I was going to start this story with the phrase...."A few years ago...", then I realized that it's been waaaay more than a few years ago, so I will begin in another manner.
My nephew, Skyler, is so much fun. When he was younger - before he was able to drive - we would hang out and do things together. One of the things that we did was explore the woods. I don't remember how old he was, but probably middle school age. The woods consist of 25 acres with a creek running through it. That September afternoon, it was warm in the sunshine, but chilly in the shade. As we walked through the woods, we talked about everything; school, family, friends, etc. I was hoping to see some real cool wildlife while we trudged through the tall grass that bordered the creek. And to our surprise, we came upon a large snake. He was taking advantage of the warm sun on that cool day. We surprised him as much as he did us. I was the leader through the tall grass. I nearly stepped on the poor snake. He was big for a snake in Indiana. Although I'm sure he wasn't as big as I remember him being. I DO know that his mouth was open wide and he was making a sound, not quite a hiss though. As I stood frozen in my step, I realized that Skyler is nearly on my back but yet didn't want to miss this snake, so he was leaning over my shoulder. A whisper escaped my lips, "Sky, go get a stick so that I can pick him up." Sky didn't want me to pick up the snake, so he refused to get a stick for me. We then gave the snake a wide berth and headed on to more wildlife.
We encountered many aquatic species that day too. As we waded through the half mile of creek that runs through the woods, we saw many fish of different sizes, crayfish, muskrat & LEECHES. To this farm girl, leeches aren't a big deal as long as I stopped every once in a while to scrape them off. But to my nephew, they elicited screams like I'd never heard from any of my nieces. It was so funny, that I would stop more often to remove the leeches from my feet and legs just to hear him scream about the ones that were attached to him. As we walked we talked about "stuff". Nothing too important or too serious. It was a day I'll never forget.
We encountered a small deer that was drinking from the creek and a blue heron. But, for me, the ultimate was finding a soft-shelled turtle sunning itself on the bank of the creek. It was big - about 14 inches from nose to tail - and really irritated that we were invading its space. As we headed back to the truck we were exiting the, previously mentioned, tall grass when we saw (not smelled) a skunk. It was about 50 feet away and walking toward us. From my short time working at a wildlife rehab center, I knew that skunks have terrible eyesight, but really good noses. I hollered, SKUNK!! We ran and didn't look back. Thank goodness we didn't go home with anything but great memories.