Here’s the scoop on your everyday porcupine

Time to get our gear together for the upcoming “Quill Pig” season which opens Sept. 1 and lasts until March 30, 2019.

Most people thought it was a joke when the Game Commission announced a season for a species that was considered nothing more than a nuisance. Nevertheless, we must not let any creature be threatened with extinction. Porkies are most visible now as they frequent roadsides and meadows and tree trunks.

Direct contact is to be deliberately avoided by all wise hunters, but of course curious dogs get into the most trouble. They are lumbering creatures, running at a pace that most anything can catch them. So they depend on their quills for protection and with good reason.

Its thousands of hairs are actually needle-sharp quills that are released from the Porkie’s hide at the slightest touch. Contrary to folk lore, they cannot launch their quills.

Biologically speaking, the end of each quill is equipped with microscopic barbes. Once quills are embedded in flesh the quill expands and with every movement of the victim’s body, the quills dig deeper. Most animals get the quills in the face as they attempt to smell the Porcupine. This is devastating and can be lethal if not attended to immediately.

Fishers are one animal that seems invulnerable to a porkie’s quills. Fishers actually hunt porcupines deliberately and can wipe them out of particular areas. We think of porcupines as huge nuisances. Anyone who has a cabin in the woodlands knows how fond this pest is of eating wood. They girdle the bark on trees, weakening a tree greatly by this practice. They love to gnaw on tool handles, woodwork on cabins or outbuildings, anything it seems that portends of salt, which they love.

In the summer they feed on stems, roots, berries, seeds nuts and grass. It is their destructive tastes that drive them to destroy outhouses, sheds, or anything wooden delicacy they can uncover.

Porcupines are actually quite vocal, although I will tell you that the first time you hear the loud whining howl of a porky you will get a chill up your back. The first time I heard that sound, I had no idea what I was hearing. But I was up in an tree with my bow and arrow in archery season so I just stayed put, watching intently when I spotted in the distance a porcupine came toddling out of the underbrush.

I ignored that animal, staying on the lookout for the strange howling creature I had been hearing. The porcupine slowly made its way toward me, and when it got almost beneath the tree I was in, I watched it open its mouth and emit that piercing sound I’d been hearing. I laughed out loud to realize I’d been spooked by a dumb porcupine! But, that’s how you learn things I guess.

We are told that porkies have a very low birth rate. I don’t doubt that. In my most vivid imagination, I cannot fathom how they ever get the job done. I read, however, that the young are born with quills ready for action.

You can determine that a den tree is being used by a porcupine by their yellow, crescent-shaped droppings.

I can tell you that I give porcupines a wide berth whenever I see one. I have no desire to hunt them, although I might want to clean them out of the territory if one had taken up residence around my house or cabin.

One more thing

The National Rifle Association has endorsed the new nominee for Supreme Court Justice.

Here is part of what Wayne Lapierre, Executive Director of NRA said.

“Regarding his tenure on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Judge Brett Kavanaugh wrote a strong dissenting opinion in opposition to Washington, D.C.’s ban on commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms and registration requirement by applying a historical test consistent with Justice Antonin Scalia’s majority opinion in the Heller decision.

The narrow 5-4 majority that recognized a fundamental, individual right to self-defense in the landmark Heller and McDonald decisions will be secured with Kavanaugh’s confirmation. The NRA’s six million members and tens of millions of supporters who voted for President Trump have ensured that the framers’ vision of constitutional freedom will have a strong voice on the court for decades to come.

Chris Cox, executive director of NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA), along with the entire ILA team stand ready to fight for the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh.