Throughout my life, I’ve had amazing encounters with wildlife, and I want to share some of those with you today.

I was deer hunting on my woodlot and sitting on the ground with my back up against a hemlock tree, when I saw an ermine running back and forth about 50 yards from me. At that time of year, ermine are white and beautiful. That ermine, still running back and forth, got closer and closer to me.

When it got about 10 yards away, the ermine turned and ran right at me, running up my leg and stopping on my chest. Ermine have very sharp teeth and if it had bit me in the neck I probably would have died. It happened so quick all I could do was turn my head and stare at it.

Thankfully it quickly decided that I was not a tree and it leaped off me and ran away. That is an encounter I have never forgotten!

Running a bit late for a selectmen’s meeting years ago, even though it was dark, I dashed down the stairs into my workshop without turning on the light. Approaching the door to the garage, I felt our cat move across my feet and reached down to pet him. Bad mistake.

The skunk blasted me right in the face, and I staggered and started running back upstairs, shedding my stinking clothing along the way before jumping into the shower. My wife Linda later collected the clothing and threw it away.

Eventually I got to the selectmen’s meeting. No one sat near me. And it took three days to get rid of that awful smell. Another encounter I have never forgotten!

I was fishing one evening in our boat at camp and casting my fly from the back of the boat when a bat flew up and picked my fly right out of the air, hooking itself. I pulled back on the line and the bat dropped into the water.

I carefully reeled it in and lifted it into the boat, and was pleased that the bat did not move while I carefully removed the hook, after which the bat took off. It was certainly my most unusual catch —although one other time I caught a duck.

My favorite moose story involves my now-6-year-old granddaughter Ada, who was 3 at the time. Ada had never seen a moose, and when one appeared in our small pond down the hill in front of our camp, another camp owner ran up the hill to tell us.

We all ran down to see the moose, and the other camp owner asked Ada, “Is that a horse?” And Ada shouted, “No, that’s a moose!”

While I have seen bears all over Maine, my most amazing and entertaining encounters were at camp. Linda and I were walking with our kids up the driveway to camp when we saw a bear coming down the driveway in our direction. The bear spotted us and moved into the woods and kept walking in our direction.

We actually heard the bear walk by us in the woods and when he got about 30 yards beyond us, he came back into the road and continued on.

We often saw bears on the lawn at camp, but one of my favorite stories is the time we spotted a bear swimming across the lake in our direction with a cub on its back and another cub swimming behind it.

We stood on one side of a small stream that flows into the lake and the bear and it’s cubs came ashore on the other side of the stream only about 15 feet from us. The bear and cubs took a look at us and then they wandered into the bushes, apparently in no hurry.

That was quite a sight for us — and especially for our kids.

George Smith can be reached at 34 Blake Hill Road, Mount Vernon 04352, or [email protected] Read more of Smith’s writings at www.georgesmithmaine.com.


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