Thursday, September 13, 2012

Walking With a Porcupine

Earlier this summer, I was visiting Toft Point Natural Area, near Bailey's Harbor in Door County, Wisconsin. Enjoying the brilliant early June day, I hiked just off Lake Michigan's shoreline on a wooded trail well-padded with many years' worth of of pine needles.  At times, the trees along the trail opened up, inviting me to the water's edge; then I'd retreat back to the cool, green shade. 267


Making my way toward land's end, I moved silently along the trail, my footsteps almost completely muffled by the soft path beneath.


I stopped and raised my binoculars to look at a Bald Eagle perched on a high branch on the tip of Toft's Point. After a couple minutes straining to locate its nest, I lowered my binoculars, and there it was. The porcupine stood not 10 feet ahead on the trail in front of me. Apparently, I was using its trail. And it was as surprised as I was.


Okay, I admit, the second my brain registered P-O-R-C-U-P-I-N-E, I gave an involuntary whoop, did a quick sidestep, and turned and ran few yards back down the trail. Then I turned to see the spiky animal, unimpressed by my quirky dance, obligingly move off and give this temperamental tourist the right-of-way. Nice.


Yes, it gave me the well-worn path to use, while it picked through brush and over fallen limbs. I was now headed back the same direction, and I kept pace with the porcupine, who seemed to have very little use for me. It steadily continued on its way, despite the inconvenience of the detour.



Goodbye, friend Porcupine. Thanks for sharing your road, and your beautiful corner of the planet.


Nina Cheney
Eagle Optics Staff
Binoculars: Bring them. See what they bring you.


  1. I loved your story! You see - I also went for a walk with a porcupine.I was on the porch of our cabin in New Hampshire, when a porcupine sat up on its haunches and checked me out. I went to the door, and down the steps as we continued to look at each other. When I stood beside it, it started down the path through the woods.I walked with it. When I lagged behind, not wanting to scare it, it stopped and looked at me until I caught up. It also stopped occasionally to browse on plants. We walked until I finally decided to return to the porch.I guess when you have all those quills, there's no need to be shy!

  2. Hi Nina,

    We had similar experiences at Toft Point during May's Festival of Nature, although we had to travel over by the lighthouse to find our porcupine. He was similarly annoyed by our presence, But unconcerned. Your photos brought back nice memories.


  3. Thanks, Terry! In was in the same area last week near the Cana Island Lighthouse, I had to stop the car for one crossing the road. Porcupines must love that habitat!


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