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Old 02-05-2010, 11:56 AM   #1
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Best Wildlife Experiences

I'm sure many of us have had some interesting and unusual sightings of wildlife while hiking and camping. I have fortunately had many, many great experiences. Here are 5 of my best:

1. While sitting on the shore of a remote little ADK pond very quietly I suddenly spotted a mink about 30 ft. away crossing left to right in my field of view as it walked along the shore. Then another, about the same size, followed it and then......4 very small mink kits took up the rear following their parents. I watched them unseen for about 2-3 minutes.

2. While bushwacking off of Treadway Mt. down towards Devil's Washdish and following the outlet down to Wolf Pond - my 2 sons and I spotted the only fisher I've ever seen as it walked alongside the rocky brook.

3. While hiking the Quehanna Wild Area of northcentral Pennsylvania, I came across a large bull elk. As it crashed through the small saplings to my left, I was astonished at the size of the antler rack and how quickly it then suddenly melted away, not to be seen again.

4. Canoeing on East Canada Creek just south of Powley Place (very quietly) I came across 2 otters who chattered, played and dived and reappeared for several minutes. They were curious of my presence but didn't seem overly frightened.

5. While hiking in a backcountry area of the Poconos in Pennsylvania with my son and our 2 dogs, we came across a large rattlesnake sunning it self in the middle of the trail. This was a relatively open area which had been selectively logged recently so there was plenty of sunlight. Not more than an hour later on a rocky ridge - another rattler. Both rattled warnings at us- luckily the dogs were kept clear.

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Old 02-05-2010, 01:23 PM   #2
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Good thread....

1) One time I was bowhunting in Rensalearville State Forest. I had a ground blind set up in some pines & got myself situated about a half hour before sunrise. I started to doze a little just about sun-up time when a shadow kind of stirred me...I looked up & I was damn near nose to nose with an incoming snowy owl...I'm not sure which one of us was the most freaked out.

2) Another time I was at a friends camp up west of Schroon Lake, after a night of some pretty hard partying I decided to jog down some old logging roads with my Belgian Shepard & see if I could shake off a half a hangover. Down the trail a piece, all of a sudden 3 pine martens crossed a ways in front of me....what was unusal was that they were size the big one first, then the middle one, then a smaller guy....just like the "three Bears"..I looked at my dog & him at me like "did you see that"?...when I told the guys at camp about what I saw they said sure have another drink for breakfast.

3) One other episode involved a dead deer...the carcass was laying on the ice & I was watching a group of ravens feed on it through my binoculars..all of a sudden the birds parted & made way for a big ol' bald eagle...who walked up to the carcass grabbed himself a hearty chunk & flew all happened in less than a minute, but it was a sight I'll never forget.

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Old 02-05-2010, 01:51 PM   #3
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> J & I were canoeing in Maine and watched a buck in velvet swim across the river/lake ... we raced to get close enough for some pictures, and were rewarded with some awesome photos (he posed for us on the shoreline).
> J & I were hiking along a trail outside of Homer, AK, on our way to a spot where moose were supposed to be hanging out ... we came to an open spot and saw an eagle's nest high up in one of the spruces ... we lingered a while and watched the parents feed the young eagles up in the nest (thankfully we had headnets, otherwise we would have been eaten alive by the skeeters)
> J & I were on a boat in the bay near Homer and an otter came swimming up close to the boat, and acted as if it wanted to climb aboard ... within minutes we found out why ... the black fins of two orcas came cutting through the water and passed just behind our boat ... after they passed by the otter took off!
> J & I were hiking in Grand Teton NP (with the boys ... so this was several years ago) and we came upon a moose leisurely snacking just off the trail ... we waited for a while until he moved and then we continued on the trail. On the same trail we heard all this noise in the willows off to our right & soon out came a young moose.
> Yellowstone ... hiking along (with the boys) & we ran into a small herd of buffalo ... we gingerly went around them (J grew up on a farm, and reassured us that it would be no different than walking around cows out in the pasture) ... in hindsight it was a silly thing to do (we were pretty close to them), but it sure was an awesome experience!
> a couple winters ago we were snowshoeing upriver from Auger Falls (on the Griffin side) and saw a river otter (?) playing on the ice, sliding into the river, climbing back out, and repeating this over and over ... finally he/she got tired of it and disappeared into the river.
> J & I were on the shuttle bus in Denali when two caribou trotted across the road in front of the bus ... the driver slowed so we could watch them, and within a minute or two a couple of wolves appeared, trotting along, following the caribou's trail. The bus driver, who reminded us of the bus driver on the Simpsons, quietly said, "wow, man ... wolves stalking caribou".

