the moose

Here’s one from years back. I posted it almost ten years ago on the old original buzztail. Thought I’d bring it back here.

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In my wilderness wanderings I’ve run into quite a few moose. Some pretty close up, some not so close. They are an impressive animal to say the least.

Back when I lived in northern Minnesota I used to spend quite a bit of time at my friend’s cabin near the Boundary Waters. Moose country. Now you may be familiar with the eastern moose. While not as large as the Alaskan moose, the eastern moose grows considerably larger than the shiras moose that we have here in the west. A full-grown bull is one mighty creature.

One fall day we hiked in to a small lake a few miles from the cabin. Tom brought a fishing rod along hoping to catch a few trout for dinner. I took along a shotgun hoping to find a couple of grouse to go along with them. I left him at the lake and set off along an old abandoned tote road.

I had gone about a half mile or so when I came to a spot where the trail curved around a small thicket of balsam trees. As I came close to the thicket I heard a shuffling sound, and a huge bull moose came around the curve, right on the trail. We saw each other at the same time and we both froze, no more than twenty feet apart. He was big and in his prime — each antler palm was a good three feet long. I just stood there with my mouth hanging open looking up at him, and he stood there looking down his snout and turning his head from side to side, rolling his eyes to look at me. We stood there like that for probably about a minute, which is a very long time indeed when you’re literally nose to nose with the largest creature you’ve ever seen.

I didn’t want to annoy him — I didn’t know if the moose were in their rut yet, but I did know that a rutting bull can be quite testy. If he was in a fighting mood I could be in deep, deep shit. I took a couple of slow sideways steps toward the balsam thicket, thinking I could dive into them if I had to. I would have beat myself bloody doing that, but it beat the alternative should he choose to charge. My move satisfied him though. He visibly relaxed and proceeded to move on down the trail right past me. I looked up and watched his right side antler pass nearly over my head, and I could have leaned out and touched him as he passed had I been so foolish. I wasn’t. He could have just as easily tilted his head down, hooked me with an antler, and sent me flying into the brush. He didn’t. He moved on past me, went a few more yards down the tote road, and turned off and slowly disappeared into the woods. He never looked back. All I could do was collapse onto my knees and let the moment sink in.

I got up and slowly made my way back to where Tom was fishing. When I got there he nodded at the ridge that ran next to the lake and said oh man, I should have been there a little sooner. He had happened to turn and look behind him while fishing and saw a huge bull moose go up and over the ridge. I looked over at the ridge and just said yeah. I saw him too.

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