If you hunt in North American timber long enough, you’re bound to run across a “quill pig” at some point. Porcupines are intriguing creatures to say the least, but do you consider them to be docile forest friends or harmful pricks?
Hunting mostly in the dense woodlands of Minnesota and Wisconsin, I’ve always maintained a shoot-on-sight policy. Why? Because every time I’ve come across a porky, it has been perched in a tree, enjoying an all-you-can-eat wood buffet. That can be a costly meal.
Strip the bark off any tree and it’s susceptible to all sorts of problems, such as disease and often death. There are plenty of ins and outs that determine the value of a tree, but one tree can be worth thousands; that’s only counting the monetary value. Porcupines also love treated lumber, which can easily mean stand destruction.
Last weekend, my friend and I were attempting to hunt ruffed grouse (we didn’t see any) when we came across an area completely trampled by some sort of creature. We thought coyotes were denning nearby. Nope. We inspected the area, filled with downed tree limbs and—ah, ha. Quill pig. Just as I found the telltale sign of porky—wood chips at the base of a pine tree—my friend pointed up in the tree at the prickly pig. It quickly found a quiet home on the forest floor, courtesy of a high-velocity nudge.