As evening falls, a minibus arrives to take me on a wildlife-watching trip. It's known that animals are more active in the evenings and mornings so this is the time when I have the best chance of seeing some. In these parts, one can certainly spot various types of deer and in more humid areas, moose. As I've already experienced, there's also a considerable number of bears in the surrounding areas.
However, initially, our route does not venture far from the city. Across the river lies a lavish lodge, with large green plantations spread around it, something midway between a forest and a park with laid-out paths. Our route first takes us there, where due to the ample supply of grass between trees, we can spot grazing deer.
While the scenery is pleasant, I have mixed feelings about this experience. Essentially, I could have reached this area on foot, without any vehicle, and observed wildlife purely with my naked eye. Yet, according to the tour rules and local laws, if you spot an animal, you are not allowed to exit the vehicle or approach it, which limits active engagement and interest.
Ironically, these rules don't seem to apply to those who happen to be walking along the road or driving their vehicles. Ignorant or disregarding these rules, they get to observe the animals without a glass barrier, thereby enjoying a more authentic wildlife experience.
This tour, in some ways, seemed to impose more restrictions than what I might have experienced without it. However, the deer we saw were moving from one side of the road to another, not coming too close, but not viewing humans as particularly threatening either. Their main concern was finding grass. During the rutting season, it can be dangerous to be around them, when their rutting season starts the males might perceive a human as a rival.
However, one positive aspect of this trip was the opportunity it provided me to see the local landscapes at sunset from a different perspective. We quickly passed by Medicine Lake, circling closer to the smaller lakes, where we again encountered a group of deer blending in among the darker foliage.
Nevertheless, out of all the tours I have taken in this area, this was probably the least interesting. It gave me the impression that to truly experience the wildlife, it might be better to explore on foot, going out for a few days rather than trying to capture glimpses of them through the windows of a minibus.