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Best wildlife encounters?
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Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Best wildlife encounters? on 02/27/2013 00:05:46 MST Print View

We came within throwing distance of mountain goats in Denali National Park. They weren't concerned with us at all.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Wildlife...of the aquatic variety. on 02/27/2013 00:27:59 MST Print View

My most memorable sightings were from the cockpit of my kayak. I had a gray whale surface 10' off my quarter, so I didn't see it right away. I heard it blow and turned to see the tail going down. Talk about amazing! I padded the other direction a bit and watched it work its way around a bay, following the six fathom line on my chart. There must have been food in the mud at that depth.

I've seen Orcas, lots of seals, river otters, schools of Dall's porpoise. And the birds: great blue herons, eagles, osprey, too many kinds of gulls to identify, pelicans, oyster catchers and all the small wading birds and ducks.

I remember floating out the Nisqually River delta with the tide. With the current, there was no need to paddle so I sat still and quiet to have a harbor seal surface 6' away, it's sleek head sliding up out of the water to surprise me, and looking at me with huge dark eyes. I can see where the myths and legends of the seal people came from.

On the land side, I've seen lots of deer, elk, a bobcat, black bears at distance, mountain goats, rabbits, chipmunks and squirrels. Lots of birds too.

Hummingbirds are one of my favorites. My father put out feeders around his cabin, bringing them in large numbers and 4 or 5 species. If you went outside wearing a flowery Hawaiian shirt, they would fly right up to check you out. There too, I can see where fairy legends came from-- perhaps Tinkerbell was really a hummingbird.

Last year we went to Boundary Bay in BC Canada to see the snowy owls. Awesome birds. The snow geese migrate through here. Watching the huge birds land in wave after wave at sunset is quite a sight.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Craig.... on 02/27/2013 13:54:24 MST Print View

We often live at nature's mercy. Glad you got out safe.

Edited by T.L. on 02/27/2013 13:54:57 MST.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Craig.... on 02/27/2013 14:34:47 MST Print View

There are some sharky areas down here, but I feel for Northern Californians/Pacific Northwesterners.

But on the whole, I think the KFC Double Down is far more dangerous to our species than any of the predators we're talking about here.


Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Wildlife... on 02/27/2013 16:39:57 MST Print View

>> I think the KFC Double Down is far more dangerous to our species than any of the predators we're talking about here. <<

Very true, but I'd much prefer eating myself to death over being eaten to death.

Surfers in my area are more likely to die from frost bite than shark bite.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Wildlife on 02/27/2013 17:19:26 MST Print View

I took my 3 boys to Yellowstone a few years ago. We decided to hike up Mt. Washburn. We saw a grizzly rooting around very near the trailhead. We were all pretty excited. The real excitement started though on our way down. There was a heard of probably 70 of these creatures, Bighorn Sheep I believe, right on the trail. They were regularly doing these hear butts within 10-20 feet. It was an amazing show.

Head butting Sheep

We saw a lot of wildlife in Yellowstone, but this up close encounter still stands out.

On a trip to Costa Rica, near Montezuma, I walked with my boys down a deserted stretch of beach. It was really hot so we ducked back into the trees a bit. There was a playful group of Capuchins enjoying a tangled web of branches. We watched until they got tired and rested on this branch.

Capuchins of Montezuma

When the monkeys were done, my boys climbed the tangle.

Stuart R
(Scunnered) - F

Locale: Scotland
Re: Scary creatures in the night... on 02/28/2013 06:04:01 MST Print View

I remember several years ago being kept awake by the sound of a snipe drumming directly overhead. It's a really eeire noise at night if you have not heard it before.

Edited by Scunnered on 02/28/2013 14:40:06 MST.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Best wildlife encounters? on 02/28/2013 06:16:25 MST Print View

Not my encounter (unfortunately) and yes, this was a "tourist activity" but this would rate very high for me

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Scary creatures in the night... on 02/28/2013 09:03:27 MST Print View

How about a couple raccoons fighting in a tree directly over your tent? Like a cat fight with the volume at 11.

