It’s been quite a while since I’ve updated you on the antics of my best friend, Hunter the Wonder Dog. I adopted Hunter from my friend, Patty Knicker at Great Lakes Lab Rescue. He is now 8 years old.
Hunter really has never been much of a problem. I will admit that he isn’t the smartest dog in the canine world. Yes, he really did flunk obedience class. He is, however, as loyal of a friend as a guy could possibly have. He’s not a hunting dog, just a great companion.
We live in a townhouse development. There are four units in each building. The association laws dictate that all animals must be kept on a leash when they are outside. I’m a law-and-order kind of guy and usually follow the rules. Yes, I said “usually.”
I will confess that every night around 10 p.m., I open my sliding glass patio door and let Hunter run outside and do a quick No. 1 on the grass. He runs out, does his business and runs right back inside. It takes less than a minute, I swear.
Recently, I got up off of my couch and moved to the sliding door and opened it like I do every night. My pal, Hunter, scooted outside. I immediately noticed a small animal running past my door about 15 feet away. Unfortunately, Hunter noticed the animal, too. He decided to give chase.
I had no idea what Hunter was chasing. I thought it might have been a feral cat. I didn’t get a good look at, it but it appeared to be larger than a squirrel. Could it have been a raccoon or a possum? I wasn’t sure at all.
I moved outside and stood on the grass yelling, “Hunter. Get back here, Hunter.” Being the good dog that he is, I soon saw him running back home in my direction. Well, he wasn’t running back because he is such a good dog, but he was running back because he was now being chased by the animal he originally was pursuing.
I quickly realized that Hunter was being chased home by a black creature with a white stripe running from head to tail. That is correct, my friends, Hunter was being pursued by a skunk.
I immediately stepped inside the townhouse. Hunter and the skunk stopped on the patio, no more than four feet from my open sliding glass door. They stood there nose to nose – snout to snout – or whatever the heck you would call it. Hunter was growling, and the skunk was hissing.
I know that skunks spray their sickening liquid out of their hind ends, and the two animals were face-to-face, so I hoped that Hunter wasn’t going to be sprayed with the skunk’s toxic juice. My hopes were unfulfilled because I soon found that Hunter already had been squirted with the nasty liquid.
I yelled for him to come inside, and he obeyed. He turned around and ran in the house. I couldn’t believe it, but the skunk was following him, trying to get in the house, as well. I was able to slam the door before the skunk could enter, but just barely.
Hunter was quite traumatized by the incident. He started running around like a dog possessed. He ran in circles, moving from room to room. My wife already was in bed, but the commotion, compounded by the smell of burnt rubber mixed with rotten onions got her quickly out of bed. “Oh my, God,” she shrieked. “Get that dog in the shower with you right away.”
“Get out to the store and buy me a few gallons of tomato juice,” I called as I started running the shower. I always had heard that tomato juice was the only thing that would rid a dog’s fur of the stench from a skunk.
A short while later, she opened the bathroom door and handed me a pitcher through the shower curtain. It wasn’t tomato juice, it was a mixture of hydrogen peroxide, dishwashing liquid and baking soda. She told me she found the mixture on the Internet and that tomato juice is nothing more than an old wives’ tale.
The mixture removed about half of the stink. Let me tell you, there is nothing more foul-smelling than skunk spray. It was a chore to get to sleep with that terrible smell in the house.
The next day was spent giving Hunter a second bath with some very expensive anti-skunk shampoo, shampooing the carpet with some very expensive anti-skunk carpet shampoo, cleaning the furniture with some very expensive anti-skunk furniture cleaner and spraying all surfaces down with some very expensive anti-skunk odor neutralizer.
I’ve never had one of my animals sprayed before, and I pray to the Almighty that it never happens again. I now find out that we are in the midst of a skunk epidemic. Last winter’s mild temperatures have caused the little demons to breed like mad, and they are all over the place. Hunter will never go out without a leash again, and before we go out, I scan the area with a flashlight and make noise to scare any of the local smelly menaces away.
I can’t believe I am saying this, but I am sincerely hoping for a winter marked with extremely low temperatures. I really want Mother Nature to do a number on the skunk population. So does Hunter.
Northern Illinois: Dave Kranz from Dave’s Bait, Tackle and Taxidermy in Crystal Lake reports: “The dams at McHenry, Algonquin and Carpentersville will have higher water as the Chain O’ Lakes perform the water draw-down for winter. Cooler temperatures have the water cooled down to where the walleye and white bass bites should improve. A large fathead minnow on a jig head should be all you need.
Crystal Lake’s Three Oaks Recreation Area marina is closed for the season but bank fishing is available.
McHenry County Conservation District’s area, The Hollows, has Lake Atwood. It is open and even provides ice fishing opportunities when there is safe ice this winter.
For info on Northern Illinois fishing, call 815-455-2040 for an updated report.”
Fox Chain O’ Lakes: Chris Taurisano of T-Bone Guide Service (www.tboneguideservice.com - 630-330-9090) sends word, “Fishing for panfish has been very good as of late. Both shallow and deep water locations have been productive. Minnows have been the best bait to use. You may even find a few walleyes mixed in with your catch. Muskie action should be picking up soon. The lakes will be experiencing turnover in the very near future, and the water should take about a week to clear up."
NEWS AND NOTES
Archery deer hunting: Through Sunday, Illinois archery deer hunters harvested a total of 19,045 deer, compared to 15,785 for the same period in 2016.
The harvest to date has consisted of 59 percent does and 41 percent males. The top five counties were Pike (548), Fulton (509), Jefferson (476), Jo Daviess (370) and Randolph (367).
The totals for some selected Northern Illinois counties are McHenry (157), Lake (90), Winnebago (174), Kane (105), DuPage (10), DeKalb (65), Boone (45) and Cook (38).
Fall wild turkey season: Hunters in Illinois harvested a statewide total of 350 wild turkeys during the 2017 Fall Shotgun Turkey Season. The 2017 total compares with the statewide fall gun turkey harvest of 385 in 2016. The 2017 season dates were October 21-29.
Fall gun wild turkey hunting was open in 56 of Illinois’ 102 counties. The top counties for 2017 fall gun harvest were Jo Daviess (46), Jefferson (23), Wayne (21), Williamson (21) and Marion (16).
Hunt at Wayne Fitzgerrell SRA: There is still time to sign up for the annual Illinois Conservation Foundation Director’s Hunt at Wayne Fitzgerrell State Recreation Area in southern Illinois. The two-day controlled pheasant and quail hunt, co-sponsored by Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever, is scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 20 and 21. The hunting will take place on 25 fields at Wayne Fitzgerrell SRA, one of the state’s best venues for upland game and other hunting opportunities. The ICF Director’s Hunt, to benefit Illinois Conservation Foundation youth hunts and youth conservation education programs, is priced at $275 for individual hunters or $1,000 for a team of four, which includes two hunts, two boxes of steel shot shells for each hunter, plus a guide and dog, if requested. Registration and sponsorship information is available on the ICF website at www.ilcf.org or by phoning the ICF at 217-785-2003.
• Steve Sarley writes about the outdoors for Shaw Media. Write to him at email@example.com. Steve does a weekly podcast about fishing called “WeFishASA.” You can find it at www.wefishasa.com.