My 5 Favorite and 5 Most Disappointing Wildlife Destinations

I fantasize about living during the Pleistocene  because I would love to live in a world where I could open my front door and see a mammoth or saber-tooth cat, not just occasionally but often.  The thought of being surrounded by wilderness never fails to relax me. True wilderness no longer exists on earth, but there are still a few places in the world where a man can see an abundance of large wild animals. However, they are far away, and I despise traveling.  I would like to see Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada and observe wolves hunting bison, but it would take a week just to drive there from my house, and I refuse to fly on an airline until they stop ordering perverts to feel up all the passengers before they’re allowed on the aircraft.  So that trip will never happen for me.  I have made the effort to see regional wildlife attractions.  Here’s a list of my favorite and my most disappointing wildlife attractions.

Favorites

1. Wakulla Springs, Florida–This is the only location where I’ve ever seen manatees.  I was also thrilled to see bird species I’d previously known only from books such as white ibis, yellow crowned night herons, wood ducks, and prothonotory warblers.  There are lots of turtles, alligators, and deer here, and the crystal clear waters reveal many types of fish–schools of mullet, black and white sunfish, and gar.

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The boat ride at Wakulla Springs made the 7 hour drive from my house worth the trouble.

2. Harbor Island, South Carolina–My parents used to own condos here when the island was first being developed by real estate companies.  There were noisy heron and egret colonies on the island, and alligators swam in the brackish lagoons beneath the rookeries.  Pelicans and black skimmers flew over the shallow ocean water, while sandpipers and sea gulls scurried ahead of human beachcombers.  Sharks and dolphins hunted in the surf.  The species of sharks I saw hunting were probably either Atlantic sharp-nosed or sand, but I did once see a dead blue shark washed up on shore.  Loggerhead sea turtles buried their eggs in the sand.  I never saw a live individual, but did come across a dead specimen.  I witnessed large tarpon spawning in the shallow water.  I caught mullet with a cast net and captured blue crabs in traps.  A large colony of cottontail rabbits lived on this bushy island with few trees.  The adjacent more heavily wooded Hunting Island carries lots of deer and raccoon.

3. Berry College Campus, Georgia–Bald eagles nest here, and I have also seen a peregrine falcon and a swan on campus.  But deer are the most impressive attraction.  Great herds of does take refuge on campus during hunting season.  They must know it’s a safe zone–the campus is adjacent to the largest wildlife management area in the state of Georgia.  Flocks of turkeys abound here too.

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Berry College is the only place I’ve ever seen a swan.  Don’t know whether it’s a natural occurrence or an introduction, but swans were widespread in North America during the Pleistocene.

4. Land Between the Lakes, Kentucky–We drove by a herd of bison and saw turkeys and cattle egrets as well.  Deer roam throughout this vast forest of oaks, hickories, and black walnut, but on the day I visited it was hot and I didn’t get to see the elk that must have been hiding in the deep shade.

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Up close with a herd of bison at Land between the Lakes.

5. Congaree National Park, South Carolina–I’ve been here twice.  I took a 5 hour hike on my first visit.  Deer and a milk snake crossed my path, and I must have ducked under 10,000 spider webs.  Barred owls hoot during the day and pileated woodpeckers are common in the park.  The splendor of the spectacular old growth trees makes a visit here worth the trip.

Most Disappointing

5. Mount Mitchell, North Carolina–The brochure claims red squirrels and black bears live on the mountain.  I don’t believe it.  I saw not a single mammal and just a couple songbirds.  The forest here is dying.

4. Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina–This is a busy road through a boring stretch of woods. I saw 1 woodchuck.  I can’t believe this crap is part of the National Park Service.  It totally sucks!

3. Oaky Woods Wildlife Management Area, Georgia–This holds the last population of black bears in the entire piedmont region of southeastern North America.  Hunters stopped a planned development, so they could continue to enjoy killing the bears, though this population is probably way too low to support sustainable hunting.  I didn’t see a single bird or mammal in the part I hiked.  It was a boring stand of 2nd growth dominated by pine with few oaks, despite the name.

