Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Porcupine Made One Sharp Impression on Camping Couple

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Porcupine Made One Sharp Impression on Camping Couple

Article excerpt

In the Jan. 29 Post-Gazette I read that most Pennsylvanians, including curator Henry Kacprzyk of the Pittsburgh zoo, have never seen a porcupine in the wild.

Some Pennsylvanians must have, because there's now a porcupine hunting season and the game commission has proposed lowering the bag limit. A season for hunting the quilly beasts was opened, supposedly to prevent their doing property damage, but some commercial hunters may be taking it too far.

What kind of property damage, you may wonder. Embedding quills in hunting dogs' noses? Bursting hot-air balloons? Knocking over small buildings?

I've seen a porcupine in the wild, and it was doing property damage at the time -- property damage we can still exhibit 45 years later. My husband was less lucky. He not only saw the critter -- he felt it.

One summer, Bob and I went on a weekend backpacking trip on Vermont's Long Trail. It was a good choice for a not-so-athletic person (me) because we didn't have to pack a tent -- there were wooden sleeping platforms at spots along the trail. And the guide to the Long Trail said there were no snakes. Good.

The guide said that there were porcupines, which could be a nuisance. It recommended hanging food high, out of Porky's reach. Porcupines, like other wild animals, were especially attracted to salt. If we needed to chase a porcupine away, we should hit it on the nose -- the vulnerable part not covered with sharp quills -- with a flashlight.

Bob parked our car at a trailhead, we shouldered our packs with our sleeping bags and food, and we hiked in. We reached the shelter, a wide wooden platform with upper and lower levels, before dark. A group of boys, probably in their early teens, was already at the shelter. They were "woodchucks" -- native Vermonters.

After supper we stowed our food on the upper platform, then whiled away time chatting. The boys told us a lot of stories, some of which we knew weren't true. …

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