Friday, September 7, 2018

Unexpected Wildlife on the Mogollon Rim

On my mid-August trip to the Mogollon Rim, Arizona, I saw several sets of deer, including two nice little bucks, but didn't get pictures of them.  Also saw some osprey and other unidentified birds of prey, beautiful Albert's squirrels, and three small groups of elk:

But the most unexpected and exciting wildlife encounter was near dark on the empty dirt road going toward our campsite.  I'd been out looking for deer or elk, with no success, and was walking down the road, not a care in the world, listening to the crickets chirping and the beetles buzzing.  Then one buzzed really loud.  It took me a second to realize it wasn't buzzing, and it wasn't an insect.  That bzzzz was actually tttttttt.  There, right in front of me in the middle of the road was a black rattlesnake, sprawled out almost lazily but with his head raised and curled toward me.  Rattling furiously and probably hissing (too dark to see).  I backed up and let him be.  He stopped rattling.  After a minute or so, he started slithering away.  I tried to get a picture, but even using my flashlight as a spotlight, here's the sad result:

Yeah...there's nothing to see. 

I'm sure glad my little friend rattled.  I would have walked right past him...or on him..if he hadn't.  As you can imagine, I was a bit jumpy after the encounter, shining my flashlight on any remotely snake-like shadow in the near darkness.  I'd never seen a rattler at that high of elevation, though I know they exist, and members of my family and I have seen them with regularity in the somewhat lower Pinal mountains above Globe.

This is only the third rattlesnake that's rattled at me in my life.

Once I knew I was safe, it was pretty cool.  But the next day when I was bushwhacking through tall grasses, I carried a snake stick.  :)


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