Wednesday, February 23, 2011


American Marten
 I was reading a good post a couple of weeks ago on The Average Joe Fisherman about an encounter he had with a beaver.  You should check out his blog when you get a chance, it is very well written and entertaining.  That story got me thinking about previous encounters I have had with wildlife during various hiking, camping and fishing trips.  During one hike a few years ago a biker farther along the trail spooked a woodchuck into running full steam back in my direction.  Apparently it was so scared it didn't even notice me and ran literally between my legs and kept going without looking back.  Three or four years ago I was camping and hiking with a friend in the Adirondacks when I had an encounter that especially stands out in my memory.  We were staying at Heart Lake in the high peaks region of the Adirondacks.  I have had some beautiful and scary encounters at this particular camp ground in the past.  As an example, one morning, in the span of 20 minutes I woke to he beautiful sounds of a wild loon on the lake behind me to staring face to face with a large black bear while holding my breakfast of pepperoni and crackers in my hand.  Both firsts for me.  But I digress....The moment I'm especially fond of was an encounter I had with an American marten (a large member of the weasel family).  While my friend signed the trail register, I waited about 20 yards up the trail.  I was looking off into the woods when I noticed a cat-sized animal bounding down a log headed directly for me.  At first I didn't know what it was until it stopped three feet in front of me.  I stood still for what seemed a long time and we just stared at each other.  It had the blackest eyes I have ever seen.  It seems weird, but there seemed to be a connection between two thinking individuals.  A moment later the spell was broken when my friend called to me to ask what I was looking at.  At that moment the marten realized there was somewhere else it needed to be and took off, literally running over my big toe, and bounding back off into the woods.  I stood there speechless.  All I could think was.....That was sooo cool!  Since then I have had a few other moments here and there with other wildlife, mostly deer and have even watched Bella stalk a cotton tail rabbit with amusement.  And I still get great satisfaction when I connect with a small brookie from a mountain stream, but nothing compares with that moment with the marten in the Adirondacks.  It's an encounter I still marvel at.


  1. As a field biologist, I've had my fair share of memorable wildlife encounters. I haven't spent enough time in the north woods to have seen a marten. That's a very cool critter. One of my most memorable wildlife encounters was with a one eyed snapping turtle that I found while searching for other turtle species in the Little Pigeon River in east TN. What was so cool to me is that I found this same turtle 3 times just passively searching (no trapping or radio telemetry) the same section of river over the course of two summers. In between encounters the river experienced serious flooding that damaged bridges and flooded homes, but he was still in his section of the river. He was a tough old man... no flood could move him from his home water. I was very impressed to find him again post deluge. I guess I felt like I shared a connection with that animal because our paths crossed more than once.

  2. Another part of fly fishing. Those wonderful critters that will join us. I'm alway's facinated by the chipmonks that play hide and seek with you.

    Nice photo of Mr. Marten

  3. Jay, Where I usually fish there is a rather large snapping turtle (it's shell is about 2' in diameter) I prefer not to have encounters with. It usually waits in ambush and then lunges at my line when I have a fish on the other end. He's come real close a few times to snatching my fish. Some of his pond neighbors, the largemouth bass have been more successful at that.

    Brk Trt, I wish I could claim credit for the photo. When I came across the marten I didn't dare reach for my camera. I figured it would spook him. This is one of the few pictures I have posted that I didn't take the photo.