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Porcupine
A large porcupine pauses on its haunches to curiously consider its portrait photographer.

A hunter comes across the most unusual things when they are exploring out-of-the-way places for game. Earlier this year I came upon the dismembered skeleton of a young whitetail buck deer, met a moaning moose and saw many a spectacular sunrise and sunset.

So it wasn't completely unexpected that I bumped into a prickly porcupine on a recent hunt. I was stealthily stalking down a narrow, wooded draw when I came upon the rotund rodent. It had it's back turned toward me, so I drew my camera quietly out and began shooting videos and snapping photos. Unfortunately, it was nearly dark. Yet even when my camera's flash fired, the porcupine seemed unfazed. I was just another porcupine paparazzi.

There aren't many animals that mess with a porcupine, not without getting a mouth or paw full of quills. So maybe that accounted for the porky's Buddha-like sense of calm at my approach. It would walk a ways, stop and sit up on its haunches to consider me. It's black face showing no emotion, not even annoyance at my intrusion.

When it would sit up, the porcupine's bristling backside would come into full view, an afro of painful proportions. Maybe that was the animal's intention, to give me a good view of what would be in store for me if I approached any closer.

Bored or worried, the porky finally scampered off into the juniper, quite quickly considering its size. I'll chalk the sighting up to one more unusual thing I've seen this season. After all, hunting is about more than just the hunt.

Contact Brett French, Gazette Outdoors editor, at french@billingsgazette.com or at 657-1387.

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