Tales from Big Bend: Once again, Hubs battles the wildlife

As most of you know, Hubs and I return each year to Big Bend National Park, where we married 10 years ago.

On that occasion, Hubs spent our nights battling the javelina that invaded our campsite each night. (He wielded a spatula and tongs as weapons. The javelina were not what I would describe as impressed, let alone frightened.

Never seen a javelina? Here ya go:

Comical, no? Except, that is, when they're trying to raid your tent. While you are in it.

This year, Hubs faced a more, uh, threatening adversary:


Monday afternoon, just as we finished putting up our tent, the camp host stopped by.

“Just letting you know: This year, we’re having a problem with skunks getting into tents,” he said.

Hubs and I must have appeared skeptical.

“Seriously,” the camp host said. “You need to either tie a knot or find a way to secure the fastenings. They’ve learned how to unzip tents.”

Thankfully, Hubs and I heeded this advice.

Because later that evening, as I sat alone at our campsite, polishing off a fajita, a skunk ambled into view. And then another. And then another.

The first skunk, which was rather on the large side, headed right to the  bear-proof storage box, which Hubs — who was in the restroom when the gang arrived — had left open.

The skunk climbed inside.

I hauled myself out of the camp chair and, lunging toward our pickup, threw my plastic cup of wine at him.

The skunk didn’t even flinch.

What to do?

I raced off to the restrooms, flung open the door to the men’s potty room and hollered, “Hubs! There’s a skunk in the bear box!”


“A skunk! In the bear box! He’s ransacking it!”

The toilet flushed and then Hubs emerged from the stall, looking somewhat incredulous.

“Are you sure?” he asked.


Hubs strolled back to the campsite, where chaos reigned.

The big skunk still sat in the bear box, gnawing on the Styrofoam container our steaks were in.

The other two rummaged through the rest of the trash bag, which now rested on the ground.

“Get out of there!” Hubs shouted.

The two smaller skunks scurried off. The big guy, however, didn’t budge.

Hubs threw a rock at the side of the bear box, but the resulting clang had absolutely no effect on our striped party-crasher. He simply continued feasting on his bloody Styrofoam dinner.

A few rocks later, the skunk crawled out of the box, meat container clenched in his jaws, and turned his back toward Hubs.

Later, Hubs and I would marvel at how fluffy and pretty that tail was.

At the time, however, we ran for cover.

At which point the skunk decided there was no need to waste his scent on a couple of wimpy, stupid humans. He picked up the container, walked a couple of feet and resumed dining.

A fox approached, appeared to weigh his chances in pulling a Swiper and then wisely backed off.

Hubs threw more rocks, hoping to scare Pepe off, to no avail.

“I will win this battle, skunk!” Hubs yelled, pitching another rock …

… which nailed the skunk in the head.

The skunk toppled over and grew still.

“You killed him!” I shrieked, running toward the fallen critter. “Oh, the poor little thing!”

We stood over the skunk, pondering what to do.

“Should we tell the camp host?” I wondered aloud.

“Let’s just hide the body,” Hubs replied.

“I don’t want a rotting skunk at our campsite,” I argued.

About that time, the skunk decided to end our debate by rising from his prone position and trotting off with his Styrofoam prize.

Our jaws dropped open.

“Let’s just go to bed,” Hubs said in defeat.

We zipped ourselves inside the tent and made sure the ties were knotted securely.

Thirty minutes later …

“Do you smell that?” I mumbled to Hubs.

“I don’t smell anything,” he said.

“Just wait.”

“Oh. OH!”

“Maybe he sprayed the fox.”

“Or maybe it’s a parting shot,” Hubs said. “I mean, I did hit him in the head.”

Eventually, we drifted off despite the pungent odor wafting through our tent windows.

The next morning, our camp host strolled by.

“See any skunks last night?” he called out. “The guy up above you got sprayed while trying to chase one out of his tent.”

“Poor guy,” I muttered. “Probably our fault for pissing off the skunk in the first place.”

“Could’ve been us,” Hubs agreed. “Tonight, we’ll be ready.”

Only … we weren’t.

Tomorrow’s post: The night I showered with a skunk. And pictures! (of the skunk)




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