Happy Halloween my friends and I hope everybody has fun tonight with the Trick or Treating crowds. I know I’ll be coming in from the woods in time to pass out a few treats to any ghouls and goblins that may show up at my door. Just as well too, since I’m not entirely fond of walking out of the woods after dark with the skunk apes roaming about this time of year. What, there’s some of you who haven’t heard of Florida’s skunk ape?
The skunk apes are sort of an equatorial bigfoot, living throughout Florida, mostly in the wetlands and dense forests. Generally, a skunk ape stands well over six feet tall, averaging about six feet and six inches standing upright and weighing in excess of 400 pounds. Skunk apes are human-like in appearance at a distance, but if you get close enough you can see that they are covered in long reddish brown, shaggy hair.
In Florida’s heat, it’s that long thick hair many believe is the cause of its name, “Skunk Ape.” Skunk apes stink! If you’ve never smelled one, they smell a little like a mixture of rotten cabbage, swamp gas and well used gym socks. Old-timers used to say they had a musk gland, just like that of a skunk, but I don’t know about that.
Lately, we’ve been having a lot of skunk ape activity around the ranch. It’s their mating season and you can hear them calling out their screeching cooing calls in the darkness while searching for a mate. Generally, they’re reclusive and peaceful, but when their hormones are up, they may become hard to predict. So, it’s best to keep an eye out and pay attention to the wind to help you avoid them.
The stories of the skunk ape go back a really long way. The Muscogee and Seminole tribes claim they’ve been seeing skunk apes in the woods for hundreds of years. They called them, “esti capcaki,” or the “tall man.” He is the protector of the woods, they say, and he keeps away those who would damage the forests. Even when you don’t see the Florida Skunk Ape, they believe, he watches you, forever vigilantly gazing over those who enter his domain and using his mystic powers to vanish into thin air.
Lots of stories from the Floridian settlers of skunk apes raiding their chicken pens, killing cattle or horses and one farmer got a real good look at one on a full moon as the ape walked off with a pair of two hundred pound hogs; one under each arm. Another time, down along the western bank of the Withlacoochee River, there was a young couple picnicking. As they sat enjoying their Spam and cheese sandwiches they heard a trickle of water start nearby and become a full stream pouring into the river. They turned to look and there, not fifteen yards away, was a skunk ape taking a leak.
Still, they remained quiet and the skunk ape moved off away from them. That was when the wind shifted and the smell of the beast was darn near overpowering to them.
I’ve smelled them, might even have seen one a time or two, but I beat a hasty retreat each time. Just be aware out there when you’re stomping around in the swamps and thickets; you can’t ever tell, Old Skunk might just have his eye on you.
I thank you so much for allowing me the chance to visit with y’all here each week. All feedback is welcome and I love to hear a good hunting story, so feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]. God bless and good hunting!