Rookie Mistake

There are a lot of unstated goals I have when I go camping. One of those unwritten rules is to avoid interactions with skunks. I can’t imagine you would want to break this rule either. I’m not sure if shampoo, Dawn, bar soap, or anything else we keep in our camper would come close to removing the smell of a skunk’s spray. I do my best to avoid the curious creatures since I don’t want to ride back home in the back of the pickup. I should also mention that skunks are a primary carrier for rabies, just in case the smell isn’t problem enough. 

Little did I know that a rookie mistake would lead to an encounter with a decent sized smelly creature. It was sometime after 11pm on a Friday night or early Saturday morning when my wife woke me up. “I think something is in the trash.” she said. I awoke quickly, realizing that I left the trash bag hanging near the front of the Wendy. (Wendy is our travel trailer, check out her details here)

This is not the first time I’ve had rodents or small animals forage through the feast of leftover food, drink cans, and whatever other waste we managed to make that day. Securing your trash is a basic tip that I’ve done time and time again when camping. Usually tying up the bag and placing it in the back of my pickup is the simplest and most effective method. I’ve also had to tie up all my gear to avoid letting bears get a taste in the mountains of New Mexico. Most campsites in Oklahoma, including where we were at Lake Murray, have a dumpster nearby that gets the trash out of the way. I did neither of these simple solutions that night. I had a lot on my mind that evening due to some work changes that clouded my normal camp bedtime process. 

No matter the reason, now it was time to resolve my mistake. I didn’t want trash strewed about the campsite in the morning. I climbed out of bed and exited the trailer. Around the front I saw the bag of trash move slightly and knew we had an intruder. I couldn’t see the critter due to the cornhole game we had leaning in the same spot. I kicked the gameboard with no success. 

I turned the flashlight around to find a small stick. I still couldn’t tell what the creature was and the stick was too short to poke from a safe distance. I tossed the stick just behind the cornhole board and up against the bag of trash. My flashlight instinctively followed the blur as it ran away from the attack. 

Although I didn’t want to see a skunk, I was relieved to see it was moving away from me quickly with no signs of wanting to share it’s smelly perfume with me. The encounter was over and I watched as the skunk walked down the way to bother some other camper’s peaceful night. I quickly cleaned up the trash and put the bag in the back of the truck to end the excitement for the night. 

The simple moral of this story – always put away your trash at night. 


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