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Old 02-05-2010, 01:54 PM   #4
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PW ... an owl dive-bombed me when I was hiking along the NPT ... scared the **** outta me! Took awhile before my heart slowed down ... hiking along, solo, in a section that seemed spooky anyways ... my pace certainly quickened a bit after that!

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Old 02-05-2010, 03:53 PM   #5
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1. Ducks at Play. I work very close to an urban creek. In fact, I used to park across the creek, so I got to see a lot of things from the footbridge that crosses it. Several times I’ve watched a pair of grown-up wild ducks playing. They fly upstream to a spot just around the bend where a stretch of swift water starts. They alight, ride the fast current downstream, and float into a big eddy below the bridge. Then they step out onto the creek bank, kind of shake themselves off, and fly upstream to do it all over, again and again. They’re having FUN, don’t tell me they aren’t.

2. The Otter Gang. This happens at about the same time in the early summer every year on a certain pond sorta-kinda in the vicinity of St. Regis/Floodwood Road. I’m guessing there’s a mama otter tending to her babies on shore. If I happen to paddle too close to “their” bit of shoreline, a gang of about 6 to 12 adolescent otters comes swimming out to chase me away. They all chatter at the top of their lungs, clamber around, and step on each other’s heads. But mainly they are SCREAMING at me. The exact spot shifts from year to year, but it’s always in the same quadrant of the pond. I used to think the young otter toughs were hilarious, but then I read about some teenage girls in CA getting severely bitten by otters, so I’ve been giving been giving them a wide berth ever since.

3. Suddenly - Really Big Beaver. I was paddling along in my 10.5-ft. Hornbeck when all of a sudden just below the surface in the water next to me was a ginormous beaver. I was too thunderstruck to do anything but gape at him in awe. He took off like a torpedo.

4. Horse Fly Pilots His Own Boat. One early fall day on Follensby Clear Pond, there was a bunch of leaves floating on the surface. Most of them were moving with the slop-slop-slop of the waves, but one leaf was humming along straight into the wind. Huh? How could that be? So I slooooowly and quietly paddled toward it until I could see... On an oval-shaped red leaf, floating stem-up, a horse-fly was perched on the stem, buzzing and flapping his wings like crazy, and the leaf was skimming along on the surface of the water. Horse Fly was both the pilot and his own motor.

5. Deer Nearly Ran Me Down. I was trout fishing on Limestone Creek out in the country, but not far from farms, when a huge deer came crashing through the underbrush right next to me, jumped the creek, and kept running. I think he believed he was being chased by dogs, because I could hear some barking in the distance, but they never appeared. If I’d been 6 inches to the left, Mr. Deer would have flattened me.

