Skunks are not the ideal guests to have along on a campout. In fact, they are probably the LAST things you want to see at your campsite. But they can show up if you do not take care to pick up after yourself while you’re camping. They can show up even when you DO pick up well, though. If your site has a history of campers leaving food about, skunks may start associating that area with food, and show up uninvited to your camping adventure.
This happened to us a few years ago at a local state park. We normally pick up the campsite before turning in for the evening and don’t normally encounter much wildlife. However, one evening, we were sitting around the campfire with our friends, and suddenly we saw something moving just at the edge of the firelight, on the other side of our campfire. Soon, that something came closer, and we saw not one, but two skunks. Evidently they wanted handouts, and our bed time wasn’t coming around soon enough for their liking, and they decided they wanted to scope out our offerings. So here they came.
So, while some of the less brave (or maybe smarter) individuals in our group hastily headed for our vehicles (some even locking the doors for protection against the inevitable stink) a friend and I attempted to herd the skunks away from our campsite. Herding skunks can be very tricky if you don’t know what you’re doing, and we really didn’t. You have to convince the skunks they want to be somewhere else, but not with enough force that they feel threatened enough to defend themselves. Eventually, they did leave, and everyone came out of hiding and from behind locked doors to once again sit around the campfire.
Not everyone was there to spend the night. Some had come for dinner and to have a few drinks around the fire. They eventually left my wife and I, along with our son who was only about 5 at the time, to our own devices for the evening. We put our son to bed, and sat by the fire to watch it a while longer until it was burned down and could be put out for the night. There we sat, when we discovered that wave 2 of the assault had been planned by our smelly friends. Here came the two skunks from before with a third for reinforcements. And their plan this time was to divide and conquer, because they immediately moved in between us and our camper to cut us off from safety, and from our young son sleeping (I hoped) inside. All I could imagine was him coming out of the camper suddenly and surprising this four legged raiding party, resulting in a catastrophic end to our peaceful camping trip.
Somehow we once again urged them away by making noise and convincing them they didn’t really want to hang around with us, while staying back what I hoped was a safe distance from them. We got everything stowed away that could bring them back again, and retreated to the camper for the rest of the night. Our small popup trailer would not hold off a determined attack from these marauders, but we hoped that it would protect us until morning. And thankfully it did.
What we learned is that no matter how clean you keep your campsite, once skunks have determined there is normally a food source there, they will come back. They are not afraid of people, and they are DETERMINED to obtain the snacks they crave.
So remember this when you go camping. For the sake of the people that come along after you, please keep your campsite picked up. Help prevent these horrors from happening to your fellow campers.