Fishing for a skunk in the back yard

A favorite story that I wrote in 1986

wildlifeskunk website                The skunk was in the garage when Judy Dutremble of Saco, my sister-in-law, returned home from work. She opened the door and there he was, rummaging in the garbage. Judy tipped over a garbage can, leaving some garbage in it, and stood outside.

Sure enough, the skunk walked right into the can, and Judy rushed up to clamp the lid on it. A quick capture! She left the skunk in the can for husband Tony to dispose of when he got home from work.

So far, not an untypical story. Skunk visits home. Skunk is captured. Skunk is removed from the premises. Well, it was in the removal that Tony established himself as a major league fisherman. Yes, that’s right, I said fisherman.

Carrying the garbage can, complete with skunk, to the back yard, Tony and Judy kicked it over, expecting the skunk to emerge and make a hasty exit. With a swift kick to the can, they made their own hasty retreat to a corner of the garage and peaked around to make sure the skunk was out and on its way.

He was out alright, but the can’s lid had landed right on top of him and the skunk could not get out from under that lid! The lid moved around, first to the right, then left, then back toward the house. The skunk was stuck!

Ingeniously, Tony immediately hit on a solution. Dashing into the garage, he emerged with his fishing pole with a hefty hook attached. He began “fishing” for the skunk or for the garbage lid, actually. Using his best casting technique, he threw that hook left and right, back and forth, trying to hook the lid which was by then rapidly on the move, all over the lawn, as the skunk became more and more frantic to escape his newly acquired shell.

After about ten minutes of casting, and some very near misses, Tony incredibly made one long and graceful cast and bingo, he hooked the lid! Now I would invite you to try this in your own yard today. In fact, just place a stationary can lid about fifty feet out and try to hook it with your best casting technique. After you’ve failed that for 15 minutes or so, try to imagine that lid moving about with a skunk underneath. Talk about pressure!

With a solid yank, Tony pulled the hooked lid off of that skunk and stood back, mopping the sweat from his brow. Then he and Judy nearly fainted as that skunk made a beeline for their neighbors’ deck, promptly diving under it. Yes, the neighbor was out on the deck cooking on his gas grill, oblivious to this entire episode up to this point.

The neighbor flew into high gear when Judy yelled over to him that there was a skunk under his deck. The cookout was canceled, then and there!

I nominated Tony for two special awards: Casting Champ of 1986, and membership in the Catch and Release Hall of fame!


George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.