National Geographic : 1913 Jul
Photo by George Shiras, 3rd NOVEMBER FLASHLIGHT OF A PAIR OF SNOW-SHOE RABBITS IN THEIR WHITE, WINTER ROBES (SEE TEXT, PAGE 787) One evening, many years ago, while hunting deer, I was returning to camp along a railroad track where it crossed a broad, wet swamp. The road-bed had been raised above the low ground by earth taken from both sides, so that the single track was hemmed in by broad ditches filled with water. Half way across I noticed a large skunk coming toward me, and the idea of a head-on collision was not pleasant; but shooing and shouting had no effect, and on he came. At 20 feet he raised slightly to inspect me, when I tried to put a rifle ball through his head-about the only shot that will paralyze an intentional or reflex action of the scent glands. The shot missed, seemingly encouraging his desire to continue up the track; so the next ball went through the body, and some minutes elapsed before I attempted to pick a way over this odoriferous spot. By a coincidence, several seasons later and in the same locality, there occurred another adventure with an even more tragic ending. Behind a ridge of sand, out of sight of the railroad track, and where a big fallen pine made a permanent back-log for the fire, was a favorite camping site, and here one night we heard a rattling of tin cans behind the tent. One of the guides, lighting a lantern, went back to investigate. We were somewhat sur prised to hear him say, "Come here, boys, if you want to see a new variety of canned goods." Leaving the camp-fire, we saw a large tomato can mysteriously coming toward us through the grass, the result of a skunk investigating the in terior of an empty can and being un able to withdraw its head, was trying to go home blindfolded. Passing the side of the tent he began climbing up the bank at the end of the back-log, but no sooner did he feel the bark beneath his feet than he turned down the log toward the fire, which was sending its ruddy flames many feet over the top of the log. Shouting to turn him back, and this fail ing, all retreated as he approached the blaze. Then came a puff of smoke from the singed and sizzling fur, and the poor animal toppled over into the coals below.