6. Loons Going about Their Business. If there’s a loon or a pair of them not far from you on a pond, just sit there absolutely still and be perfectly quiet. Eventually, they’ll forget you’re there. If you’re quiet enough, you become just a part of the scenery, and if you're lucky, they’ll drift toward you. I’ve seen loons from fairly close up take off with their big-butted lumbering run, and I’ve seen their equally ungraceful landings. I’ve watched mama loons take their babies out for a practice swim around the pond. Mama takes roll call every now and then. “Hoo,” she toots, meaning “I’m here, where are you?” And each baby is expected to toot a “hoo” back at her. If one baby is silent, Mama turns around and gives him a stern look until he speaks up and gives an account of himself, “hoo.” “I’m here, too!”
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Old 02-05-2010, 04:36 PM   #6
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I haven't had a lot worth mentioning, but here are a few:

Of the 3-4 bear encounters, one took place at Colden Dam, when at least at that time it was not if you would see a bear at night, but when. Entering the area, a ranger told us to hang our food a 1/4 mi. away (before canisters were required). Pots banging all night long by a large group nearby. Bear came and wandered between our tents, casting an eerie shadow, but no damage (we had no food there). Next night we hung it in a different place. Bear knocked down a tree (!) adjoining the one with the bear hang. Frustrated that the food didn't come down, he left.

Paddling on the French River in Canada, we encountered a bear on one of the many islands near the Georgian Bay. On the same trip we saw a Massasauga rattlesnake swimming near our canoe. We decided not to go swimming that day...

Pine Martin visit once in winter at lunch, near the start of the herd path to Gray. Did a real cute act, but it became obvious all he wanted was my lunch!

Hiking one of the 14ers in Colorado we had a visit by a marmot. This one stood up and begged for food like a dog, then went after a hiking companion's bag of Fritos and got it, leaving a trail of Fritos all over the place.

Encountered a moose swimming in the water while we were paddling the Allagash River in Maine. Joanne took pictures, but we soon noticed it was swimming toward us! We paddled away quickly and the moose stopped. At that moment, looking back, a couple of her babies crossed the river. We were between them and the mother!

Got chased down the Blueberry Footpath in the Sewards by a grouse protecting her young.

Near our house, Joanne was walking in an open field and came almost face to face with a pack of coyotes, feeding on a fresh deer carcass, blood dripping from their mouths. One stopped eating and looked up at her, then went back to its meal.

I came upon a fawn once near JBL (common in that area). It was fascinated by us and stared at us for a good 3-4 minutes while Joanne took pictures, then decided to leave.

Numerous loons on various ponds in the Adirondacks, one of which (on Siamese Pond) virtually posed for Joanne's camera, showing off.

Saw a bald eagle on Ashokan Reservoir, where there is/was a nesting pair (many go there to view them).

Got chased off of Pyramid Mt. lookout by a bunch of bees (hornets?). I think they qualified as WILDlife at the time!
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Old 02-05-2010, 05:11 PM   #7
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Squabbitts.....beware.....could be trouble...seem to be multiplying with the lack of snow...
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Old 02-05-2010, 06:16 PM   #8
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This thread is a great read! My most recent cool wildlife experience was last weekend. I was driving up the Palisades Parkway a couple of miles north of the George Washington Bridge and a bald eagle soared over, just above the tree line. Seeing this once severely endangered bird so close to NYC is what made it special.

Moose - Last summer I was paddling up a winding stream on a hot August day, came around a corner, and there was a cow moose right there. We were both stunned and startled. My camera was on my lap, but that huge, lanky thing exploded up over the alders before I could get a "shot" off. It was amazing seeing that thing move like that. A couple of years earlier, from the top of an esker I watched a cow and two calves feeding in a beaver pond for over an hour.

Coyote - Last summer I was sitting in the grass along a beach with my camera on and ready to take a picture of an immature loon out on the lake. Suddenly this coyote appears just a few feet in front of me. It was just trotting along the beach with not a care in the world, and I didn't see it coming because I was looking out on the lake and was back in the grass. Even though I wasn't looking through the camera, I pressed the button and got a great shot of it looking right at me with a toothy smirk, a fraction of a second before it went into "oh sh*t!" mode and raced off.
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Old 02-05-2010, 07:29 PM   #9
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Lots of awesome stories! I don't have many great ones, but two of my most memorable are:

Hiking in CT, I heard some rustling in the leaves. I look over, and there is a long-tailed weasel. I didn't even know that these lived in CT, and I never expected to see one, which made it really cool. It stayed in the area for a while and I had a great time just watching him run all around.

