Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee - Vol. 20
Special Guest Contributor Terry Staub
Dear friends of the moose,
The second to last night of my summer on the Plains, I decided to take a short stroll up the Mitchell loop, to where the snowmobile club put in a bridge (just for me?). People don't have to wade over the beaver dam to get around the beaver ponds anymore. Thanks snowmobilers!
Earlier this year, I mentioned to Gary Lee that I had smelled moose in the area on the flat above the steep climb to the bridge, where it levels off a bit like a shelf, then goes up to the bridge.
This time, as I returned down the trail and reached the level ground of the shelf, I was surprised by the sudden appearance of a cow moose (photos), and I could hear a second moose in the woods to the left of the trail, out of sight.
To my greater surprise, as I fumbled with my camera, she began walking straight towards me. From 40 yards, to 30, 20 and 10 yards.
I began talking in a soft but gentle voice to her, "It's okay, the Lord is with us." I have seen that video where a cow lunges with its front legs to push an object out of the way or is just mad, I was just making sure she knew I wasn't an object.
When I spoke, a bull, a beautiful male with a heavily antlered rack, stepped out on the trail and, just as suddenly, stepped back into the trees, with saplings next to the trail rattling his big horns. This bull was a hand or two taller than Harold (a well known moose on Helldiver Pond), who I have stood just as close to, if not closer.
I kept talking to help calm myself as much as the bull. The cow stepped off the path to my right and the Bull was on my left. I was beginning to feel like I was behind a rock and a hard place, or a cow in heat and a bull in rut.
But just as suddenly as they appeared, they were gone. I got one last quick look at the bull as he attacked another bunch of saplings further off the trail, then heard him crashing away.
The cow didn't make a fuss at all. She had gotten so close to me that I could no longer take her photo. At that point, I might better have tried to get a photo of the bull, but he was a dervish in the saplings, rattling, grunting and carrying on.
Video doesn't download in my photo lab, I was so impressed.
I am sorry I ruined their date.
I could see how a hunter might feel threatened in such a circumstance, but all that is required is a little faith, common sense and a gentle voice; don't panic. I have had much the same experience with momma bears and deer.
Did I write don't panic? I have to admit, for the next hour, I could not simply go back to camp. I was too excited and had to walk a few more miles before dark. And even then, it was a bit hard to get to sleep with all the images of moose in my head.
The last photo is the closest I got to a photo of the bull. You can sort of make him out, but it’s like trying to find the picture within the picture of the lion on the vinyl cover of the Santana album.\
What a G-d blessing that on my second to last day on the Plains, I would experience this wonder.
-Terry Staub, Guest Contributor
Bull moose through the trees