Grey Ghost's Link
We all know that animals can read a human's body language. For example, horses can sense when their riders are anxious, or afraid. Many of us see it almost daily with wildlife around our places. Deer and turkeys around my place rarely pay any attention to me, as long as I do the same. But, as soon as I stop whatever I'm doing to stare at them, they suddenly become aware of me and alerted. But my question goes beyond animals simply reading human body language. Do you think the concept of an animal "whisperer" truly exists?
I ask because for some reason wild foxes seem to have little or no fear of me. The first time I experienced it, I was about 2 miles deep in the wilderness elk hunting. I spotted a red fox on the game trail ahead of me. I assumed he'd spook as soon as he saw me, but instead he just sat there as I approached. As I walked by, he began following me like a dog right on my heels. He followed me for probably about 500 yards before he decided to go on his way. I'll admit, the thought that he could be rabid and might attack without provocation entered my mind, but he showed no signs of aggression whatsoever.
Since then, I've had 2 foxes that lived behind our condo display the same behavior. The latest one is this little silver fox in my video that I took last Sunday (see link). Yes, I know I shouldn't feed him, but he loves baloney, and, well, I just think is damn cool that I'm the only human he'll get close to. It's not like I conditioned him to food, either. He's showed no fear of me from the first day I saw him. Yet, as soon as he sees anyone else nearby, he spooks.
So, do any of you think you have some sort of weird connection with a certain species of wild animal? If so, I'd love to hear your stories, and/or thoughts.
As for deer, once you figure out how they react when you're on the ground with them, will determine how good you can get at stalking. That being said, their behavior will vary from season to season, and property to property.
Mutual connection with wild animals in general…no. With individual wild animals based on interactions over time…yes.
Ironically, we had a red fox hang around us elk hunting this year for about 30 minutes. I chalk it up to a juvenile who didn’t know any better.
So I hate to rain on your parade but I don't think your interaction with foxes without fear of humans are particularly rare. All of the interactions I describe were away from towns/civilization.
This spring I was on the tundra and shot some birds. A couple hundred yards off I noticed this cross fox. Turns out they had a den right there. When it first noticed me it bolted. The wind was howling and it was downwind. I knew it would catch scent of my dead birds. Over the course of the next half hour it worked it's way closer and would run every time it spotted me, but then turn around and come closer again due to the smell of an easy meal. I decided to sit down and see how close it got and pick up my camera. I was pleasantly surprised to watch it work to 20 yards and grab a bird before I chased it off. I thought it was funny. Well it turned out to be a real PIA because the thing got so ballsy that I couldn't get him away. I also couldn't carry 9 birds for a half mile back to the quad in one shot with a shotgun and camera gear. Turns out as soon as I separated myself by 8 yards from my birds he's be in there like a dirty shirt. I had to leapfrog my birds in two batches in 8 yard increments all the way back to the machine lol. Very quickly I became the slower polar bear as he worked his way in for a meal. They recognize top end predators, they recognize that we are slow, and they watch for opportunities.
On Saturdays my dad would take me to the fur post to turn in my furs and that is where I met him. He smelled the skunk on me one day and said he'd show me how to take care of skunks without getting sprayed. Needless to say, it didn't work for me.
Watching him do it was something I'll never forget. I do think some people can just connect with certain species or animals.
One thing that made me think they were extremely wary of humans was an article I read many years ago in one of the major outdoor magazines. The author was an accomplished traditional hunter and a student of Native American cultures. He claimed that a common tradition in many tribes was young would-be hunters had to go out in the woods and physically touch their quarry before being allowed to hunt and kill them. So, he decided to see how many animals he could actually touch in the wild, himself.
He was already a knowledgable woodsman, and good at reading sign, trails, etc... so many of his small game "touches" were by sitting and waiting on known trails. He talked about sitting for hours, with an arm draped over a trail like a tree limb, without moving a muscle. For some big game animals he developed a method of super slow motion stalking while in complete view of the animal. He said the animals wouldn't pick up on the motion, if he went slow enough. We're talking taking 2-3 minutes to complete one step. Try it some time, it ain't easy.
Anyway, he claimed he was successful at touching almost every lower 48 animal that Indians typically hunted, then he ranked them by difficulty to touch. I don't remember all the rankings, but he claimed the fox was the most difficult. Of course, who knows if any of his story was the truth, but he was convincing to this young up and coming bow hunter.
So, I guess I don't have any special fox whispering gift. Oh well, it's still pretty damn cool to have one eat from your hands, then lick your fingers, IMO.
Have a great evening every one.
Now, I would definitely not recommend that with the moose or bears in Steamboat....
I have snuck in close enough to touch mule deer, elk, and whitetails on a number of occasions. No whispering!
Have had several instances where I stalked in too close to bedded mule deer bucks to get a shot with my bow when they stood up. Pretty sure I would have been better off with a spear...
It's funny, but some of those encounters are more memorable than game I've killed at further distances.
That's what bow hunting is all about, IMO. Not launching 100 yard shots, even if you are capable of that shot.
GG - Absolutely! Those super close encounters make life worth living! Doesn’t get any better than getting to petting distance after putting out the effort on a long stalk, on the animal’s home turf…
Anyways, no matter where I go, I see them. And, they are always close. Often under 15 yards. I’ve never tried to hang out and be buds with one. But, I’m pretty certain I could find one in a metro park.
Hunting up North at a buddy’s place, I left him out in the woods to hike back to his cabin. He admonished me to “walk normal” down his quarter mile plus driveway because there were deer frequenting the area. I shrugged at the end of his driveway and started sauntering down the driveway, whistling as I walked. At about the halfway point, I saw a young buck looking at me from some trees just off the side of the driveway. I kept whistling and walking and at about fifteen yards, I hesitated and shot him. He was no monster. It wasn’t an epic hunt, but it cracked me up and still does.
Sometimes I wonder if I should just whistle as I stomp to my stand like a logger or something, maybe a surveyor or timber cruiser, but I still try to slip in quietly in the dark. Until I almost step on a grouse.