here when the skunk might be smarter than you thought and he’ll be waiting for you.” I wondered if Kathy would be opposed to sleeping with a skunk sprayed new husband? Still, I pressed forward.

I approached the back porch while banging on a can for noise and I saw our little nemesis with his tail raised and in fire position. He exited the porch and ran into a small shed just as we had planned for him to do. At this Ole’ Sharp opened the door we had been looking out of. The dog ran out of the house making a direct path for the shed. Both Ole’ Sharp and I yelled at the dog with a small degree of urgency. The dog sensed the tone of voice and stopped short of the shed. He actually came to me which has never happened before and I grabbed his collar holding tight. I think the dog knew what was about to happen and thought being with me at a distance was a great idea. I told Ole’ Sharp that I had the dog held tight and he was good to go.

Ole’ Sharp with his six shooter in hand, crept up on the shed door. From my position he looked a little like a man tiptoeing across an unmapped land mine field. At last he stopped, slowly raised the weapon, and took careful aim, “Crack” the weapon recoiled. Ole’ Sharp turned and took a couple quick steps back toward the house. The dog I was holding completely freaked out and began to spin and pull away. It was as if the dog was trying to say; “Oh my hell he has just shot that skunk in the guts, let me get the heck out of here.” For a few seconds I nearly panicked myself at the sight of the quick stepping sharp shooter retreating away from the shed at a far faster pace than he had used to approach and the dog spinning pulling and barking at me to run for our lives or at least for our sense of smell anyway. Through the confusion of the moment I watched as Ole’ Sharp stopped and turned back, he raised the weapon a second time, took careful aim and “Crack”.

Again the dog began to spin and pull obviously aware that a second shot was not a good sign given the necessity for a clean headshot the first time. But as it were Ole’ Sharp was good to his word, “He could make the shot” and the dogs panic was unwarranted. A clean headshot not once but twice just for good measure. I approached him as he confidently blew the gunpowder smoke out of the barrel and looked confidently into the shed at the not so confident menace. Mingling with the gun smoke there was the slight odor of skunk spray but nearly nothing. I concluded that the plan had worked perfectly and that the fine shooting of Ole’ Sharp had dusted the overconfident little luncheon guest before he could get off a single shot of his own. Perfect execution of the plan and complete success. Victory was found!!!

Since then it has occurred to me that there is only one problem with the plan and the degree success we found that day. I have found that now in addition to the perfect poker run card shoot we’ve heard so much about, we are also enduring tall tales of the great skunk head shot also. How far can these tales go? I can only imagine. Some might include tales of running headshots of the rabid skunk attacking children at play and at having done so while blind folded just to make it more sporting. Oh dear, the sky is the limit to the stories we’ll hear.

Oh well, great stories come from great risk. He took the shot and hit it dead center twice, bragging rights secure in the win. I guess that is why they call him Ole’ Sharp Shooter Smith.

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