Hiking the Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge always reveals something new. On a cool, cloudy and almost complete overcast day, we happened upon a grove of hackberry trees. After following Barry through the tall grass we came up under the trees.
For some reason something made me look up to my right into the tree and staring back at me was a porcupine butt. I walked around the tree, but the thickness of the hackberry tree made it impossible to get a good photo of its face, but his butt came out clear.
I then noticed another mass in the tree we just walked by not more than 15 minutes earlier. Trekking back through tall grass I got up next to the tree and immediately I looked up into the eyes of another porcupine. It became a surreal experience knowing I was so close to this other porcupine. I stood there looking into his eyes and thanked God for the moment. I took my photographs, thanked the porcupine and walked away. Yes – I always thank the animals.
Most people either love or hate porcupines. My love of these mammals started when I was working on saving the historic Mallet Ranch Headquarters in Hockley County. Ginny and I came across a young porcupine in the oldest cottonwood tree, as well as a larger one. We observed the young one watching us with the fading day’s light in its eyes and was an experience we didn’t forget.
While camera lenses can bring wildlife up close and personal, being this close was poignant. You have to respect wildlife in order to get these experiences. If you don’t then not only will they suffer, but you ruin it for others to have that incredible opportunity.
Photograph – © Christena Stephens Photography