The shithouse porcupine

This is one of my favourite wildlife stories: someone trying to get a porcupine out of an outhouse with a 2×4. It’s simple but good. I was reminded of it by my mother yesterday: she’s been digitizing old photos and publishing the memories, like our hiking trip to Grizzly Den. That’s where The Porcupine Event happened, though she didn’t actually tell that story because she didn’t see it. But I did, and hoo boy did it make an impression…

The porcupine kept us up most of the night, which we all remember:

First, there was a porcupine in the out house which gnawed at the walls inside for almost the entire night. We would just begin to drop off to sleep and the gnawing would begin. After a few minutes, it would stop and we were convinced that it would get quiet — but it continued all night.

The outhouse was quite a big one, double or triple wide, with firewood stored inside. The porcupine was somewhere in the back in the wood pile, and it wasn’t comfortable (or safe) doing your business with that critter lurking in the shadows only a few feet away.

There were porcupine turds all around the hole. It’s like the porcupine was trying to use the privy for its intended purpose! Just with bad aim.

One of our party, Les Carter, decided the porc had to go.

An unrelated photo from the same trip. That’s me sliding down the mountain.

Les was a super outdoorsy guy, extremely competent. If anyone could evict a porcupine from a small shed, it was Les. He went in there with a good length of sturdy plank: a porcupine prod. We heard shuffling…and then a loud, strange THWACK! immediately followed by an emphatic exclamatory curse. I don’t remember the exact choice of words, but I do remember that it was a curse of astonishment.

Les emerged wide-eyed from the outside holding the 2x4 before him. The end of that plank was full of quills — not too surprising in itself. But several of those quills had gone all the way through the board. It looked like medieval weapon, bristling with spikes.

“I think we’ll let him stay in there,” Les said.

And that’s how I learned that you never, ever fuck with a porcupine.