Timely thread. I just killed one in our yard last night. Probably my first ever. He pushed his luck too far.
When I was a kid, NH had a bounty on them. Bobcats, too. 50 cents a nose for the porcupines. Destructive on fruit trees, tool handles, even the side of a building. I remember many times as a kid, we'd hear them at night chewing on the side of the house and holler down to Dad, who'd go out and blast them. You had to hit them in the head. Body shots didn't count. I remember hearing of my aunt pumping a full box of 22s into one and it kept going. I saw my Dad shoot one in the body from a few feet away with a 30-06 with hunting ammo. The thing kept going, dragging its entrails in the dirt.
That was in the 60s. At some point, NH stopped all bounties, and I've been glad to see them wandering around our yard. They don't bother me, I dont bother them. ALthough I do have to be careful to not trip over one in the dark walking between buildings. We've nicknamed a couple of them "Chompy", because mostly they just chomp away on the grass all day. They seem to come and go. Supposedly, fishers know how to flip them over and attack their belly, so maybe that's why they periodically disappear until a new one shows up again.
We have had one or more hanging around for years. Several years ago, I planted some really nice apple trees. The best I ever had. There weren't even any known "local" porcupines at that time. The first night, the porcupine(s) hit them hard, girdling them and climbing up in them and eating off all the branches. I put a steel fence up around them the next day. That did no good at all. They just climbed the fence and finished them off. I was really ticked, but I restrained myself from going on a killing spree over it.
A couple years ago, we planted a couple more apple trees, not nearly (even after 2 years growing) as nice or healthy as the originals. I put up a 5-strand electric fence around them. All has been well. A couple "Chompies" have come and gone.
This spring a large female appeared and hung around, then there was a new little "Chompy" who spent the summer growing up all over our lawn. I was concerned he was so small at first he might walk under the lowest strand of the electric fence, but we had no issues. Mother seemed to disappear after awhile.
Yesterday afternoon, I looked out the window and realized there was a very large one INSIDE the electric fence perimeter. I went out and shut off the fence and took the gate down to shoo him out of there. That's when I noticed he'd completely girdled the best of the two trees. That did it for me! A 20 gauge shot to the head from a couple feet away and he was DRT.
I wondered if he might be good eating - after all, he eats nothing but the finest grasses and APPLE TREES. I knew the wife would have a fit over it, though, so didn't bother asking and I took him out in the woods for the fishers and coyotes to have.
On the electric fence, I think maybe the quills are not conductive on a big one with big quills, so maybe it's ineffective. Sure seemed to be for that big one. So I asked my wife if we're going to have apple trees or allow the porcupines to live, because, living in the deep woods, you sure can't have both. I guess we're leaning toward not trying to kill all the porcupines. If we had a dog, that'd be a different problem, but we don't. I had a dog once here and he got into a porcupine so bad we had to take him to the vet hospital to be anesthesized to get them all out.
So that begs the question - any of you ever eat porcupine?