"Skunkzilla" Bear season 2008

I was wedged solidly in the pitch dark and I began to sweat. My gut instinct was to wriggle out of this trap as my breath began to quicken. I would be busted with wriggling or even audible breathing. I heard others breathing but they could not sense I was there. They passed slowly and I began an extraction that would later produce some dandy bruises - but which would also win me the game.

"Squirm" was always my favorite. It was a night game, one of many night games my three sibs and I invented, especially for long Minnesota winters when we were cooped up and driving Mom crazy. That was before video games, marathon TV and internet. Squirm was turning out the lights in our linoleum tiled basement, with one person "it" at one end of the 30 foot room, and the other three at the opposite end in pitch darkness. The object was for the three to make it past the one to the other end and "safe" without getting tagged. The first to get tagged was "it" for the next round. If we all made it safe, the "it" person had a do-over. Man! Was that fun crawling silently over and under furniture, the upright piano, etc. and trying not to get busted with the sound of our own breathing. I had managed to get myself wedged behind our upright player piano, behind which I had artfully belly-crawled to avoid being tagged.

Summer visitor Me on my stand with bait in background, watching crows circle the bait

Visions of Squirm danced through my mind as I faced off with Skunkzilla in the pitch darkness of a Minnesota September woods. I had descended from my tree stand in nearly pitch dark on the first day of bear season hoping to sneak out undetected by nocturnals. I did not want to booger up my bear bait so I was not using a flashlight. As I crept past the bait, I heard a hissy growl. Stopping short, I switched on my red LED PalLite toward the source of the snarl. There was a large skunk, appearing the size of a beach ball with its hair all on end, teeth bared, tail up, ready to defend its supper (my bait crib).. I have never seen the Alien movies, but this growling, fiery-eyed critter sure looked like the previews I had seen.

Me baiting end of August Bow and bait set up