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Wildlife Encounters

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Hiking in the back country of our national forests, provides a person with unique opportunities to view wildlife. It is always a treat to view the animals that call these places home, but a word of caution is advised. My weapon of choice is Counter Assault Bear Spray Deterrent. Below is a representative photo of an encounter I had with the animal listed. Please understand, I share only to inspire, not to educate.

Pine Squirrel
also called the Douglas Squirrel

I see these quite frequently in my hiking in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. This particular photo was taken on the Tomlike Mountain hike.

Grey Squirrel

These little creatures are all over the Hood. I've seen them on many hikes, including the hike to Bald Butte while climbing Oak Ridge.

Golden Mantle Squirrel

These fun little fellas are everywhere. They are easily confused with their small cousins, the chipmunk.

The obvious visual difference, are the stripes. On the squirrel they do not go all the way to the eye. On the chipmunk they do.


These fun little fellas are everywhere. They are easily confused with their cousins, the golden mantle squirrel.

Notice the lines come all the way to their eye.


This is one of the more common critters in the high country, such as the Goat Rocks Wilderness. They are quickly identified by the shrill whistle.

Often you get to hear them without getting to see them. Good luck!


These little fellas are bit more rare, at least you are less likely to see them. However, you may hear them before you see them. They give a shrill whistle, not that much unlike the much larger cousin the marmot.


Probably a cottontail.

Black Bear

Now, here is a creature that you might not want to meet in the wilds. I have encountered many in my years of hiking, but I never get comfortable with coming face to face with these unpredictable animals.

Nevertheless, they are awesome to see in the wild. I carry the above mentioned bear spray, just in case.

For more about bear encounters, click here.


In all my years of hiking, backpacking, and camping, I have only had a close encounter with a bobcat once. And it was a wonderful privilege to watch this outstanding creature in the wild.

They are not very likely to let you get very close, so the chances are you will not get a photo of one in the real wilderness.


I really like the coyote. I know some of you may not, but I have always enjoyed my encounters with this dog-like creatures of the wild. I especially enjoy hearing them call to each other.

The coyote is becoming more and more an urban animal, but there are plenty out there in the wild. I see most of them in the more open eastern parts of the Hood.


If you live to tell about it, meeting a cougar in the wild is truly one of the most frightening events of your life. I speak from experience. Nevertheless, even though it is a riveting story, the fact I survived makes the story in some way an extremely valuable memory.

A stare down on a trail, with no protection, and no where to go, can give you serious thought to your mortality. Having survived gives you a sense of privilege.

For more about cougar encounters, click here.


As often as I see deer on my adventures, I rarely get a presentable photo of one. They are always distant, and running, and never seem to pose.

I have encountered 10 times as many elk, and 5 times as many mountain goats. Yet, I never tire of seeing these precious animals out in the wild.


Elk are among the largest animals in the wilderness of the Hood. Most people have seen many elk in their lives, but to encounter them in the wild is interesting, to say the least.

To hear them bugle is exciting, but to hear them tearing through the forest, and not being sure if you are about to be trampled.... well, that is another thing.


Mountain Goats are among my very favorite animals to see and photograph in the wild. I have had the joy of seeing hundreds of them over the years, but none in the Gifford Pinchot NF. Although, I did see one of these magnificent creatures standing along the freeway just east of The Dalles. I think he was looking to hitch a ride north. And, no, it wasn't a Big Horn Sheep.

Nevertheless, I want to include animals that you can see here in the northwest. Goats are common in the wilderness named after them: The Goat Rock Wilderness in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in the south-central Washington Cascades.

Big Horn Sheep

Big Horn Sheep are another animal that I've never seen in the Hood, but most of us have seen them here in Oregon.

Nevertheless, I want to include animals that you can see here in the northwest. Big Horn Sheep are more common in the eastern highlands of Oregon.

Gopher snake

Because of its size and unusual markings, many confuse the gopher snake with the rattlesnake. Unlike their cousins, the gopher snake is not dangerous.

Nevertheless, I would keep your pets away from them, so as not to harm them.


Here is a creature most people never want to encounter anywhere... in the wild or otherwise. Yet, in certain areas of the Hood, they are at home.

You might encounter this slithery fella on the eastern side of the Hood, so be cautious and use good sense.

Photos either Northwest Hiker or Courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service