Bogs and Bergs
(Islandized) - F

Locale: Newfoundland
wildlife on 02/28/2013 10:14:46 MST Print View

Dale, that would probably beat my munching deer. I sure was surprised how loudly deer swallow, though.

Here's one where the animal had me stumped. I was solo and days from anywhere, made a base camp and spent over a week dayhiking from it. I became aware the second day that a red fox lived there. Glimpses at first, then she started hiding in ferns and watching me (I'd bet money she'd never seen a human before). I pretended not to notice, and made sure the food was secure. One morning while it was still dark I went and sat in the bushes beside the nearby pond. A small spit of land extended into the pond in front of me. First light and the fox came through the bushes beside me, upwind, walked out on the spit, yawned, stretched, scratched, washed, and only then realized I was there. Uh-oh. Getting out meant coming even closer to me. I made a big show of not paying any attention to her, and she relaxed, even washed some more. I soon turned my back to let her get away unseen.

Well, back at camp later that day, I guess she figured I'd proven myself and now we were friends. She invited me to play! Hopped around me like a bunny and then did the foreleg-stretch deep bow that all dogs do to initiate play. I had no idea what to do. I didn't think she'd fetch. No potential tug-of-war toys around. Didn't want to risk a play-nip getting infected, given how far out I was, so wrestling seemed like a bad idea. Stumped. I stared at her for a bit and walked away. Still feel bad about it.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
bear on 02/28/2013 11:10:52 MST Print View

Not backpacking, but I took this video as the wife and I were up in a tree stand. Sorry for the messed up video at the end. Was more concerned with the bear on its hind legs about to climb the tree we're in.

Nelson Sherry

Locale: Mid-Willamette Valley
Too many to remember . . . on 02/28/2013 21:09:09 MST Print View

Bears, eagles, fish, deer, skate, ground squirel . . .

Denali Nat Park 1989ish: My friend and I were on a day hike. We were well educated about best practices in the Park and around bears, but, being young men, when we saw fresh bear sign, we just walked on making lots of noise talking about whatever came to our mind. As we walked around a corner along the creek bed we were following, there in front of us was a sow grizzly and two spring cubs about 20 feet in front of us. Oh crap. The sow looked up from eating her berries, then put her head back down and kept eating. The two cubs looked up and started coming toward us and following us as we backed away . . . double crap, they were maybe 6 feet in front of us at the closest. Finally the cubs quit following us when we backed across the creek and left the area. Mom didn't seem the least bit concerned!

Denali Nat Park, the next summer: My soon-to-be-wife and I were hiking on a peak above the park hotel when an arctic ground squirrel came up to my wife and started licking her shin, and kept doing so for several minutes.

Kachimak Bay Alaska ~1988: Spent two days with Art Wolfe photographing an eagles nest with two fledgling eagles in it that was in the top of a tree about 30 feet out and below the top of the cliff where we sat in a hastily made blind.

Kachimak Bay, same summer: Went fishing at the head of an inlet where the red salmon were running and we were wading through equal parts fish and water, picking the fish up by their tails, smacking their heads on the rocks and putting them in five gallon buckets to take back to the smoker.

Olympic National Park ~1986: Walking near the top of a ridge several miles above sol duc hot springs we passed a doe nursing her fawn about 20 feet off the trail. As we walked by, she watched us, but didn't move. Wow!

Friday Harbor WA: While scuba diving of the dock at Friday Harbor Laboratory, as I descended to the point one of my fins touched the bottom, a big 3 or 4 foot across skate wiggled out from underneath me foot.

And, oh so many more stories . . .

seth mcalister
(sethmcalister) - F

Locale: New Hampshire
Best Wildlife Encounter on 03/01/2013 13:33:03 MST Print View

I was fishing with my family in northern Maine a few years ago. We rounded the corner of the road only to see about four deer, two bucks and two does. As we began to round the corner, the two does, reared up and began fighting with the front legs.

We all hear about bucks fighting for their does, but I'd never heard, let alone, seen two does fighting. Espcially considering it looked just like a girl slap fight.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Best wildlife encounter on 03/01/2013 14:55:43 MST Print View

I can't remember her name, but it was quite a night. ;0)

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Best wildlife encounter on 03/01/2013 15:16:20 MST Print View

Tom, I was waiting since the first post for that one- I'm totally surprised it took 3 pages.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Best wildlife encounter on 03/01/2013 15:23:11 MST Print View

"Tom, I was waiting since the first post for that one- I'm totally surprised it took 3 pages."

