Dad is the primary driver for Randolph family excursions; in this capacity, he also doubles as Chief Spotter of Wildlife.
While the rest of the clan shares Dad's passion for North Carolina wildlife, they don't necessarily prioritize wildlife spotting over other worthwhile traveling pastimes like reading, texting, listening to music or grading papers.
As a result of these divergent interests and the associated delays in response time, wild critters spotted by Dad sometimes go unseen by others in the vehicle. This is generally not a big deal, particularly if the creature in question is relatively common, like a white tailed deer or red tailed hawk. It is a bit more disappointing and frustrating for the Chief Spotter, however, when the creature is question is somewhat uncommon.
Take, for example, the woodchuck, a.k.a. groundhog, a.k.a. gopher, a.k.a. whistlepig. North Carolina's largest member of the squirrel family, the woodchuck is not at all common around our home, although it is locally common in areas to our north and west. On trips to the NC mountains or northward into Virginia, Dad will frequently spot woodchucks feeding on the lush green grass of a rural ditch bank or sunning in a pasture along the Interstate.
Almost without fail, however, the Chief Spotter's excited cry of "woodchuck!" is met by a delayed chorus of "Where, where?!", "Which way?!", or simply "I didn't see it!"
So consistent is Dad's track record of un-corroborated woodchuck sightings, that his children often mock him with random shouts of "Groundhog!", even on brief trips to the grocery store and back.
Last Friday, Dad experienced another solo woodchuck sighting; while delivering payrolls within the Sanford city limits, no less. He excitedly shared the news of this rare occurrence with his family, only to be greeted with universal skepticism and a muttered, "Prob'ly just a 'possum..."
Desperate for redemption, he conveniently chose a homeward route on Saturday which coincided with the last known location of Friday's wayfaring woodchuck. Et voila! The woodchuck!
Thanks to Hunter for his alert response and swift camera work, otherwise this might have been just another case of...
Where, where?! I didn't see it!