I am a Master Trapper

Once upon a time ago, when I was living in Northern Virginia, we had a squirrel problem. We'd been hearing them in our garage for quite some time, galloping about like wolves over our guest bedroom, but it took a while before we realized where they were coming in from: the side corners of our garage's roof.


So, like any good, nature-loving idiot, I decide we'll humanely trap said squirrels and relocate them to one of the many forested areas within a 10-mile radius of our house. We set down a Have-A-Heart trap, the kind that are the long rectangular cages with a trap door you can boobytrap open, and I put in some Nature's Valley granola bars for bait. Then we set back and wait.


The first squirrel comes the next day, and I'm jubilant. "This is easy!" I tell my husband. "All we have to do is reset the traps and they'll come to us."


"Tell that to Rocky and his 700 cousins," my husband growls. But I am determined. We will be kind to these little guys and catch and release them humanely.


The next one we catch, we notice as we're leaving for church the next morning. I am drunk on my success, and we leave him, confident that we'll take care of him when we get back in an hour.


But when we return, there is nothing in the trap.


I'm outside puzzling this occurrence when our Asshole Neighbor, Bob, comes over with a huge grin on his face. Asshole Bob lives across the street from us and we've clashed with him on several occasions over minor idiocies, like not bringing up our trash cans the same day the trash came (we got it the next morning) and the small metal sign I had in my office window that said, "Beware of...well, just beware." I thought these things were minor. Asshole Bob did not.


"I see you're probably wondering where your squirrel went," he says. "I saw him sitting in that cage, and I didn't know when you'd be back, so I took him over to my yard and let him out."


I am dumbfounded. "Why did you do that, Bob? He'll just come back ACROSS THE STREET to where his family is."


"No, it'll be ok. There's a family of squirrels in my backyard! He'll be happier with them." And he walks away.


I do not think Asshole Bob understands how squirrels work.


So a few days go by and no squirrels fall into our cleverly laid trap. I am disappointed, and my husband is furious with Bob. "His squirrel probably came back and warned the others," he fumes.


Three days pass. No squirrels. But we still hear them scampering about in the guest room ceiling. I begin to wonder if I need to try a different type of bait.


Then, on Saturday, my husband comes in the house from walking the dogs. "You need to go see what's in your trap." He says this like I've done something wrong. "DO NOT TAKE OUR DAUGHTER WHEN YOU GO."


Now that piques my interest. So I promptly grab our toddler daughter and walk out to the sidewalk, where I can get a good, distanced view of the trap cage.


Inside is a large black-and-white creature that is very obviously not a squirrel.


"Kitty!" my daughter exclaims happily.


I stare for a while, then take her back inside. I look at my husband. "There is a skunk in our trap," I say in shock. "HOW THE HELL DID WE CATCH A SKUNK?"


"I suppose he likes granola bars," my husband says drily.


So then there is the obvious question: what to do with it.


I immediately begin calling all the wildlife control experts Google can find for me. One quotes me a price to come do it, but my husband refuses, saying he'll be damned if we're going to pay someone $400 to come handle a simple skunk that we've already caught. All the rest say the same thing: "1) We don't work on weekends, and 2) we don't service your area."


"But," one says, "I can tell you what I would do. It's not that hard."


So I get an old moving blanket from the garage and approach the cage with the blanket in my hands held up like a shield. Moving very slowly--glacierly slow--I step up to the cage and gently lay the blanket over the top of the cage so the skunk is covered. There! Now if he sprays, I'm safe.


I pick up the cage by the handle, trying not to let it swing as the skunk begins to move around, and I put it very carefully in the back of our Expedition. My husband loads our daughter in the car seat and we drove to a nearby state park a few miles away.


"There's no way this is gonna work," my husband keeps chanting. "Any second now, we're gonna be in a world of awful."


But I am confident of our success.


But when we pull up to the park, a cop is sitting in the grassy area running radar. "Play it cool," I tell my family.


From the backseat, my daughter goes, "Cool."


I pull up next to the cop. "Morning, Officer! Would it be ok if I release a skunk that I caught earlier this morning?"


The cop stares at me. "A what?"


"A skunk. I caught a skunk. I need to let it go. Can I do that here?"


"Only if I can watch," he says with a growing grin.


So I park our truck facing the fence that blocks the road from the overgrown grass of the park. I oh-so-carefully slide the cage out and set it down on the ground next to the fence, so that the second the door is open, it can run to safety (and hopefully keep going!).


I pull the blanket back just enough for me to reach the door of the trap, and for a moment before I open it, I glance back over my shoulder. My husband and daughter are staring at me from the back seat with eyes like owls'. I know exactly what they are thinking because I am thinking the same thing: "Please don't let me get sprayed."


I open the door, thumb the latch to keep it open, and dash back to the truck to wait.


We watch.


Nothing.


We wait.


More nothing.


"When's the show going to start?" the cop hollers from the safety of his car. I glare at him.


Ten minutes go by and no skunk.


So, with great trepidation, I step forward again and carefully tip the end of the cage up.


Like a black, furry bullet, the skunk shoots out of the cage, goes about five feet, then turns and looks at me.


This is it, I think. This is where Pepe Le Pew gets his revenge for cooping him up in that thing.


But it just watches me for a second, like, "Thanks. It was cramped in there." Then it turns and waddles away into the brush.


I let out a deep breath I'm not aware I'm holding, then turn to see my husband and daughter grinning wide enough to split their faces in half.


"I AM A MASTER TRAPPER!" I declare, throwing my arms in the air.


I hear a slow clap and I look over to see the cop applauding, with his own big grin. I bow and get back in my trunk and drive us home.


And the best part? When my husband turns to me on the way home and says, "Know what, honey? You were right."


Best. Feeling. Ever.

Featured Posts
Recent Posts