Face-to-Face with a BIG Moose!

20160523_190334.jpgLate one afternoon, we were working around the property and I heard the dogs barking back in the woods. Since we moved in, the dogs have enjoyed chasing ground squirrels and other rodents, but they have never been deep in the woods barking
incessantly. I called out to Nate and asked him if he was hearing the dogs barking. He said, “Yes”, and then he trekked off into the woods to see what they were excited about. They all came back a few minutes later. Nate said they saw a giant moose
with a newborn calf. He asked me if I wanted to come and see. Nate changed from his flip flops into his boots and grabbed his gun (for protection), and we hurried up the hill behind our property, with dogs, D’Beau and Tucker, leading the way.
(Anyone who knows these dogs will get a good laugh thinking about them bounding off into the woods to hunt down a big moose). We didn’t go far, maybe 100 yards into the deep woods. I knew from the dogs’ barking and Nate telling them to hush that they were close. I was about 10 yards behind them. I heard a very scary grunting noise and looked through the thick brush towards the direction they were all looking and I saw a large patch of brown fur. It moved it’s head and looked directly at me.
I have never felt that much fear race through my body all at once. I have hunted wild game and been close to many wild animals, but never this close, practically face-to-face with a giant moose. I turned and ran back through the woods to the
house, all the while looking back over my shoulder to make sure it wasn’t chasing me. I think it was the size of the animal that struck me so, or the wildness of the situation. It was so unreal, that it felt that I had just seen Bigfoot. Nate says it was as big as a horse, and the largest he has ever seen. He came back to the house, and I told him it’s too bad we didn’t get a picture.

So, Nate grabbed his camera, and we headed back into the woods again. This time, without the dogs. We crept along until we could see the patch of brown fur through the thick woods. Nate motioned for me to stop and I did. I was further away this time, and I had no interest in getting any closer or seeing that thing face-to-face again. I slowly inched back as I watched Nate inch forward trying to get the pic. I heard the moose grunt and charge at Nate. Nate backed up a little, but
stood his ground. I was in awe at how unafraid he was. He alternated between holding his camera and holding his gun in front of him. A few minutes passed, and we heard rustling in the brush up the mountain from us. We were both thinking that a bear
may be following this moose with a baby calf. I called out to Nate, “We need to go”, and I headed back swiftly toward the house. I stood at the top of the trailhead where I had a clear path to run to the house, but could still see Nate. He was moving back
to the house slowly, and I wanted to be able to see him if something went wrong. Eventually, he caught up with me and we both arrived home safely.

Here is Nate’s account of the encounter—

I had just taken my boots off from a trip down the river, and put on my flipflops. I heard the dogs barking, and I walked up the trail I had just started cutting this week. I got about 100 yards into the woods when I heard a big grunt and growl. 25 yards in front of me, I saw a really big patch of brown fur. I knew it was either a bear or a big moose. I froze in my tracks to get a better look. At that point, the moose turned and looked at me. She grunted loud and started charging toward me. She charged about 10 feet and then stopped. So, I continued to watch her, shielding myself behind a tree. I saw that she had a calf with her. Then, I knew why she was being so aggressive.
I watched at a distance with her knowing that I was there. The whole time she continued to grunt and show aggravation. The hair on her back was standing up. This I knew was a sign of protection for her young. I knew that she wasn’t going to charge me and chase me. She wasn’t going to leave her calf behind, but I knew if I got anywhere closer, she was definitely going to charge me and stomp me up. At this point, I was more worried about the dogs getting punted across the lake by a big moose. So, I got them and walked them slowly back to the house. Keeping
an eye on the moose at all times. At this point, I wanted Jen to witness the moose and baby calf. So, I put my boots on, grabbed my Marlin 45-70 not wanting to hurt the mother cow, but for protection, for a worse case scenario, if Jen or I got trampled. I took Jen back to the location. The moose was still in the same spot. She saw us, looked at us, and grunted, and Jen took off running. I stayed behind for 10-15 minutes watching her.

Then, went back to the house and got a trail cam and put it on the fresh trail path I had just cut knowing she is going to more than likely use the fresh cut trail. Moose like the paths of least resistance when walking through the bush. When we got home, Jen asked me if I was scared at all and asked what was going on in my head when I was there. I told her I was not afraid at all. Being a true nature lover, I was more excited than afraid. I was cognizant at all times about the distance between myself and the moose, and I had already scoped out a safety location for myself if things went bad.
I was enthralled and amazed by the situation. Actually, my first thought was, “Great, now the moose are going to be getting into my fresh vegetable garden.” My second thought was, “Maybe, if the dogs can distract the mom, I can sneak behind her and grab the calf and run so that I could keep the baby moose as a pet.” I did learn that no matter how close you are to the house, always to have a sidearm with you, especially if the dogs are barking because if that would have been a big grizzly bear, things could have gotten ugly. We had just had lunch at a cafe in town a few hours earlier and saw pictures of a 10 foot grizzly bear killed yesterday in the area.

 

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