By Chuck Woodbury
Before I became politically correct and nature-smart, I fed wild animals. I fed bears as a kid in Yellowstone. I fed deer in Yosemite. I fed blue jays. I fed gray squirrels. I fed chipmunks. I fed anything that was cute that wasn’t interested in eating me.
I remember the little chipmunk you see here. He was in a Forest Service campground near California’s Lassen National Park. He and his buddies were very friendly. No, make that very aggressive. They wanted my food. I was traveling alone back then without a computer, cell phone, internet access or even a TV, so — in other words — I was bored out of my ever-lovin’ mind. So hanging out with rodents was a quality way to pass time.
This fellow was not after coffee as you might think from the photo. Nope, he was after Cheez-It crackers which I had hidden inside the mug. He saw me put them in — he and his buddies. For you and me, a spectacular meal might be a juicy steak or some fresh caught salmon. If you’re a vegan then maybe some tasty sprouts. But for a chipmunk, the ultimate dining experience is a feast of Cheez-Its. That’s just my guess, of course. . .
For me, this chipper presented a good photo opportunity. I was a struggling freelance writer and sometimes I sold my photos to magazines. I sold this one, earning enough to buy some gas, which seemed expensive back then at about $1.35 a gallon. Hah! I’d take that again in a flat second!
I no longer feed squirrels or chipmunks or anything that doesn’t have a home or a leash. I sure as heck would never feed a bear. Nowadays, I just feed myself and sometimes my daughter or girlfriend when they are with me. When chipmunks come along and start giving me the eye I say, “Get lost, pal.” And that’s that.