Moose on the Loose!

I took this picture of a bull moose on a buggy Spring day. The moose was feeding while immersed in the pond to get away from the bugs.

I took this picture of a bull moose on a buggy Spring day. The moose was feeding while immersed in the pond to get away from the bugs.

I have to admit, both my husband and I have something of a moose fetish.  I can’t logically say why, but we absolutely love these giant, ungainly creatures beyond all reason.  How can the Hagrid of the animal world be so graceful? I’ve seen several moose since moving to Maine and I never tire of a moose sighting or lose my sense of wonder.  Our moose love affair even extends to kitschy decor, which if you know me, is atypical and bizarre since I hate souvenirs, tschotchkes and kitsch of all kinds.  Yet we have a moose salt and pepper shaker, a moose bread board, a moose coaster set, a moose hook for hanging towels, and even moose shower curtains (many of these were gifts from friends and family, and much appreciated).

We’ve had a few moose visiting our property over the years.  One horrendously buggy Spring day, a bull moose, his antlers in velvet (the soft coating on new antlers that grow in the Spring) , was feeding in the pond beneath our house, where he had immersed to get some relief from the blackflies, ticks and deerflies.  Like an idiot and completely in awe, I crouched behind a tree and with a long lens, took dozens of pictures.  Since I hadn’t expected this encounter, I didn’t come coated with the necessary bug spray; in those 15 minutes I suffered over 75 painful insect bites on my ankles while taking pictures (but it was worth it, even though I was itchy, swollen and miserable for 3 weeks afterwards!)

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This poor guy's rump is covered in ticks.  Many moose in the White Mountains are victims of Tick Wasting Disease.

This poor guy’s rump is covered in ticks. Many moose in the White Mountains are victims of Tick Wasting Disease.

After immersing his head completely in water, he shook off his antlers much like a dog would do.

After immersing his head completely in water, he shook off his antlers from side to side much like a dog would do.

 

 

One time we weren’t home, but our webcam caught a cow moose near my apple orchard in the distance.

This moose photo was taken by our webcam when we were away from home.  It's along the periphery of the apple orchard fence.

This moose photo was taken by our webcam when we were away from home. It’s along the periphery of the apple orchard fence.

Another time on a late winter night,  I heard noise directly under our bedroom window, and there in the snow were a mother moose and her baby, stripping the bark from our beech trees.  Even though they were only a few feet away, it was a pitch black night and the flashlight wasn’t powerful enough to really get a good look at them.

Two summers ago, I was reading in the hammock outside when suddenly my dog cried “woof.”  A large cow moose ran through our property and moved in the direction of my neighbor’s rustic cabin (his wife saw the moose half an hour later while picking wild berries on their property).

I’ve also seen several moose along our road while driving at dusk, and in Deer Hill bog while hiking and driving.

Two moose nuzzle one another on the road leading to my house

Two moose nuzzle one another on the road leading to my house

But with all of those sightings, my husband was unappeased.  “I won’t be satisfied until I see a big bull moose walking up our driveway,” was his common refrain.  Up close and personal.

Today, exactly that happened!

It was an hour before sunset.  I was sitting at my dining room window, typing away on my laptop.  I love the view from this spot.  Now that the leaves are gone from the trees, I can see down the length of our driveway all the way to Little Pond (an ambitious name:  it’s really a gigantic bog); and out of the side windows, I can look out onto the apple orchard and the woods beyond.

Suddenly I became aware of a big, dark mass in my peripheral vision.  I looked outside:  it was an absolutely gigantic bull moose with a very impressive rack of antlers meandering up our driveway! My first thought was not to get a camera;  it was to scream down to the basement, where my husband has an office, to make sure he would see it too:  “Look outside your window!  It’s a moose!” I shrieked.  I was practically hysterical, I was so excited.  I wasn’t sure my husband could hear my shouting, since his hearing aid had broken over the weekend, so I was yelling as loud as I could down the stairs (fortunately our windows were closed so the moose wasn’t frightened off by my voice).  My husband was on an important business call and tried to control his emotions.   He was unsuccessful.  “Gotta go!  I’m looking at a moose a few feet away from me!” he said to his coworkers in Indiana, who were undoubtedly scratching their heads and wondering what the heck he was drinking. By the time my husband let me know that he was looking at it, the moose was positioned in such a way that a photograph would have been impossible.  But just before that, he stopped only 2′ from the house, sniffed our parked car, and continued moseying, till he reached the outlying fence of my apple orchard and then he walked into the woods, quickly blending in with the trees and disappearing from sight.

My husband and I were like two little kids, overcome with excitement and jumping up and down.  “We saw it!  We saw it!  It really happened!  A bull moose actually wandered up our driveway!”

A few minutes later I got the notion to set out in the same direction as the moose.  I was carrying my smartphone, which has moose call apps.  One is of a cow moose in heat (not a very pretty sound!) and the other is of a male in rut.  Perhaps this was a foolish idea, since this time of year is rutting season, the mating season for moose, and bull moose consumed with desire are truly dangerous animals.

Alas, (perhaps it was ultimately for the best where safety is concerned) the moose calls on my smartphone did not entice Mr. Moose to return.  I was happy, however, that our very smart bull moose was wandering on our side of the road.  You see, it is moose hunting season now, and somewhat oddly, the border between two different Wildlife Management Districts (WMD’s) happens to be the road in front of my house.  On our side of the road, WMD #12, moose hunting season finished a week ago; but just across the street on the other side of the road, WMD #15, hunting season is now through November 29th.

A moose's hoofprint is heart-shaped.

A moose’s hoofprint is heart-shaped.

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