Nature is wonderful.
Seeing wildlife in their natural habitat is amazing.
It’s amazing to see moose on the way to town. The glory and splendor that is a full-grown moose. The way a calf will trail after its mother as they trek through the snow-covered field. It can be awe-inspiring.
Until the day you turn the corner and find yourself faced with a moose butt.
Now, I am well aware that there are moose in the moods around my cabin. We have moose prints in the yard, a moose wallow at the top of the hill, and the dogs like to be at the window on “moosewatch.” I have had to stop in the road while the moose cross. One day, I was late to work because the moose wouldn’t move out of my driveway.
Moose are majestic animals…until you don’t have a front door, or a half ton of steel between you and them.
First, let us discuss the moose. Moose are big. Moose are large, moose are huge. Here’s a cute graphic for comparison I shamelessly swiped from National Geographic:
That’s a six-foot human and a full-grown bull moose. These are NOT small animals. However, I should point out that for a thousand pound animal, they are surprisingly stealthy. You can’t hear them coming though the snowy woods. You just turn around and *WHAM* there’s a semi truck behind you.
You should also know that moose have no sense of humor. It’s like they all need a cup of coffee and valium. They own the woods, and they will hunt you down. Well, chase you down. Okay, in all honesty, the literature says that it’s okay to run because most likely the moose won’t chase you down. But seriously folks, I’ve five feet tall. Two steps, and the moose has caught me.
According to the Alaska Wildlife service, moose can be downright bitchy. Especially if one idiot feeds them. “Moose that are fed by humans often become aggressive when they are not fed as expected. They may attack the next person they see if the person has no food to offer.”
Finally and this is especially important when you’re walking dogs, moose kick forward. Yeah, that’s right, being an eight foot tall, thousand pound brick wall isn’t enough, they have a reach. They kick forward, knock their opponent to the ground, and then stomp them to death. When I say that I fully expect to lose one of my dogs to a moose, I’m not kidding. My dogs are used to cows.As I frequently yell at tourists who get out of their cars and try to get closer to the moose to take pictures, MOOSE AND COWS ARE NOT THE SAME!
Here’s the story. I was in the woods behind my cabin, making a trail for a friend to work her trailing dog on. This involves being on the path, off the path, doubling back, and the obligatory serpentine. My job is to see if I can evade the dog. As I was walking down the trail, I noticed moose tracks beside the trail to my left. It was kinds cool, seeing all this stuff in the wilderness. I followed the tracks with my eyes, continuing down the path, and honestly went, “oh, look, here’s where he crossed and went into the woods.”
As my line of sight followed the tracks, and my view went up the snow bank…
In all it’s winter furry glory.
When you meet a moose butt on the trail. It is not magical, it is not awe-inspiring. It pretty much just makes you stop breathing and maybe pee your pants. Since I was not carrying a firearm or an axe, but merely a small hunting knife. (Which, despite all the demon slaying episodes of Supernatural that I’ve watched, I doubt my ability to take down a moose with.) I was suddenly very, very aware of the fact that without guns and tanks and helicopters and crash helmets, humans are not at the top of the food chain.
Secondly, I was extremely grateful that I didn’t have any of my dogs with me. They would have tried to herd the moose. Moose do not take kindly to being herded.
Surprisingly, I did actually spring into action with moose evading ninja-like skills. I slowly backed up, while texting the searcher “no go, moose on trail.” As I reached the far side of the trail…my phone beeped its text alert. The moose turned at the noise and stared at me.
I wasn’t up for testing the “okay to run” theory, so I continued to back up into the woods. My theory was to find some large trees to put between me and the furry mac truck taking interest in me. This was not a particularly stealthy or graceful retreat, as there was three feet of unbroken snow to get through.
But I did, and there were two huge fallen trees to my right just into the woods. I casually waded over to them, and slowly descended, like a mime in an invisible elevator. And waited. And waited. And waited.
I was waiting for the moose to get bored and leave. I got bored and started texting. I texted my friend Heidi. “I’m bored, I’m hiding from a moose.” She thought I was in the house peeking through the blinds like the moose had just asked me if I’d accepted Jesus as my personal lord and savior. When I conveyed the situation, she was a true friend and panicked with me. Still I waited for the moose to leave.
I wasn’t brave, or developed some wilderness skills, I just got bored waiting. So, I decided to take the chance. I slowly stood up, and walked to the next tree. You know, all casual like. Hey moose, nothing to see here. Just a two-legged woodland creature out for a little forage in the woods. I stopped behind the tree, and checked over my shoulder. No moose activity. I casually strolled to the next tree.
Of course, then the Mission Impossible theme started going through my head. As I slunk from tree to tree. Secret moose spy ring activated!
So, long story longer, I made it back to the cabin. We trained somewhere else. The moose may have followed me home. There were fresh tracks in the yard. I’ve named him Ivan.
A week later, I was relaying this story at my local gas station hair salon laundromat water station propane tank refill coffee shop liquor store grocery store, and one of my neighbors calmly said, “Oh, don’t worry, last year there were bears in the area, so the moose stayed off the trail.”
I think it was supposed to be re-assuring.
I’d rather have the moose.