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Skunks

Old 04-24-19, 01:34 AM
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Skunks

How do you cope with skunks when on tour? Have you ever been sprayed?

I'm not on tour, but it is the first really warm night here, so I had every window in the house open. Had is the key word, as Pepe le Peaux paid us a visit. A couple of years ago, he scored a direct hit on the dog, who ran back into the house. The stench was so intense, I couldn't even identify it at first.*

So I am just sitting here in the ambient (but thankfully much less intense) stench, thinking about what it might be like to have one visit a campsite and unload on a tent, bike, panniers, the contents, etc.


*BTW, Dawn dish-washing detergent, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide are your best friends if you ever need to deal with this.
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Old 04-24-19, 04:48 AM
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Skunks don't spray for fun. They spray when threatened. I have several skunks wander through my campsites, including a blonde one. They acted like I wasn't even there. That was likely due to the fact they have horrible sight, being able to see only about 10'. Now you know why you see so much skunk road kill.

Stop worrying about nothing and go tour.
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Old 04-24-19, 07:14 AM
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When on tour, you have to be aware of your surroundings. I trust that as a cyclist you're already at an increased state of awareness whenever you're on your bike, but when you're touring through unfamiliar areas, camping, out after dark, etc, you have to maintain that vigilance constantly. And there are certain precautions you have to take, like hanging your bag of food some distance off the ground, at some distance from where you're sleeping. If you do that, and don't stumble around in the dark, you're not going to have any trouble with skunks.

That said, when my bike light picks up those weird white shapes that move in an erratic way, it always surprises me when it turns out to be a skunk. I mistook one for a plastic bag blowing in the wind. When I see a skunk, I freeze, give it enough time to figure out what's going on, at which point it scamper away. Enjoy the moment, they can be awfully cute. We have one in my area that's all white except for black feet and face.
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Old 04-24-19, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Skunks don't spray for fun. They spray when threatened.
Yea, they're nocturnal, I'm asleep, all is good. Far worse things to really worry about, like coyotes and jackalopes, oh..... and will I be able to stop my bike in time since I haven't got disc brakes?
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Old 04-24-19, 09:32 AM
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Ours seems to spray recreationally. (I do wonder if they spray a small amount as a preventative deterrent.)

On a tour, the closest I have come is to have a camper swerve around me and in the process they rolled over a dead, bloated skunk in the middle of the road. I was close enough to hear the thing pop, but for some reason its musk gland wasn't activated.
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Old 04-24-19, 09:37 AM
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If you see them coming (from more than 10 feet away!), scratch loudly on the ground with your foot. Try to make it sound like a dog pawing the ground. Skunks hear better than they can see, and they'll try to avoid a confrontation.

Originally Posted by robow View Post
Yea, they're nocturnal, I'm asleep, all is good. Far worse things to really worry about, like coyotes and jackalopes, oh..... and will I be able to stop my bike in time since I haven't got disc brakes?
No disk breaks [sic]?!? Nope, you're dead -- you're going to run into that skunk!
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Old 04-24-19, 01:46 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
If you see them coming (from more than 10 feet away!), scratch loudly on the ground with your foot. Try to make it sound like a dog pawing the ground. Skunks hear better than they can see, and they'll try to avoid a confrontation.



No disk breaks [sic]?!? Nope, you're dead -- you're going to run into that skunk!
Ha-ha-ha because, as the OP clearly knows, skunks never spray dogs! I think it would be better if you ran at the skunk barking!
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Old 04-24-19, 01:50 PM
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leave them an exit and they will take it,,
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Old 04-24-19, 07:26 PM
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I've only seen skunks a couple of times, I looked at them for a moment & then turned away, luckily no spray. One was quite big & with a huge mop of blonde hair it looked even bigger, I had thought they were only cat-sized.

Dunno why dogs don't have the instinct to stay away. Dogs can recognize difference between foxes & dogs even though they look similar.
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Old 04-24-19, 07:55 PM
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So, just to clarify, what I had in mind was skunks coming around the campsite, raccoon-style, and spraying stuff. I can just see spending the next week on the road, stinking of skunk, no one letting you into their shop or hotel room.
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Old 04-24-19, 09:31 PM
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It is back. It must emit continuously.
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Old 04-24-19, 09:32 PM
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I would ride to The Timbers of Fennario, knock on random doors and beg some dish soap, peroxide and Arm & Hammer.


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Old 04-25-19, 01:46 PM
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I’ve had them wander into my campsite, check the grills, look around a bit for a nosh and wander off.

I’ve been charged by a Momma with a bunch of kits even though it was her who strolled into my campsite. I got off without a spraying but there was a lot of backwards dancing by both of us (her bouncing backwards towards me, me backing out of the way as fast as possible).

Then there was the time my Labrador Retriever fetched me a perfectly health (even quite frisky) skunk from across a field despite me imploring him not to (I just wish he had retrieved ducks as well). That time did end badly!

My take away. They are the Ruler of their environment. But, if you don’t break any of their rules, they’ll generally be benign dictators and simply ignore you
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Old 04-25-19, 02:19 PM
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Skunks and porcupines. The two most defenseless animals around. Teeth for vegetables, poor claws. not fast. Skunks do not seek confrontations. Give them a chance to leave and they will. Threaten or injure them and they will react. Their spray is exactly the defense they need to survive a world of cats and dogs (and coyotes, foxes. raptures, etc.) They would rather not use it so they still have their finite amount of spray for the next crisis. But an attack from a dog? That's life or death.

