Favorite Wildlife Watching moment.

ThunderNocked

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North Pole, Alaska
Great Thread.
My first is going to be when I was with my dad - back in 2000 he was helping work the Census as an odd side job and we were traveling into a remote part of Southern Oregon. As we climbed the pass a group of 7-8 Big Horn Sheep came from the valley below, rand won the highway and then up the hill. They fascinated me and I've wanted to hunt Sheep off and on since.
In line with that, last year did my first backpack wilderness hunt that had some fantastic experiences - including watch two young rams bounding up and down a hillside drainage that i couldn't begin to think to climb, lambs playing on an emerald green hill patch, a sow and cub grizzly playing in a creek and destroying hte lone evergreen tree for a 1/4 mile using it as a back scratch (I have that on video actually) and more.

My other one was seeing wolves while glassing - Made me go out and getting a spotting scope because the guys I were with had a cheap one that you could barely even make out that the animals below were wolves but i got to watch them work a valley bottom looking for a trail as they communicated silently and catch a scent, shift formations, and work through the valley and out of site.

Finally with my kids I've seen some Caribou up close (60 yards with my daughter) cows with calves. And I just saw this year as close as 40 yards a 46"-48" bull moose as we tried to make him 50" for an hour. My son is more excited about hunting now then ever before.
 

hank4elk

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SW NM
I was sitting on a ridge above a saddle elk hunting in the Pecos in a rockpile. A grouse appeared and sat down in the grass next to me,about 2 ft away.
Then a pair of blue birds landed on my rifle barrel resting across my lap,muzzle up. They sat there for a minute or two then flew off.
The grouse sat next to me making grouse noises and feeding for at least 15 minutes,til I stood up to walk back to camp. Then he flew down the direction I was going.... a weird bird morning
 

clharr

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Great thread!

Three moments stand out for me more than others.
I watched a doe fawn jump, kick and splash in a stock tank for 10-15 minutes once. It was also the moment I decided I needed a good camera.

Watched a bald eagle dip down and catch a bass in the little slew I was fishing in.

Me and a buddy were swimming in a big well fed concrete water tank that feeds into a smaller trough for cattle and wildlife. He points behind me a kinda screams; a snake came down out of a persimmon tree and was hanging just a couple of feet away from me drinking water.
 

Zootownelk

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A few stick out:

- First year elk hunting in western Wyoming I was sitting by some brush, and heard a commotion very close to my side. I slowly peeked around and a nice mule deer buck was raking a shrub about 7ft away on the other side of the shrub.

- Watching hundreds and hundreds of Mallards "tornado" down into our spread in a cornfield late in the season. We'd let flock after flock of 50-200 land as more and more flocks were incoming. It was insane. 8-man limit in about last 1/2 hour of shooting time.

- Watching two Grizzlies mate in Yellowstone.

- Fox coming out on ice to try and get a duck decoy.

- Shoulder season (Late August) cow elk hunt in MT. Saw about (guestimated) 800 elk spread out across a mountainside. They were probably 1/2 mile or so away. Looked liked ants crawling around an anthill. Could hear faint bugles. This was not a refuge. I doubt I'll ever see that amount of elk in one place again. Incredible.
 
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gouch

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SW Oregon
One time while deer hunting I sat on a log for a little rest. I noticed the grass there had pretty large blades and I remembered someone telling me that you can put a blade of grass between your thumbs and blow through it for a make shift predator call. So I tried it. After a few really sad noises I got it to sound pretty good. I threw the grass down and sat there for some time just daydreaming when all of a sudden I heard a dog growling behind me. I slowly turned my head and there was a coyote, not 10 feet away. Ears back, teeth bared and hackles up. I looked him in the eye and said "Hello." His ears went up, his eyes got wide and he did that thing coyotes do where their head and tail changed places and he was off like a shot.

I once cleared a fallen alder from the road with an axe. After I had everything cleared from the road I noticed a bobcat just sitting on his backside, in the middle of the road watching me like I was the best show in town. Must have thought that two legged critter was pretty stupid, working up a sweat like that when it was much easier to just walk over or under the fallen tree.
 

Henry22

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Indiana
Here’s my favorites:

-Last summer two buddies and I were trout fishing in Yellowstone NP trying to catch some dinner. We’d been at it for a few hours without much luck. We drove down to a hole my cousin told me to try but after many casts we were about to head back to camp. Then 3 otters come swimming down the river and proceed to catch a trout and squabble over it on the opposite bank.

