My son called the incident many things, including porcupine removal, a science experiment, a learning experience, and doing me a favor. I called it “being stupid.” I love my son. He’s fourteen, adventurous, intelligent (usually), outgoing, and . . . did I mention adventurous?
It started when my husband and I noticed some of our wooden-handled tools had been chewed, along with some other items we keep in our storage shed. In fact, one of the walls of the shed had been chewed down. We also found some shallow holes dug throughout our back yard, and one of our trees had claw marks on the trunk and some of the bark had been pulled away. We didn’t know what to think, until my husband heard something in the middle of the night, and walked outside to find a large porcupine waddling around. He told us about the culprit over breakfast the next morning.
My son was thrilled. My husband was not. My husband called a porcupine removal service, which promised to send out a technician later that afternoon. I looked at my son’s face and realized he was sorely disappointed he wouldn’t get a chance to see this porcupine up close.
But, when he and his friend got home from school that day, they hunted around the backyard looking for any signs of the animal while I was still at work. They not only found signs, they found the animal itself. The porcupine was resting in a shallow hole underneath the wooden deck stairs, and it was not happy to be disturbed by a couple of overanxious teenage boys.
My son and his friend decided to “do me a favor” and do “porcupine removal” themselves. In truth, they really wanted to watch the animal in action and see what it would do. So, they scared it up out of its hiding place and followed its wobbly walk all over the yard, preventing its escape when it headed for the back fence. Finally, the boys got to see what they really wanted to see. The porcupine quills all stuck out, and the animal turned around so its hind quarters were facing its predators, almost daring them to attack.
My son reached out his tennis-shoe clad foot and prodded at the porcupine’s tail. The tail twitched out of the way, but the animal stood its ground. My son got a little braver, and his foot actually touched the porcupine’s rump. Sure enough, a few quills stuck into the rubber sole, much to my son’s delight! Now, he could study these quills up close.
The boys retreated slightly to look closer at the quills embedded in the shoe, and the porcupine turned its head around to check to see if they were still there. Sure enough, my son and his friend were still there, but they were so intent on pulling the quills out of the shoe that they didn’t see the porcupine run towards the fence until it was too late. It was gone. Technically, porcupine removal and my son’s science experience had been successful, but I was just grateful there was no damage to the boys other than to the shoe.