I grew up on my grandparents’ farm in Newton County, Mo., and was used to seeing walking sticks on a regular basis.
My grandma always said they were good luck and to never harm them, so we just marveled at how cool they were and pretty much left them alone to do whatever they wanted.
My wife and four kids have lived in the country on 14 acres in Newton County for the past 17 years and have seen walking sticks off and on, but this summer we’ve seen probably a dozen different walking sticks in a variety of sizes.
The largest one we saw was about 9.5 inches in length, and I was shocked at first. I’ve seen some that were close in size, but never that big.
My middle daughter, who is 22, is actually pretty scared of the big guy. He’s very friendly, though, and we’ve had neighbors and other family members stop by just to see him. Oh yeah, we also named him Groot.
We have a grill on our back porch so I will walk back and forth on the porch grilling and doing other things, and Groot will sometimes pace with me, kinda following me around.
When we sit down, often he will come toward us and crawl up our chair legs; or down if he was hanging out near the ceiling. He seems to be very attentive and wants attention, though we’ve never touched him. He is inquisitive, also!
My kids are outdoors all the time and no stranger to wildlife. This was just another cool creature they got to experience.
Pretty sure I’ve heard a bear and some wild hogs on different occasions, but couldn’t find any evidence to back me up.
Anyway, I never really thought about bugs having personalities until Groot came along. What endeared us to him the most was his attentiveness — knowing where we were, following us and generally wanting to be part of the family. At least that’s the impression we got!
So enamored are we with Groot that I sent a picture of him to one of my friends who works at the Missouri Department of Conservation. Thrilled with our “special critter,” I asked my MDC guy if Groot could be a state record.
The answer I received was disheartening but not surprising, and I felt a little stupid for even asking. But hey! Never hurts to ask, right?