There is a Native American myth around porcupines. They were originally without quills. Came to the Great Spirit saying they were being eaten by everything and could not survive. The Great Spirit endowed them with quills that worked against all animals but with a condition: they had to willingly give themselves up to humans who were going to use their quills for tools and beads.

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Old 04-25-19, 02:41 PM
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I had a nightly skunk problem, but when I used a ton of pesticide and killed all of the crickets around my house, they don't bother me anymore. Now all we got is bears.
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Old 04-25-19, 05:17 PM
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Anyone else notice how much skunk perfume smells like certain strains of marijuana? 🤔😁 Seriously, I've seen a lot of skunk roadkills this year, and smelled a lot of weed, from cars going by, and it's still pretty confusing.
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Old 04-25-19, 10:31 PM
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Originally Posted by stardognine View Post
Anyone else notice how much skunk perfume smells like certain strains of marijuana? 🤔😁 Seriously, I've seen a lot of skunk roadkills this year, and smelled a lot of weed, from cars going by, and it's still pretty confusing.
We have a neighbor with a patch here, and for awhile wondered if that was the source of the stink. But it is not.

In the UK they have a strain they refer to as "skunk-weed."
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Old 04-26-19, 07:09 AM
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Originally Posted by stardognine View Post
Anyone else notice how much skunk perfume smells like certain strains of marijuana? 🤔😁 Seriously, I've seen a lot of skunk roadkills this year, and smelled a lot of weed, from cars going by, and it's still pretty confusing.
You are not imagining things. Scroll to the bottom:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabis_strains#Skunk

"Skunk weed" refers to strong strains of pot, the smell of which some liken to that of a skunk. Haven't heard the term used in a long time.
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Old 04-26-19, 07:13 AM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
There is a Native American myth around porcupines. They were originally without quills. Came to the Great Spirit saying they were being eaten by everything and could not survive. The Great Spirit endowed them with quills that worked against all animals but with a condition: they had to willingly give themselves up to humans who were going to use their quills for tools and beads.

Ben
Cool myth. A few years ago I was touring before sun up on a long day. Was on a bike path in a forested area. In my headlight I saw some huge critter coming towards me. Thought it might be a small bear. As it got closer I realized it was a very large porcupine. The thing turned off into the brush before I could get my camera out. I had seen small ones before, but never one that large.
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Old 04-26-19, 07:41 AM
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Outdoorsmen will encourage you not to harm a porcupine because if you ever need food in the wild it is the one thing you'll be able to kill easily when the time comes. Skunks might be edible but I've never read or heard of anyone trying it. Prep would be daunting and the penalty for a misstep, as with fugu, would be grave.
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Old 04-26-19, 12:08 PM
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Skunks just randomly spraying your gear sounds like a non-issue. They have to feel threatened. I stayed at a state park last year that was pretty popular with skunks and raccoons. The raccoons were far more of an issue. This time.

The first time I stayed at that campground was longer ago than I care to calculate, when I rode my bike from my home to college for my freshman year. A few days' trip of maybe 200 miles. Got to camp, set up, and found myself with time to kill, so I walked down a path by the river. I thought it would eventually loop back to the campground, but it just stuck by the riverside. Eventually it was clear that I had gone too far and should have brought my flashlight because daylight was disappearing faster than I had expected, being in a river valley and all. I turned around and headed back at a quicker pace. It was getting harder to see, but easy to stay on the path because there was really no other option with the river on one side and a steep, wooded incline on the other. But a noise and a spot of white on path ahead of me alerted me to the skunk. I stood there for a minute trying to figure out what to do. The terrain didn't make going around easy, especially in the dark. I put my arm out straight from my side and snapped my fingers, hoping the if the skunk reacted badly, it would spray the wrong direction, or at least not hit me head on. The skunk ignored my snapping fingers, and I quickly realized that it was a matter of minutes before it would be too dark for me to see the skunk to know when it had moved on. I imagined showing up on move-in day surrounded by new people who would be my dorm-mates for the year smelling of skunk. I panicked, and ran right at the skunk, leaped over it, and hit the ground still in a sprint, not stopping until I felt certain there was a safe distance between us. Everyone still thought it was weird that I had ridden my bike across the state to get there, but at least I didn't smell like skunk.
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Old 04-26-19, 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by rhm View Post
Enjoy the moment, they can be awfully cute.
Hahaha, I remember one time in Ohio, I was cowboy camping in my sleeping bag, with no tent. Two baby skunks came along, and practically walked on me, they were so close. I didn't know then, that they have such poor vision, but I told myself something was a little "off". 🤔😉
But yeah, they are cute, when they're young. Like pretty much all babies. 😎
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Old 04-26-19, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by thumpism View Post
the penalty for a misstep, as with fugu, would be grave.
Well-played.
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Old 04-27-19, 12:02 PM
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The San Clemente State Beach hike and bike site, when they had it, had lots of skunks at night instead of raccoons, along with resident transients abusing the system. I would be sitting at the picnic table in sandals and feel a little cold nose sniffing my toes at times. The worst would be when one of the transients had a dog they let run around the site illegally. One of the "residents" did tell me he woke in the middle of the night with a surfeit of baby skunks using him in his bag as a playground, but he kept still until they left.

The coyotes that still are following me on walks stay well away from any skunks we see, unlike raccoons, which are instant targets, though they haven't caught any. Still haven't seen their pups, but they are only around eight weeks old and I don't know where the den is.
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Old 04-27-19, 01:30 PM
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Skunks are indeed lovely creatures. Very affectionate as pets when tame. My wife's grandfather had one that loved to sit on the toilet (lid closed) and watch him shave every morning.
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