I love to watch baseball on TV. Most evenings there will be a baseball game burning away on the flatscreen even amongst the groans from some of the family. You just never know what is going to happen. It’s a great game.
The White Sox announcer, Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, often will comment after a peculiar play or an at-bat and say something like, “In five decades in this game, I have never seen that.” He always goes on how it is such a wonderful game because things happen that you never could have predicted. You always have the chance to see something for the first time. The outdoors is very much the same way.
Just before I sat down to write this article I was out fishing. I was so fortunate to take a friend out and teach her about using artificial lures and how to use them. As we were first practicing our drop-shot technique, I noticed something scurrying along the shoreline.
As it turns out, it was a beautiful red fox. It was working its way down a hill and to the shallow water under a willow tree. As it reached the water’s edge, it delicately dipped its head down and lapped up the cool liquid just like a dog. The sunlight bounced off its brilliant fur and made for such a stark contrast to the green vegetation surrounding him.
Seeing a fox isn’t all that unique, but the next 10 minutes were. That’s right. We watched this critter for a long time. Most of the foxes I have watched usually scamper off quickly once they notice you. They are quite good at staying out of sight. Not this guy. He looked at us like we were the oddballs.
We were fishing just 20 or so yards away and he could care less we were there. Once his belly was full of water, he took a few steps into the reeds, relieved his call of nature, and then marched another few feet down the shoreline. Once he was in the reeds, all we could see was his head and perfect ears standing at full alert.
For the next few minutes we could tell that he was chomping on something. Both my partner and I couldn’t tell what it was. We thought maybe a mouse or rabbit that it had caught earlier. Or was he eating grass like dogs sometimes do? Who knows? What we do know is that this fox sat there, chewing away, and was watching us fish.
We seemed to be as much of an interesting sight to him as he was to us. I would make a cast, he would watch. We’d reel in and he would watch. We would continue to maneuver the boat down the shore and he would watch. I never had seen anything like it.
The other strange thing we noticed about this fox is that it was quite big. No, it wasn’t the size of a coyote, but for a fox, this was a mighty fine one. It had a big bushy tail, gorgeous black boots and that pointy nose that always seems to get them into trouble. All of these features were attached to a mighty large frame.
Eventually, the fox turned and vanished into the reeds permanently. By the way it was acting I would guess that its den was somewhere real close. He clearly was comfortable with the area and meandered through it like he owned the place.
To make things more interesting, this whole event took place between two houses. Granted, the lots were big and the yards had nice wooded areas and thick foliage between them, but rambunctious humans were close by and this guy just didn’t care.
The rest of the day I thought about that fox. He was a magnificent creature just going about his day, but I never would have seen him if I didn’t take the time to go fishing with a friend. That’s what is so great about spending time outdoors. You most likely will see something that you never have experienced before. I almost could hear a little variation of Harrelson in my head, “After nearly five decades in the outdoors, I have never seen that.”