PORT ARTHUR — This week I began work on a new book.
It will be called “Chester’s Wild Life” and detail my most memorable wildlife encounters from childhood until publication time.
While looking back at my note I came across something I had written but forgotten about but really gets to the heart of what the book would be about.
Back in 2002, my wife Lisa and I taught kids how to identify animal tracks at the Texas Wildlife Expo in Austin.
Hundreds of kids came through our booth that day and took a shot at guessing what the six plaster cast animal tracks we had were. The casts were red wolf, cougar, raccoon, bobcat, alligator and an otter.
The first kid of the morning pointed at the bobcat track and said it was a bear. I explained to him that a bear’s track, even a baby one, is much larger and shows claws.
“Maybe it had its claws clipped.”
Probably 200 kids correctly identified the raccoon track. Some of them had seen them crossing the road, in the garbage can or at a zoo. One kid said he had a raccoon in his front yard.
When I asked if it was his pet he said, “No, my dog ate it this morning.”
His mom blushed and took him on to another booth.
Kids directed the most interesting comments at the alligator track, which is about 10 inches long. Many kids guessed that it was a bear track. That is understandable considering it is long and has claws.
I nearly had to bite a hole in my lip to stop from laughing when a little girl said it was a chicken track. To make matters worse, her mom walked up and said the same thing before I could correct her.
I quickly explained it was an alligator track and said if I ran into a chicken that big I would have to call in the military for back up.