I need to start by saying I am not a hunting guide and have never successfully called a moose before. On this occassion I did it because I had seen it done before, so why not? It was late September and fall fishing was in full swing and so was the beginning of the rut for moose. So as I was stepping off the side of a dirt road toward my favorite stream it seemed like the woods erupted around me. Not only were the trees shaking, the ground was rumbling as well. As I made it back to the truck there was a pause in the action and that is when I felt it necessary to cup my hands around my mouth and make one of the worse moose calls an outdoorsman could make. Well I am not a hunting guide so that is my story and I will go with that.
After making a few more calls a very large cow moose came rumbling out of the woods with a calf in tow moving very quickly. All I could think was that was one of the worse calls if a cow had responded. Not long after that a massive bull came charging out of the woods and only stopped for a moment when I tried another call to stop him so I could get a better picture. All I remember is the steam coming out of his nostrils as he crossed the road. So I did what any sane outdoorsman would do and I got into my truck to try and cut ahead of them to try and get a better vantage point.
There was no question in my mind that this bull wanted to mate with this cow. The only problem is that she had a calf and she would not go into estrus at that time. This bull would give it his best shot and possibly kill the calf to make it happen. When I got a better vantage point I could tell that the bull had made contact as it was like a royal rumble. The smaller fir and spruce trees shook violently as these massive creatures both let their intentions be known. It seemed to go on forever, but in reality it probably only lasted a few minutes. Then all was quiet and the silence that followed was really creepy and disturbing. The birds were even silent. I thought the worse, but I wasn’t foolish enough to go into the woods looking to find out the outcome of the battle. I never found out what happened to the calf and cow. We just have to accept that life in the wilderness can be brutal, harsh and unforgiving.
This was the most exciting experience I have ever had with a moose in the woods. Most of my exposure to moose are basic photo opportunities along the road or along the river, but my most comical experience was in the Moosehead region. Jeff and I were driving along a dirt road and as we came around a corner we saw a young bull moose running into the bushes along the road. I had my camera ready, but I didn’t want to take a picture of his backside so I did the first thing I could think of and whistled at him. It shouldn’t have worked, but it did. He turned, came back into view and just stood there. We were able to take plenty of pictures and during the whole time he just stood there. All we could think was the season for moose opened in a week and this young bull probably would become tablefare for some hunter due to his being way too comfortable around humans.
It is always a pleasure seeing these magnificent creatures up close, but sometimes those encounters can take a while. Last fall while driving to the river there was a young moose that wouldn’t move out of the road to let us pass. When he eventually decided to move it was to slowly jog down the road in front of us. He then stopped and stared at us for a few more minutes before he began another slow jog. There was plenty of time for photo opportunities, but we really just wanted to get on the river. He really didn’t seem to care about our presence and after a while we just accepted that he would move when he wanted. One does not just try and move an animal that large.