But by far my coolest experience happened when my family was in South Dakota. We were driving around, and saw a large herd of buffalo. My Dad said that he saw a road up on the hill behind them, and we would have better looks from there. We drove to that road, and as we crested the top of the hill, so did the buffalo. They promptly surrounded our car, paying no mind to us. We were literally surrounded by the herd. It was one of the coolest, most tense experiences I have had. I will never forget it- and luckily we got some video!
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Old 02-05-2010, 07:50 PM   #10
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a young grizzly

I was working at a resort in the Rockies, near Saskatchewan River Crossing, along the Banff-Jasper corridor. My then boyfriend and I were walking to a look-out when he grabbed my hand and whispered "Don't move, baby.". About fifty feet away, a young male grizzly bear was munching away on the vegetation. He stood up on his hind legs to a height of 7 feet or so, sniffed the air, (and this is when I thought we were going to die), looked directly at us, then seemed to shrug and went back to his munching. We very carefully and slowly walked back to the truck...well, my boyfriend pretty much carried me...

Closer to home, watching otters play in a "hidden" pond, encountering a coyote that bolted away as soon as we looked at each other, seeing a great grey owl catch a rabbit, skiing through a group of whitetails, snorkling on Big Rideau Lake and surfacing face to face with a six foot long Black Rat Snake... all while doing trailwork or enjoying life on the Rideau Trail near Ottawa.

In New Mexico, seeing a blue rattlesnake while hiking Las Tres Hermanas...
"The trouble with normal is it always get worse."
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Old 02-05-2010, 08:29 PM   #11
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A young booze stealer...

Saw this ol' boy sneaking up on my "blackberry brandy" one night by Whitney Lake.....haven't done much solo packin' after that.....
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Old 02-05-2010, 11:02 PM   #12
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Big bear wanting to share lunch with my fiance and myself on top of Burnt Mountain while we were sunbathing...
Loon swimming under our canoe like an attack sub on the spillway from Lows Upper Damn.
Short Tailed weasel playing around while on deer stand.
Otters Sliding down bank in snow on Fishing Brook,and doing it over and over!
Hawk having a snack out of Delaware River.
Five eagles soaring over South Bay, Cranberry lake.
12 beavers in 15 traps in one night, and the coat I had made for my wife.
Huge 10 point buck in velvet swimming by as I was fishing in Fishing Brook Flow.Where was the camera.......
6 mice in 6 traps in one nite at camp....
Be careful, don't spread invasive species!!

When a dog runs at you,whistle for him.
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Old 02-05-2010, 11:59 PM   #13
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Here are the photos of our swimming buck in Maine (see post above).
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Old 02-06-2010, 12:04 AM   #14
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Eagle and reflection ... taken along the Chena Hot Springs Road, Alaska
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Old 02-06-2010, 12:44 AM   #15
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When I was a scout at Sabbatis, I went out looking for blueberries to eat with my breakfast one morning. Walked a short way from the campsite and saw what I though was another scout bending over about 10 feet from me, wearing a strange jacket. Took a long moment to realize I was looking at a fawn's back. S/he was feeding and didn't look up to see me for a long time. Not sure where mama was. It was the closest I've ever gotten to a deer.