-This spring I was turkey hunting on a ridge top and saw a good size buck for April pop over the ridge. He eventually walked 15 yards in front of me and then hit my boot tracks. He sniffed around and kept looking in every direction, definitely on edge. He then traced my steps all the way up to the sole of my boots. I sat frozen and he decided I was just part of the tree I was sitting against. The deer ate a few leaves from a bush next to me and milled within arms reach for a minute or two before moving on to the next bush.

- Fishing for walleye just before dark with my dad, brother, and cousin in Ontario and having a cow moose swim right by the boat is something I’ll never forget.
 

kansasdad

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Wichita
As a kid, we were on safari in the Serengeti, we had been motoring along a two track with no animals in sight. My dad stopped the VW microbus and turned off the engine. “Listen”, he said. Over the crest of the ridge we could hear the hooves and the constant grunting/groaning of the wildebeest migration and see the dust rising into the sky. Driving forward and cresting the horizon, down below us was the herd. Thunderous noise hit our ears. Stretching as far as you could see to the far off horizon were wildebeest, zebra and gazelles. Perhaps as many as 250,000 animals all on the feed bag while moving towards the next stop on their migration.

15ish years later, Mrs kansasdad and I were in the Maasai Mara game preserve (northern end of the Serengeti ecosystem) and we had left the lodge for a morning game drive. Driving along a two track we came upon a cheetah resting on top of a termite mound.

64A97001-4F4E-44C2-9E9C-D5282897996D.jpeg This cheetah seemed to be eying some nearby Thompsons gazelles, and like a good hunter it seemed to be surveying his options and planning his stalk route.

Dropping off the “glassing knob” the cheetah lowered its belly to the ground and began slithering it way down the gully to get the wind right. Just 30 yards into the stalk, the cheetah discovered a baby impala hiding in the grass. Two jumps and the cheetah had clamped down on the throat of the impala. We were able to see the whole thing go down.

E0895AD9-6651-444E-B274-96099E33E2A2.jpeg
D5ED0E2D-904E-4513-8329-61C755B0528E.jpeg

As the cheetah was dining, two jackels came along and finally ran the cheetah off of its kill.

4E87C3CF-181D-4EF5-8AA5-2F8BADE9CE59.jpeg
 

JTHOMP

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Louisiana
- During one of the rare times a pond almost completely freezes over in Louisiana, there must have been 100s of pouldeaus fighting for a 10yds area of water in the center that was still open. Probably 1/3 of them could fit into the black hole of packed pouldeaus at a time. The remaining 2/3s of them were in a state of slipping and falling as they tried to fight their way into the water hole. I could've watched that all day long and been entertained.

- On two occasions I've see a deer swim a great distance. One was a large lake in Arkansas. You could just see a brown spec of a head. The other was outside of Memphis working on a vessel salvage on the Mississippi. I know its normal for deer on on the river and islands to have to swim during floods. But in the midst of the salvage operations, this doe swam from high ground in Arkansas, right through barges and tugs, and went to an island on the TN side. We had to shut operations down because of the high water and 2 days later that island was underwater.

- While walking in the dark on a morning hunt I walked through a herd of pigs. Being public land , I followed the rules and despite them being pigs, I didn't shoot since it was outside of shooting hours. None of them cared about my presence. Looking back the only thing to compare it to was like watching a documentary of someone filming a trap house at night. Some of the little pigs were running round horse playing, others were in their own world rooting around eating what they could find, and through the middle of it a hot sow was being followed and bred by a couple different boars. Later that morning that group of pigs and I crossed paths again. Kept that sow from producing another litter of pigs.
 

Panda Bear

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I am not derailing the thread but answering a couple questions I have been asked

Size of caribou herd that migrate from Alaska to Canada ( Yukon and NWT ) is approx 200,000. Natural predators are bears, wolf, eagles and lynx.

Yes, besides the arctic wolf, the polar bear will also follow us and approach us out of curiosity, but we do not let the bears get closer than 100 feet or so, but do allow the wolfs to come up and sniff us, if we have no blood or meat on us and if we are on the ice without our dogs.

