My Dad: Wildlife Whisperer

P1030366Bighorn Sheep

     If you missed the first vacation installment, this adventure took my parents and me into Montana and Canada—Banff National Park, Jasper National Park, Yoho National Park, Waterton Lakes National Park, Kootenay National Park and Glacier National Park. The majority of the time there was no Wi-Fi or cell phone coverage. So, we were on our own.
     My dad has taken gorgeous pictures over the years. He won several contests for his work, deservedly so. This requires going the extra mile to get the perfect shot.
     He will blaze his own trail when the official one does not give the best view of whatever he is attempting to capture.
     He will stand on the edge of a precipitous cliff with stones giving way. He will venture through brush without batting an eye. Rocky mountainsides pose little challenge.
     On one vacation, falling onto a prickly bush did not dissuade him from getting a picture of a bison. Poor Mom had to pull out all the thorns from his rear end on the side of the road.
     Good times, people. Good times!


     He will cross a busy road or even stand in the middle of one, trusting that cars will stop for him. And they do.
     What gets him stirred up most is wildlife.
     As we drove along, all of a sudden, cars pulled over. In a park, that usually means animals. I crept along until I saw the herd of bighorn sheep. As I pulled over to the side of the road to park, Dad’s seatbelt was already off, his door was open, and he was literally jumping out of our moving vehicle. He was not going to miss his opportunity for a picture.


     After I parked, I got out to take my own pictures. I stayed far, far away and used the zoom on my camera. Dad, on the other hand, was almost on top of them.
     This wasn’t anything new. Dad has always maintained that by singing or whistling to wild animals, they will know that he means no harm and just wants a picture.
     Sure, because wild animals love to be serenaded! It’s in all the guide books. Not!
     I yelled. He ignored me.
     By the grace of God, Dad survived that encounter to go through the exact same scenario with a herd of mountain goats.

P1030390Mountain Goats – Note that I am across the street taking the picture.

     Repeated lectures on safety fell on deaf ears. In the meantime, Mom and I prayed we did not encounter a bear.

P1030394That’s Dad on the left taking his picture, a few feet from the goats.

     Then there was the day we spotted the elk. Keeping in character with his action hero persona, he jumped out of the moving car and started across a large open field toward the elk. The elk moved toward the woods beyond the field. He followed them. The exact thing you are not supposed to do.

20160624_114203My shot of a female elk. See how far I am?

     Mom shouted from the safety of the car. I yelled from the field. To no avail.
     The worst part was that since he was so close, other people got closer too. Although the strangers listened to my shouted warnings more than Dad did. I succeeded in instilling common sense into most of them.
     At this point, we decided that Dad was doing this on purpose because he did not want to move to Florida. He must get the perfect picture, or die trying.

20160624_114252Dad getting his picture of the male elk.

     I stood in the field, at the ready, not exactly sure what I would do to distract the animal if it decided to charge.
     Then, it dawned on me! Obviously, I would sing a different song to the animal because Dad’s song didn’t work.
     As Dad walked back, a woman approached from the other side. Apparently, she suffered from the same delusional idea that wildlife was safe to approach.
     I heard him warn the woman, “Don’t go any closer than this or my wife and daughter will yell at you.”
     She laughed.
     At that moment, I realized the best solution would have been a tranquilizer.
     Not for the elk, for Mom and me.

Text and photos – Copyright © 2016 by Suzanne Purewal

3 thoughts on “My Dad: Wildlife Whisperer

  1. Mr Clar…tsk tsk tsk…shame on you! (Visualize me shaking my index finger at you!)
    We have seen lots of wildlife on our trips and always have a healthy respect for them. Usually we are the ones who have to tell the idiot tourists “please don’t get close to the very wild wildlife…whose sharp antlers or claws could seriously injure you…or since they weigh hundreds of pounds, they could crush you as they run you over protecting their young!”
    I didn’t realize one of the idiot tourists was you your very smart dad!
    I think he needs the best zoom lens produced….so he can get the picture from the safety zone.
    Now that I read this, the fact that you all came back in one piece is pretty amazing!

  2. Pingback: My Dad: Wildlife Whisperer –

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