It takes me a little longer to react as I age, Tad. I've got to admit, it was low hanging fruit. I'm surprised the Idester didn't beat me to the punch. ;0)

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: Re: Re: Best wildlife encounter on 03/01/2013 15:59:03 MST Print View

I've had 4 good ones.

The first being a bear waking me up smelling the back of my head (yes I yelled like a little girl).

I spent 2+ days at lake Sunrise at the camp before heading up to Whitney. While playing cards and eating some pistachios, I had a squirrel pulling back at my cards trying to get to the pistachios.

While coming down the switchbacks on Bubbs creek on the Rea Lakes Loop I came across a bear that was heading up. As there was nowhere for the bear to go but at least a mile back I didn't feel the need for chasing it down the hill. I just got out of the way and went on the other side of a bush. The bear must have been satisfied with my interpretation of getting out of the way. It walked by my so close i could have reached over and patted it on the head.

While on a 70 mile loop in the Sierras, a big 6 or so point deer ran right in front of me. I was using a 35 mm disposable camera and was down to my last picture. He stuck around and I tried to get a picture of him from bout 20' but he took off the last second.
I took a picture of the moon coming up over the ridge and thought that was that.
I was also sleeping at that location and starting setting up my tarp within a few minutes.
Low and behold, i look up and the deer is 6 feet away from me. Not only that, he stuck around for the next 15 minutes until I went a started a small fire. The whole time he was within 4-10 feet away from me.
I was so nervous about the huge rack on him. All he had to do was take one step and lower his horns and I was dead. I had an ice ax in my hand the whole time ready for the fight to the death.
The next day I noticed poo everywhere around and realized, he and the fawn I saw that morning slept just a few yards from where I had set up.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: Best wildlife encounter on 03/01/2013 17:51:58 MST Print View

Grayson Highlands "wild" ponies

And then there was the one that I did not see.

I was in the lead and Lazarus was following a short distance behind. We were nothbound and nearing Iron Mountain Shelter on the AT when I apparently frightened an unnoticed cub bear up a tree. As the cub was descending the tree Lazarus happened along and saw the cub making a bee line for a less crowded area. ;-)

Party On,


Bob Shaver
(rshaver) - F

Locale: West
A friendly pika on 03/05/2013 09:35:46 MST Print View

This little guy approached four of our group, including a dog, went around us off the trail, then crossed the trail behind us as we stood motionless.

Pika in Sawtooths of Idaho

HElinTexas C
(Helintexas) - MLife
Several cool sightings on 03/19/2013 20:31:20 MDT Print View

I went to Yellowstone in June this year. I had several cool sightings while backpacking.....

I had went to a ranger talk at Canyon campground the first night I was in the park. The talk was on animals of Yellowston...I was thrilled! Other than the megafauna they talked about some of the smaller ones. Notably, they mentioned that for a long time hardly had saw foxes in the park thanks to the coyotes. Since the reintroduction of the wolves, coyote pop. had decreased and they were starting to see some foxes. However, the ranger said that it was highly unusual to see them.

The next day, while hiking, I looked over and there was a beautiful fox sitting about 20 feet away. Needless to say, I was excited. I got some wonderful pictures of it. On that same walk, I came across a rocky section and noticed a pika. They are notoriously very hard to photograph. I usually only have seen them for brief seconds before they scurry away. This one stopped and looked at me for 30 seconds....I got a great pic.Pika

The next day was another long hike on a not often used trail. I came across 2 pronghorns. They stared at me and tensed up..but didn't run away. I then came across 2 different black on each side of the small mountain I was circling. That was a little tense---- had my spray at the ready--- but very cool.

When I was in Costa Rica on a long hike, I did get to see a variety of wild birds and several monkeys...which were quite cool.....but the most unusual was a sloth. Just hanging out in the tree. It was the only time I can ever remember seeing one period...certainly not ever in the wild and I can't remember ever seeing one at a zoo.