My Summer With Fat Earl The Ground Squirrel

A few summers ago I took some time to drive out to the old home place where I grew up during the 50’s and 60’s. Lots of memories accompany me with every visit so each trip is a “grounding” of sorts.  I think we all need that from time to time, or at least I do.

One of my first contacts with Fat Earl. Canon 5D and Canon 400mm F5.6L handheld.

On one particular trip in early summer I noticed a small critter scurrying through the parched grass a short distance away and after closer inspection I recognized a little Mexican ground squirrel quite busy looking for some grub to store in his burrow. Being somewhat familiar with the habits of these little boogers I quietly approached with my camera and shot some images. Seeming to be somewhat unafraid of my 6 ft frame towering nearby, it was clear that I should take advantage of his acceptance of me and plan a routine pilgrimage to solidify our symbiotic friendship.

"Earl" eating a mesquite bean. Canon 1D Mark II with Canon 400mm F5.6L and handheld.

As the visits became routine “Fat Earl” and I became pals and he trusted my being near him at all times. I would often find him/her seeds to eat and occasionally an insect for dessert, an added morsel he seemed to relish.

Over the course of the summer I took over a thousand photos of Fat Earl doing what ground squirrels do. Then one day I drove up and something was different.  Earl did not come running when I exited the pickup. An ominous void troubled me as I approached his burrow, a feeling that perhaps all was over for the little dude. After several minutes of imitating his call, a whistle that always brought a response, I knew that our time together was over.

Fat Earl with a grasshopper for dessert.

I never knew for certain what happened to Fat Earl but suspect he was a casualty of the age old law in nature that has defined wildness since time immortal.  Perhaps a coyote, bobcat or more likely a winged predator took the little guy. Although I was saddened at this loss, I understood. It is the way of life on the wild side. Adios Fat Earl…I will not forget you.

Yours truly and Fat Earl bonding in the last days. Photo by Jerod Foster.





  1. Kirk says:

    Looks like a thirteen lined GS, maybe a gopher snake got him.
    Or a 9600 series John Deere went and “runnned” him over LOL

  2. Lisa Rocha says:

    Wyman, I truly enjoyed the Fat Earl story. Couldn’t help but tear up right at the end. It is a wonderful thing to have a close relationship with one of God’s creatures. Keep those stories coming.

  3. Larry Beauchamp says:

    Wyman, great story and better pictures as always! You do a great job and it is appreciated. Thanks for sharing.

    • wymanmeinzer says:

      Comments like yours are the very source of my desire to continue telling these stories. I can’t thank you enough!

  4. Scott Rodibaugh says:

    I was introduced to your work this morning (after 24 years in TX); thank you so much.

    While reading about Earl, I was listening to some wonderful gospel music, a capella. I was immediately reminded how God made these amazing creatures and then he made man. The creatures do not fail God, ever. They always meet his expectations and follow his plan.

    But then that’s what makes man different.


    • wymanmeinzer says:

      Amen Scott! Thanks for sharing and I hope you will be watching my blog each Monday morning for a new story and photos.

    • wymanmeinzer says:

      Thanks man! I’ll be posting a new story every Monday morning from now on. Sylinda and Charlie have made me see that I need to become more involved and I’m finding that I really enjoy revisiting these times and telling the stories behind them.

  5. Dave Kittley says:

    Wyman the “Ground Squirrel Whisperer” Love it “Fat Earl” :) Great images they speak much more than a thousand words in this case!! Great Story.. Thanks for sharing!!

    • wymanmeinzer says:

      Thanks Dave,
      You are kind to say so! Hope you are doing well and having a good week.
      Wyman the “Ground Squirrel Whisperer”. :-)

  6. Lisa Prosser says:

    Great story. I love animals & it is nice to see others bond with them also. The story does make a tear come to your eye thinking of the relationship lost.

    • wymanmeinzer says:

      I was very sad when I drove up that hot summer day and Fat Earl did not come to meet me to get his little snack that I always provided him.
      At least I have the photos to remember him by. Glad my story touched your heart.

    • wymanmeinzer says:

      Thank you for the compliment. I appreciate it very much!! Please keep watching the web site. I have a blog scheduled to be released each Monday morning. Looking forward to hearing from you often.

  7. LuAnn V Lambright says:

    Such beautiful pictures and it makes me want to reach out and gently stroke his little tummy. ha thank you for the beauty of the country and the joy it brings to see pictures of wildlife, scenery and beauty.

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