An Old Dog Learns a New Trick

I learned a new homesteading skill yesterday, one I hope I don’t have to use often.

Earlier this year, when our sweet corn was being eaten by raccoons, I set a Hav-a-Hart live trap in the garden in the hopes of catching one. I never did, but fortunately we were able to harvest most of the corn before the coons ate it all.

I¬†left the trap set, even though I didn’t expect to catch the corn thief at this point.

Yesterday morning when I went out to pick the okra, I noticed (luckily before receiving an unwelcome surprise) that the trap was sprung. Pacing around inside it was a skunk.

Several years ago this happened to me when I was trying to catch a groundhog. Not knowing what else to do, I shot the skunk (from a safe distance). The poor critter sprayed when it was shot, so I ended up both skunking up the area and killing an innocent skunk. I didn’t want to do that again, especially in an active garden.

That’s where YouTube comes in. I searched it and sure enough there were several videos demonstrating how to remove a skunk from a live trap. Once again I’m thankful for the people who make the effort and take the time to share things like this on YouTube.

Once I’d seen it done on a couple of videos I was ready to give it a try. Should any reader of this post ever need to remove a skunk from a live trap, here’s how you do it.

Skunks aren’t the smartest animal in the woods, they’re nocturnal, they only spray when threatened and they won’t spray at something they can’t see. So first take a sheet, a blanket or something similar (I used a large beach towel) and hold it up so that it covers you (especially your feet) as you SLOWLY approach the trap from the door side.

Cherie took the pictures, but her job was to warn me if the skunk turned toward me and lifted its tail.

Cherie took the pictures, but her job was to warn me if the skunk turned toward me and lifted its tail.

Then slowly and gently drape the sheet/blanket/towel over the cage, being careful to cover it entirely. You don’t want the skunk to be able to peek out and see something to shoot at.


Then walk around to the back of the cage, lean over it, pull back the covering and slowly and gently open the door to the trap. I used a long screwdriver to prop the door open so the skunk wouldn’t spring the trap again as it was leaving the cage. This all sounds much easier than it is in real life. Being inches away from a skunk for all that time is a bit disconcerting.


Finally, once the door is open, slowly back away, lifting off the covering as you do.


Heading home, after a stressful day away.

Heading home, after a stressful day away.

So I can add to my arsenal of homesteading skills–knows how to release a skunk from a live trap without getting sprayed.

But I’d rather not have to risk it again. I removed the traps from the garden.