The other day as I was leaving for work at about 0h-dark-thirty and I was forced to stop on my porch in terror. Not a second out of the door and I smelled the unmistakable odor of skunk wafting across my neighborhood. Not wanting to get doused with a skunk bath first thing in the morning I am always careful to check the shadows and under the car and along the gully in front of the house before I sprint to the car.
No skunk, thank goodness. Once before I came out my back door in the early morning no-light and my flashlight caught a couple of beedy eyes in the back of the carport. Thinking it was just our outside cat, I began to call it as I bent to put out some food. I stopped because there by my foot was the cat. As I looked more into the carport, I noticed movement and out moseyed a skunk. Me and the cat both departed hastily.
Both times I was lucky, and the skunk was lucky, too. Once a few years ago, a skunk got in under our house and the smell in the house was unbearable. We had to get an exterminator to take care of it. (Not so lucky for the skunk that time.)
It's days like these that only enforce the fact that here in the south and in my suburban neighborhood, there are animals aplenty. Not just the odd skunk or passels of squirrels. I've had a raccoon spend the night in my shed, possums lurking along the road in the early morning and of course, the odd skunk (lucky or not.) My neighbors tell stories of deer in their back yard, and I've seen odd eyes staring out under bushes as my car lights hit them at night.
The South is full of animals and not just out in the country areas. Most of us learn to live with them. I point to the Southerners living in Louisiana who deal with 'gaters on a regular basis. They are both a consternation and a unique addition to our days (the 'gaters, not the Southerners!)
As man encroaches on the wilderness more and more, we find animals in our back yards more and more. It's not a Southern exclusive by any means. But my Southern Neighbors treat it like an other slight annoyance, they turn it into advantage. This means turning them wild things into food.
I watch a southern show about alligator hunting. The 'gaters are hunted yearly to keep the numbers from becoming too high. On one episode, a couple of the hunters went out into the swamp and hunted squirrels for a stew for dinner. They did not kill for sport, and used all the meat that day.
It's this close proximity that makes this seem like a trip to the grocery store and southerners use it easily. They don't hunt for sport, and you'll find that most proud southern hunters wouldn't be caught dead hunting big game, nor putting their heads on the walls.
I don't hunt, unless you count hunting for bargains at the local thrift store. But I sure appreciate those who do.