Back to the thread. Sometimes when ice skating or snow shoeing, bears and wolfs will follow us for a bit. I am a faster than my husband so it doesn't worry me ;)

I mentioned this in a different thread before. But being able to participate in a traditional whale hunt was special to me. But this would be hunting, not observing so doesn't really fit the theme of the thread

No one has mentioned losing their kill to a bear, which is a "viewing" moment, unless you also have a bear tag :)
 

44hunter45

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North Idaho
We were fishing the S. Fork of the Shoshone outside of the Park, maybe 15 miles down from Pahaska and as we were walking up the trail on the river to the next spot, an otter swam along next to us, chatting us up and playing. That otter was the cap on an amazing day of catching big fish on big flies.

Watching large herds of mule deer roam across the prairies and sage brush flats of central Wyoming.

Having a wolf pack parallel us for 2 miles as we walked a closed logging road in 2010. YOu'd catch them everyone once in a while as they leap frogged each other, giving us a side eye and staying about 100 yards away. Just two sets of hunters, sharing a landscape.

Around Lima, sage grouse hunting and a small herd of elk comes in to about 40 yards from us, oblivious until we topped a small hill. We watched them casually walk off. I think they knew that those shotguns weren't for them.

Watching Gristly bears forage on the south side of Lamar Valley through spotting scopes, and letting foriegn tourists see their first bears through my scope was cool as hell. They just went silent as they watched.

Being surrounded b Bison in Jellystone as they wallowed and grazed in a tiny little cut where they funneled close to the road. The noise was amazing and to see them that close without other tourons around made it an epic visit.

Glassing up Bighorn rams working a peak on the Rocky Mountain Front as we blew an opportunity on a bull elk as he crashed through the gulch below us. Nobody thought twice about it though.
This,

I was fly fishing the Touchet River under a bridge in Dayton, WA. (filming content for my soon to be released motivational series. ) I was catching nothing but little fingerlings. A bunch of 10-12 otter kits decided I was fun to watch and played around me for about an hour.

Watching a cinnamon bear about 50 yards away across a draw in N. Idaho deciding if I wanted to end my elk hunt by shooting a color phase bear. I was in the sitting shooting position.
The bear sat down and watched me. After what felt like an hour, but was probably just minutes, two cubs came out of the brush.

Our first up close and personal Bison bull in a dust wallow by the road in Lamar Valley.
 

Straight Arrow

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Gallatin Gateway, MT
One August we hiked the Nez Perce Creek - Mary Mountain - YNP Central Plateau - Hayden Valley trail from the Firehole River to the Yellowstone River, with beautiful noisy squawking sandhill cranes in every meadow along Nez Perce Creek. Bison were rutting everywhere throughout the Hayden Valley, with grunting, bellowing, and loud obnoxious mating moans echoing far and wide. Some of the bulls rolling in the dusty wallows were completely covered with a ghostly white sheen. Sights and sounds not to be forgotten. P1000899.JPG
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ZMT588

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Oct 1, 2019
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Mt
2 years ago my wife and I set up coyote calling. Let one call out and 4 coyotes pop out of no where just completely surrounding us less than 100 yards. We sit in awe that the call worked (first attempt at coyote hunting) just watching before any shooting. Next thing you know a young pup comes around the rock that we are sitting in front of to 10 feet. Watched us for about a minute as we sat still, then took off.

Second was last years spring bear hunting. Came over a ridge and glasses the bottom and found a lone cow elk. Bummer no bears. Decided to sit and watch the drainage for a bit. The elk stands up and heads into some trees. Put the binos on her and say "Thats a funny looking tail?" Hooves. Cow was in the middle of giving birth. Sat and watched for the rest of the night. Didnt get the calf dropping on video but I did see it with my eyes.

You can see the hooves sticking out and her pushing.

 

gouch

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SW Oregon
I am loving this thread way to much and it keeps bringing back great memories. When I was in the army I did my AIT at Fort Sill OK. When I didn't have duty on weekends I would spend all my time on the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. There were a lot of bison there and one day I came across a lone bull. I had to sneak up real close to get a photo with my old Kodak Instamatic camera, no telephoto on that baby. After I took the picture he turned his head to looked at me then got an erection that would put a horse to shame. I didn't like the direction that encounter seemed to be taking and beat cheeks outa there.
Bison 1 (3).jpg
 

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