5 Questions for Rick Wilberscheid from Chicago Magazine on Vimeo
The faintest whiff of eau de skunk had just pricked my nostrils when Rick Wilberschied, moving with the deliberation of an explosives expert sweating over a ticking time bomb, waved me over to him, a finger to his lips.
The setting was the back porch of a lovely home on the lovely White Deer Run golf course one lovely sunny June afternoon in Vernon Hills. Wilberschied, whose job is to trap rogue critters stirring up mischief in the urban veldt, had been summoned to investigate a family of skunks that had taken up residence under a concrete stoop at the back of the home. A few days earlier, Wilberschied had scouted the location and set two traps. The bait had been a tried-and-true blend of 11 herbs and spices that Wilberschied—a.k.a. the Critter Hunter, a.k.a. Dog the Bounty Hunter of the nuisance wildlife business—had hit upon during hours spent plying the fast-food byways of suburbia: the three-piece wing meal from Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Until that moment, I had been more than happy to loll in the warm sun, alternating my attention between Wilberschied girding for battle—pulling on leather gloves, grabbing a roll of duct tape, tearing a couple of plastic trash bags from the box—and a lively foursome of elderly women in visors and white skirts cackling over a missed putt a couple of hundred feet away. Suddenly, however, the winds shifted, and Wilberschied, straightening like a pointer, headed for the traps.
Wilberschied, 42, cut an incongruous figure in this suburban milieu of twittering birds and retired duffers. He wore jeans, thick-soled Skechers work boots, a do-rag with a wildlife camouflage print, and the kind of orange-tinted sports shades favored by macho cops and baseball outfielders. His long strawberry-blond hair spilled onto his shoulders and was only slightly lighter in color than the faintly reddish hue of his goatee. At six feet two inches tall and 238 pounds, he looked like Hulk Hogan minus the perma-tan, a reality show waiting to happen. He also looked like he knew what he was doing, a fact for which, at that moment, I was deeply thankful.
“Check this out,” he said, tilting one of the traps on its end. “You see that?” I leaned over and looked. Staring back at me was a small black haunch. A butt, to be more precise. A puckered butt. An angry butt. Not to put too fine a point on it, but it was a sight to give one pause.
Only slightly less dismaying was the faint leer Wilberschied wore as he whispered, in the hushed voice of a TV golf announcer, “You know what that’s called?” I shook my head as a sharp and bittersweet aroma, the precursor to a hot blast of skunk essence, I later learned, began to leak like radioactive material. “That,” Wilberschied said, “is a little thing we refer to as ‘cocked, locked, and ready to rock.’ ”
Read the rest of Bryan Smith’s profile of Rick in the September, 2008 issue of Chicago Magazine[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section]