Had a wonderful (in hindsight) encounter with a young bear this past summer at Campsite 21 on Lake Lila. He kept coming into the campsite one night, and we kept driving him off with shouts, sticks, and stones. He profiled himself along the beach with the moon behind him. Beautiful.
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Old 02-06-2010, 02:22 AM   #16
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I was at Chateaugay lake with my family and we spotted a seagull in the lake,fish hook in his beak as he floated.A camper retrieved him and ,using needlenose plyers, was able to free him from his misery.He kept the hook and sinker!
A gray Heron rests on one foot every summer across the street from our home.She wades in Chittenango creek,looking for water striders. Patience is a virtue for her!She ascends upward and her wing span is quite wide.Quietly she descends onto another spot in the creek. Looncry
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Old 02-06-2010, 11:45 AM   #17
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The best wildlife experience I had was one morning in the summer in northern NH. My friend and I went out with our kayaks headed to the Androscoggin River. We decided to take a side trip to see if any moose were out (it was at dawn) and we came across a bear running around and putting on show in someone's front yard. We then came upon six moose playing and running in a field, jumping up at each other or about 15 minutes. We headed up to Pontook Reservoir to put the kayaks in and had a bald eagle land in a dead birch tree near us. We watched it for about ten minutes as it flew down to a pile of rocks and drank water from the reservoir. We paddled away after the eagle flew away only to find an osprey nest up the river with chicks as the mother osprey brought a fish to the nest in is claws. Best six hours of wildlife viewing I've ever had.
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Old 02-06-2010, 12:46 PM   #18
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Took a high school friend and her 8 y/o daughter out for a slow paddle on Paradox Creek, came around a bend and coasted by, 4-5' away, from a doe and fawn swimming across the middle of the creek. Daughter's look was just wonder. All mom could say was "Now, that's a memory."

Same creek, few years later, heard a commotion in the water, near where a small brook enters the creek and there is a gravel bar leaving the creek about 8" deep. Saw two does, side by side, heads turned as if talking to each other and their two fawns, jumping and splashing each other. Watched them for 45 minutes, they obviously playing with each other, while the does looked like any two mothers in a conversation on a school playground.
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Old 02-06-2010, 02:48 PM   #19
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Not in the Adirondacks but interesting just the same. It was 4 years ago during a late fall paddling trek on Charleston Lake in Eastern Ontario. I was relaxing at camp on the lake shore after a morning hike exploring ancient rock shelters when a couple loons in their fall plumage slowly passed in front of me. My first thought was it may have been a little late in the year to observe loons. A few minutes later the loons passed by again but they were accompanied by a couple more. Strange... Loons are usually very territorial and very rarely seen in groups.

The loons kept pacing the shore back and forth with their number constantly increasing. I've been spending time in the wilderness for more than 30 years and I had never seen more than two at a time in the same area but I counted 23 birds. They were mainly silent but at one point, they started to get vocal (no classical loon sounds, actually sounded more like a bunch of ducks...) and the diving began. That was the most incredible wildlife sighting in my life. The water was bubbling up around them and each time one would come back up, you could see it swallow a big shiner and dive back down.

The feeding frenzy was over in about 10 minutes and despite my best efforts, I wasn't able to spot a single loon for the rest of the weekend...
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Old 02-06-2010, 05:06 PM   #20
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A few pictures that I've gotten:

From the Grand Canyon - I was told it is a Grand Canyon Pink rattlesnake. Something was wrong with him, as he just sat there coiled up and wouldn't move. Also happened to be about 20 yards from where I pitched my tent.

One of the many little reptiles found in the Grand Canyon.

While backpacking the Lost Coast in California, these fellas were just lounging around watching me work.

A common mountain rodent, this one a resident of the Sierra-Nevadas:

In Glacier NP, I had stopped to put my crampons on. After a few minutes I looked up and realized I wasn't alone:

Grand Tetons, Wyoming. Apparently this fella was known to hang out in the area and was quite accustomed to people walking down the trail. What a show off.

Weminuche Wilderness, Colorado, a ways into the backcountry - this is easily the most interesting wildlife encounter I have had. The goats came right into our camp in the evening. They were literally five feet away a few times before we told them to back off. They hung out with us for the evening. As we were falling asleep that night, we would hear them stomping closer and closer to the tent until we yelled at them to go away. In the morning one was still there. He kept watch on us to make sure we cleaned up properly and then wished us well as we headed out.

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