If there's one thing that'll get you respect and maybe even a round of applause in these parts, it's the ability to shoot stuff. Especially living, menacing stuff like hungry coyotes, sneaky copperheads, and teenage boys who have been eyeballing your daughter.
Anyway. My husband is the shoot stuff expert in our house. I, of course, am not, seeing as how I can't even set a mousetrap, and the only way I could actually succeed at killing a wild critter would be if the animal walked up to me, took the gun from my hand, put it to his head, and pulled the trigger himself. So naturally, it was my husband who killed the skunk that was trolling our backyard yesterday, and my husband who got a standing ovation from the rest of us when he came back inside. The only applause I got was when I assured the kids that no, I would not attempt to cook the skunk into something resembling meatloaf. Even I know that ketchup can cover up only so much.
This was actually my husband's second successful scampering skunk shoot. The first was a lot more exciting and, well, smelly.
It was a few years ago, in the depth of a cold Texas winter, and the prairie animals were becoming desperate to escape the bitter winds. (Translation: it was 40 degrees. Skunks are wimps.) We heard our black lab barking her head off near the front door. Now, our lab is famous for barking at anything that moves, because she thinks it's either 1) edible, or 2) a playmate, which will later become edible. I ignored her for a few minutes, but finally got up to look through the window of the front door. I was way beyond surprised to look down and see, nestled up next to the exterior of the door, a real, live skunk. The kids were quick to gather round the floor-to-ceiling windows adjacent to the door, all marveling at being able to see the thing so up close and personal.
But then it got ugly. The skunk had, understandably, gotten tired of being harrassed by the barking dog, and went into full skunk mode. It really is quite fascinating to watch a skunk lift its entire back end off the ground, use its little front paws to do a walking handstand, and squirt its deadly scent with amazing accuracy. Well, it's fascinating for all of about 2 seconds - until the stench hits. And then, besides having a stinky dog and a skunk that had become a front porch squatter, we had another problem. The skunk decided to fully fragrantize his new home, so he made a little circle in the handstand position, spraying the porch posts, the brick wall, and the front door. At that proximity, my eyes started to water, my nose hair started to curl, and I began to have serious thoughts of actually deeding the house over to the skunk and his entire family.
Husband to the rescue. He headed around the front of the house with a trusty firearm. I scurried to move children away from the window, having visions of him spraying the house commando-style, or blowing the front door into a hundred thousand toothpick-sized splinters of wood. My oldest son, who thinks gunpowder should be an ingredient in our weekly science experiments, was so disappointed when neither happened. Instead, my husband dispatched the trespasser with amazing accuracy and very little damage to the front porch.
He got applause that time, too. I'm trying not to be jealous. Really. But would it kill my family to give me a little recognition when I manage not to burn the potatoes? Is a tiara really too much to ask for?