I have done a great deal of both during my years of research and I have found advantages and disadvantages with both.  The best advantage to going into the bush alone is the ability to remain quiet.  Logic would suggest you are more likely to see wildlife this way though I must admit that coming across large animals, like deer and bear, have occurred as often in the company of other researchers as it has on my own, with the exception of the one good sighting I had of a cougar in the Alberta Rocky mountains in the early 1990s.

The biggest disadvantage of going alone is the safety factor.  I have often thought, looking back at all those times I was by myself, nobody knowing where I was, if something unforeseen would happen well, needless to say, the jig was up.  A reality which hit too close for comfort during the summer of 1986! That is a tale for another day…

However, sorry to say, I didn’t really learn my lesson and continued to just go into the back country on a whim when the urge to look for evidence hit me – and it still does, too often for my own good.

Researching with others of a common interest has mutual benefits as far as personal safety is concerned.  This goes without saying.  But the greatest advantage of searching with others is simple and straight forward – more eyes continuously scanning the immediate surroundings makes it less likely that something will be missed.  It won’t guarantee it, but in my opinion it does tip the odds a little more in the researchers favor!

Thomas Steenburg

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