2. Okefenokee Swamp Wildlife Refuge–I expected to see lots of wading birds.  I didn’t see a single wading bird or alligator.  I visited during a drought, so there was no water, and no wildlife at all.  Nothing!

1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park–This overcrowded joke is completely devoid of wildlife.  I saw absolutely nothing, except for thousands of Homo sapiens.  There are 2 areas of this park that are allegedly rich in wildlife–Cades Cove and the Canaloochee.  When I visited, the road to Cades Cove was closed.  A visit to the Canaloochee requires a drive up a steep narrow winding road.  I got tired of driving up this shitty road and turned back.  Wildlife habitat in this park would be greatly improved with selective logging and regular burning.  The do-gooders in charge will never do this.  Having more wildlife would cause more work and conflicts than they want to handle.

Sadistic Hunters Saved what Pitiful Wilderness Still Exists

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In 1909 Theodore Roosevelt and his party  went on a safari and killed 44,900 mammals in just 11 months.  He founded the National Park Service so future sadists could continue to enjoy slaughtering animals.  That’s the only reason there is any wilderness left…so humans can continue to enjoy killing the animals that live there.

We can thank sadistic hunters for most of the wild lands that are left.  Theodore Roosevelt founded our National Park Service.  This bloodthirsty sadist went on safaris in Africa and slaughtered thousands of animals for the simple joy of killing.  All of North America’s magnificent animals would be extinct, if it wasn’t for sadists like him.  It’s a testament to the avarice of mankind that the only reason humans let other large wild mammals exist is so sadists can continue to enjoy killing them.

In a recent Facebook discussion I pointed out this ironic historical fact to Rob Pavey, the outdoor editor of the Augusta Chronicle, an extremely conservative publication.  He claimed I was “catastrophically misinformed,” then ended the discussion by barring me from posting any additional comments.  (I think he unfriended me.  Facebook is just silly.)  One has to marvel at the chutzpah of someone who declares they are smarter than you and refuses to continue the discussion.  I asked him to explain how I was misinformed, but he could not.  When someone comes across as misinformed to me, I am more than happy to inform them. I never bar anyone from discussion on my blog.  He seemed particularly defensive about hunting, even before I referred to hunters as sadists.  I doubt most hunters even admit to themselves why they enjoy killing animals. I’m not against killing animals for food, safety, or even to protect valuable property. But I’m convinced there are many hunters who kill animals because they enjoy the killing, yet won’t admit it.  I like to eat wild game meats, but there are many hunters who don’t even like to eat what they kill.  Anthony Bourdain, host of various cable channel travel and cooking series, once went duck hunting with regular duck hunters who admitted they didn’t like the taste of wild duck.  What is the purpose for them killing the birds, if they don’t want to eat them?  Do they just like to blow birds out of the sky for the hell of it?  No wonder Pavey was so defensive, and I might add intolerant of my inquiry.

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5 Responses to “My 5 Favorite and 5 Most Disappointing Wildlife Destinations”

  1. Lamar Says:

    There is nothing morally wrong with killing an animal for the joy of hunting him down and killing him… it’s okay to kill an animal just to say you’ve done it, and for the thrill of doing it. Killing an animal as a trophy is not wrong. It’s just that the mechanized slaughter and managing of them is bad. I’ve neighbours that will kill 50+ deer per season; does, fawns, spikes, bucks and all. They plant food plots and shoot deer after deer. Now that is wrong. They turn their property into one gigantic whitetail farm, and spend thousands a year to satisfy their bloodthirsty desire for deer slaughter.

  2. Lamar Says:

    More for the challenge of tracking them down and killing them just once to say you’ve done it, not so much for enjoying the life leaving their bodies. The endless slaughter of lots of beautiful animals just to kill them isn’t right.

  3. Tim Chandler Says:

    I can’t imagine someone who appears to know wildlife some well couldn’t find large mammals in the Smokies. What kind of person “gets bored” on the road to Cataloochee? The Elk are impressive there. Skipping Cades Cove was your biggest mistake, there are multiple points of entry and egress on both areas as well. We never see less that 20 or more bears and countless dear every time we go to the Smokies.

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