It's early in the morning in Shawano County. A team of novice snowshoers are traversing through the woods outside the Navarino Nature Center, W5646 Lindsten Road, Shioction.
The caravan's goal as they snake through the trees is simple. Get the perfect snapshot of a porcupine, while opening the eyes of the youngest members of the group to Wisconsin's wealth of wilderness.
"We're the doorway to the wildlife area. We want to help get people in touch with what's out there," Tim Ewing told Newsline 9.
Ewing is a naturalist at the center, and leader of the snowshoe pack. He knows where to look for porcupines and is up for the challenge of the day's mission.
"Just like us, each porcupine has its own look and its own personality," Ewing said. "You can go to a zoo and see it, but to see it in the wild and there's nothing between you and it and your in it's home, that's a different feeling," he continued.
The snowshoers were able to find two porcupine dens. One featured a shy creature tucked away in the base of a large oak tree.
The second den offered an eye-level view of a porcupine ready for a close-up. Standing less than two feet away, the group was able to see first hand the creatures infamous quills in detail.
And though they are in close proximity, the group is not in jeopardy of being jabbed by those quills.
Ewing says the notion the animal can shoot the quills at a target is false.
"They have to be able to hit the animal that's attacking them," he said.
The Navarino Nature Center offers educational programs geared toward children and families throughout the year. For more information, including a season schedule, follow this link.