Steve stopped in his tracks. “Get your camera ready, Rob.” And so I did because he knows a photo op. A big, round, slow and pokey, not-in-a-hurry-to-get-anywhere quill pig waddled down the side of the road. It took me 15 or 20 seconds of running to catch up close enough to take a few pictures but by the time I brought the camera up, the porcupine left the road and headed into the woods. I wanted great photos but how bad did I want it?
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Not bad enough. Goodbye porcupine, maybe next time.

Porcupines have a poor sense of vision. They can see clearly for only about ten feet. They’re fast when they run…briefly. They’re a little slow to react when a vehicle is coming at them at high speed, especially at night when they’re already poor vision is further compromised by blinding headlights.

Can porcupines shoot quills at me?

porcupine, damage, tree, girdle treesGrowing up, the answer was yes. We knew we couldn’t get closer than seven feet from a porcupine because it could shoot its 30,000+ quills up to six feet. Not that we were in the habit of getting close but we knew we were to be very careful.They don’t really shoot quills. Imagine a porcupine all bristled up, the sound of “pew pew pew pew pew” in the air as the quills flew through the air at their intended target. That’d be a sight. They’re shy creatures with poor vision and a lack of sustained high speed. They need their quills. Speaking of quills, did you know babies have soft quills at birth? It takes a few days for them to harden.

Back when I was a kid a porcupine had a bounty on its back. I don’t remember what they were worth but every porcupine shot and claimed was worth a bit of money. They twigs, buds, fruit, and if they stuck with they’d be okay but they eat bark and cambium. If they girdle the tree (clear bark and cambium all the way around) it will die.

I wasn’t willing to climb over logs and down a steep bank to get photos. He’s still ambling around the homestead, sometimes walking in front of a game camera, other times leaving his tracks in the mud.
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