I sometimes wonder what it says about me, that when I see this-
I do not turn my own tail and head the other direction. Instead, if it is not already in my hand, I grab my camera and set off in pursuit. Judging from my own case, there is a short circuit within a photographer’s brain, and the danger and self-preservation sections are bypassed. There are so many possible pictures out there, yet I am always convinced that by dangling from the safety railing that is meant to keep me out, by scaling things I shouldn’t unencumbered (yet attempt with thirty to forty pounds of camera gear strapped to various points of my body), by entering the cow pasture with the serious looking bull with large horns, weighing in at well over ten times my own weight, or, in this case following around a wild skunk that is not used to the presence of humans, that I can get a better photograph… And sometimes I’m right… and sometimes, not so much so.
First off the Mandatory Disclaimer: I do not recommend that anyone try to photograph a wild skunk that is spotted out and about in the day time. Skunks are nocturnal, and if you see one during daylight hours, (especially around midday like this one) it is usually a bad sign, as it often means there is something wrong with the skunk… fun stuff like rabies or distemper. Also skunks can spray, and that spray, especially if it is a direct hit, can cause all sorts of bad reactions like blindness, vomiting, burning sensations, and not to mention you, your clothes, and all your gear will be coated in a stench that takes a lot of time (days or weeks) and effort to remove. That said, I will keep photographing skunks when the opportunity permits.
There are a couple of things going for the wildlife photographer that tries to photograph a skunk-
- They don’t like to spray. They can, and they will, but they prefer not to.
- They have poor eyesight, especially during the day. This means you can be standing fairly closely, and they won’t necessarily see you.
- They are pretty confident in their defenses, so they won’t bolt away like some other animals will
- If you find one to take photographs of, chances are you won’t be competing with other people also trying for pictures.
This particular skunk seemed healthy, in spite of the fact that it was out foraging during the day (the act of foraging actually helped it seem healthier, as unhealthy animals aren’t as interested in food). It wasn’t too easy photographing this skunk however. The grass was mostly taller than it was, so it was very difficult to ever see, much less photograph, its face. It found a small animal to eat for instance- I could hear it crunching and munching away from where I was several paces away, but I have no idea what the creature that it ate was… I could never see it for the long grass. I was mostly limited to photos of the tail and the back, which can be fun for a photograph or two, but get pretty old after a while… which means that while I got a few decent shots in, next time I see a skunk wandering around out there, I’ll foolishly grab my camera once more in the hopes of even better shots.