Woodland Surprises

By Dave Hanks

I come around a forest bend and much to my surprise

There before me is a face – I look into its eyes

My pulse rate and blood pressure – So very quickly they do rise!

Is this thing friendly? Or is this my demise?

Backing into cover, a move I feel is wise

Perhaps the surrounding foliage will provide adequate disguise

To stay at an adequate distance, is something I’d advise!

Surprises can be abundant when you are out in our wild lands. I’ve been growled at by a Black Bear that was behind a bush, chased by a bull Elephant Seal, startled by a Western Diamond-Back Rattlesnake rattling by my foot, and charged by a cow Moose - I was lucky that our truck was close at hand. Once in Canada, a bull Moose was foraging in a roadside bog. He seemed unbothered as long as I was on the road. I took two steps down into the bog, and up came his head. He was on the alert – so I stepped back up on the road and serenity returned. A cow Moose can be one of the most aggressive animals you might encounter, especially if she has a calf.

Surprises can be close to home also: like the Moose at rest in my nephew’s back yard, or the occasional moose, coyote, or fox seen in neighboring agriculture fields. Surprises can also be quiet ones – like the Great Gray Owl we came upon, so quietly resting in a snag – photographer’s cameras all around the tree snapping away. Many moments of silent satisfaction were gained at that event.

Animals are very defensive of their individual distance, and for safety sake, you should respect their space. They will usually give you a warning if you are violating this distance. It could be vocal, but more often is through body language. It is wise to always be alert to those signs.

(A big cow Moose – very formidable)