Canadian photographer R. John Knight shares the stories behind some of his nature and wildlife images

Monday, December 6, 2010

Is There a Fox, an Elk or a Grouse, in your Rear-view Mirror?

Bull Elk
While visiting Prince Albert National Park last fall, we drove along the north shore of Waskesiu Lake early one morning in search of wildlife.  We paused briefly at the bridge over the Waskesiu River, but didn’t see anything.

As we pulled away from the side of the road, Sherrill did a shoulder and mirror check, and happened to notice a fox running up from the ditch.  We stopped, and watched as the fox came towards us on the other side of the road.

While aware of us, it was clearly intent on hunting.  I jumped out of the truck with my camera and 500mm lens, and managed to get a couple of shots over the hood as it ran past.

Shortly after passing us, the fox saw something in the far ditch.  It stopped, and froze.  I fired off a few more shots, and then paused and looked up to see what the fox was going to do next.  As I did, the fox flew high into the air and launched itself out of sight into the ditch.  A few moments later, the fox reappeared, licking its chops, and continued hunting along the edges of the road.  I had missed the ‘wow’ shot of catching the fox in mid-air on my camera, but his airborne pounce was captured as a virtual image in my brain.

Checking us out
Something moved in the ditch!
Ready, aim ...

... missed launch and capture!!!

M-m-m-m-m good!!!

We slowly followed the fox for another kilometre or so, as he continued hunting.  He stopped several more times to chase and catch something in the ditch or the adjacent woods.  Eventually, he crossed the road and disappeared into the woods.

On the road again!
Boy, that was good!
We headed down the road, and were surprised to find another fox coming the other direction only a few kilometres away.  This time, the fox disappeared into the woods as soon as we were spotted.

We traveled up and down the road a few more times that morning, but did not see the foxes again.  An important lesson from this encounter was to not only have your camera and long lens ready, but to periodically check your rear-view mirror for wildlife.  If Sherrill hadn’t done her shoulder and mirror check, we would have missed seeing the first fox.

Grouse hiding in the roadside grass


  1. Wonderful story, John. Great captures! For you and the fox...

  2. An astounding experience no doubt and amazing photos. It's incredible that what you could not capture through your lens is inscribed into your mind's eyes. The closest I've been to a fox was when we were in Cavendish Beach in PEI. Thanks for sharing, looking forward to more blogs and and photos. Teresa