The hunt for the great white squirrel…

My journey into newspaperdom continues…with a story News Sentinel editor Richard Hanner has been discussing with reporter Amanda Dyer for the past few weeks. Amanda received a report of a white squirrel last Christmas. She attempted to follow up without luck.

I guess this story has been haunting her…it is a good story. Hanner jokingly refers to it as “Moby Squirrel.” The problem was, they had a location and not much else to go on except Amanda’s hunch that the squirrel was real. So I talked with a family who lived in the area and they confirmed the little critter was real…real enough to make it worth my while to go on a stake-out.

That evening found me in an undisclosed rural area laying in wait for a creature that might not even show its tail. Got lots of shots of regular ground squirrels…as far as I could see there were no trees for the climbing type in the area, so that’s what I shot. Cute little guys (or gals – who can tell the difference). Even what appeared to be a little squirrel family. Dad, mom and the kids. But they were all regulation brown.

Every time I drove through the area, I’d be looking into that field with no satisfaction.

A few days later I tried an other stake-out…this time at the far end of the field. Another beautiful evening spent watching the sun drop down…down…down. So I packed in my tripod and was getting ready to slam the van door when I saw – you guessed it – a flash of white.

This squirrel had been so damn elusive I couldn’t risk any sudden moves, so I just turned the camera on and did my best not to breathe. What a standoff. After I had enough in my mind to know this was it, I slowly slid the tripod under the camera for a steady shot.

I stared at (him?) and (she?) stared right back. This was the real deal…even though I was at least a hundred feet away I could clearly see the white fur.

But the sun was nearly gone, so I packed it in and emailed the Sentinel with the good news. Ishot this using my HV20 in hi-def mode…so I zoomed in for a better view of the squirrel. Unfortunately the enlarged video, while not as shakey or out of focus, does bear resemblance to some other elusive critter video I’ve seen. The Abominable Snowman. The Loch Ness Monster. Yeah – you can tell it’s a squirrel, but it ain’t crisp and clear. So I gotta go back until I get a shot that satisfies me. In the meantime the story will run in the Lodi News Sentinel tomorrow.

And the hunt continues….


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