I just realized something that DIDN'T happen to me during the 2009 bird hunting season - my pup, Trammell, and I were not sprayed by a skunk this season.
You see, my German shorthair pointer has had a propensity to find, point, and attack skunks during her first two years of existence. But my skunk-history actually predates Trammell's birth. Allow me to chart the sprays.
2006: Annual pheasant hunt with members of Padilla Speer Beardsley and the Waseca County Chapter of Pheasants Forever. Waseca PF chapter officer Jamie Peterson's shorthair finds a skunk. I'm down wind a mere 10 feet from the encounter. I am close enough to see the spray in the air as it hits me across the face and torso. Imagine Kramer in the "Mystery Spitter" episode from Seinfeld . . . back and to the left, back and to the left. My new wool PF Beretta sweater is unsalvageable.
2007: Opening day of the Minnesota pheasant season. Remarkably, I entered the season with zero job obligations on the pheasant opener; a day to myself with my seven month old pup on her first pheasant hunt. With similar luck, I arrive at a WPA in Pope County that is completely unoccupied at the season's opening bell. 350 yards from the truck, my luck changed. That's right, 5 minutes into her first pheasant hunt Trammell found her first skunk and proceeded to get nailed in the face. Undeterred, we pressed on to bag our two pheasants over the next hour. A stop at Cabela's in Rogers produced a bottle of Skunk Off that worked reasonably well.
2008: The Year of the Skunk. 1) September in the U.P. While on a trip home to chase ruffed grouse through the forest with my folks, Trammell tracked and chased down her second skunk in her second state in her second year. There aren't any Cabela's stores in the U.P. and I was over 70 miles from the only Gander Mountain in the U.P. So, a quick stop at the grocery store to pick up the ingredients of "Captain" Billy Hildebrand's de-skunking potion (see below) was followed by a stop at Lake Michigan. I mixed the contents of each bottle - with complete disregard to the portions instructed in the recipe - poured the potion on my pup and tossed her into Lake Michigan. This didn't work. I tried again at home after locating 80 percent of the ingredients in my mom's cupboards. This didn't work either. Long story short, my wife could smell us both arrive after the 8 hour trip back to Minnesota the next day; "Oh my God, you can't come in. You smell like you just got sprayed."
2) Our first trip to Montana. After 18 hours of driving from Saint Paul to Craig, Montana, Tram and I were anxious to stretch our legs. Famed Field&Stream journalist Bob Marshall and a few others agreed to walk behind the lodge an hour before dinner. Trammell produced almost instantly with a sharp point on a covey of Huns. I dropped one with my first shot and I instantly fell in love with Montana. A few hundred yards later, a rooster flushed at the feet of Ed Carrol of Shooting Sportsman magazine. It flushed over the Missouri and he wisely passed up a shot that would have left the bird riding the rapids downstream. Trammell raced to the area of the rooster's flush only to lock up on point. Anticipating another flush, I approached slowly as Trammell broke point and proceeded down a hole hidden in the grasses. I gave her a jolt with the ecollar, but it was too late. She'd already been sprayed and was using both paws to wipe away the sting in her eyes. True to form, I was in wide open Montana without any deskunking ingredients. Stops at the two bars in Craig (zero grocery stores) produced two cans of tomato juice. I proceeded to bathe Tram in the Missouri River with the Tomato juice. It didn't work. She smelled of skunk for my entire 3 days in Montana, the 3 days I hunted in North Dakota on the way home and the entire 18 hours of "quality time" in the truck back to Saint Paul.
2009: One porcupine BUT zero skunks.
Yes, I know I've just jinxed myself for 2010. By writing this blog, I've virtually guaranteed a year of skunks unmatched in the history of bird hunting.
"Captain" Billy Hildebrand's Dog De-Skunking Kit
o 1 quart of hydrogen peroxide
o ¼ cup baking soda
o 1 teaspoon of dishwashing soap with grease cutter
o Rubber gloves
o Small bucket
1. Put on rubber gloves
2. Mix solution in proper measurements
3. Wet dog down
4. Work in the solution
5. Leave on the dog for 3 to 4 minutes
6. Rinse and repeat if necessary