Encounters with a Fisher

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I’ve been spending a lot of time sitting alone in the woods this fall. Watching and observing wildlife, experiencing nature through the change of the seasons and pondering the next steps for Earth Tracks. It has felt really good to spend this much-needed time. To sit quietly, refocus and saturate myself in the present moment while also looking ahead to the future. It reminds me of all the synchronicities in my life that have brought me to this place where I am at today. I am truly grateful for all of these things.
After roughly 4 hours spent sitting since before dawn, something caught my eye to the north of me on the edge of the swamp. The ducks had been ‘alarming’ for a little while and I wondered what had been causing this? Then came the brown mustelid (with grey highlights on the face and shoulders) bounding towards me. It was the elusive Fisher! I had never seen one of these animals in Grey county before, but have heard that they have been expanding their range south in previous years from the Bruce peninsula. At about 75 feet he turned to the west and began to disappear into a grove eastern hemlock. At this point I began making an ‘injured’ rabbit call and he instantly stopped and turned in my direction, his interest piqued. He then started to walk and take slow bounds towards the cause of this enticing sound, stopping frequently to look and listen to what may have been a potential meal. I was able to ‘draw’ him in to within 15 or so feet of me and have a good look at this beautiful animal. By his large size I could tell that he was a male as all members of the weasel family are sexually dimorphic. Meaning one gender is quite larger than the other. In the case of the mustelides, the males are always bigger than the females.
He could not see me through the naturally constructed ground blind that I had built. After about 30 seconds, he turned and headed towards the east — deeper into the forest. As he passed an elder hemlock tree he slowed down slightly to smell the porcupine scat that was lying near its base. I wondered if he knew that the porcupine was up in that very tree at the time?
I was extremely thankful for this amazing encounter with Martes pennanti and hope that our trails will cross again.

Spending time alone in nature nourishes my entire being and these experiences help to strengthen my connection to the natural world. The lessons continue to unfold and open up a world to me that is full of wonder, joy and thankfulness to be alive.
In Light
*“Trail Cam Pic by Dan Gardoqui of White Pine Programs – with whom I run our annual Winter Wildlife Tracking trip with in Algonquin Park.”
  • Johanna

    Amazing story, Alexis. Your relationship with nature is truly inspiring!! Thanks for sharing!

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