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A photoblog sharing our discoveries as we explore America on the open road!

There’s a moose at my door!

There’s a moose at my door!
While staying in the Gros Ventre campground just north of Jackson Hole Wyoming, we were aware that moose live in the area. In fact, right now (Sept-Oct)­­, they are in mating season or the “rut”, when bulls come a calling after fair maiden moose. That brings all kind of action but I surely didn’t expect what happened to me the other morning. While I was letting our dog, Baxley, out for his business, I noticed 3 moose cows in the field across the road from our campsite. Of course Baxley took his good old sweet time, then I quickly put him in the RV and grabbed my photo gear. I felt the safest place to stay was at my campsite, and to get a better view above the tall sagebrush, I put my tripod up on the picnic table. There was little room for me up there too, but I managed not to fall off and began taking aim at the threesome.

 

Click on photo's for captions

Moose are a lot like horses in that they have a pecking order and body language to carry out those orders. If they pin their ears back, you best get out of the way. Other signs are lowering the head, raising the withers to make them look larger, and making mouth motions. One of the moose looked to be a bit younger and smaller. Well all was good and well till one of the bigger cows pinned her ears back at the little one. Little moose knew to get out of the way. She started getting closer to the road when I saw her looking at people watching her to my right. Then she pinned her ears back, and instead of going toward the other people, she came at me! Here I was, plenty of distance away, but she decided since she was being chastised by the other moose, she was going to take it out on something or someone. So I jump off the table trying to decide should I grab my gear, or jump in the RV. Somehow I did both and there she was, in an instant, right near the picnic table I just jumped off of! She was highly irritated, jumping, pawing, making noise, pinning her ears, and made the weirdest looks on her face. She truly looked like a mad cow!

I shouted to Jerry and we stood at the doorway, watching her have her hormonal heifer fit, when she ran back across the road to the other moose. But they still were not welcoming her, and chased her off again. Well, here she comes, back to our campsite! Same thing, charging at me while I was just standing just outside the door and so I jumped back in the RV. She kicked out, had another hissy fit, and snorted off to a field on our left. A jogger was going by and I tried to warn her of the dangerous situation. She just smiled and kept going till the moose came her way. Then she stopped dead in her tracks. Luckily the moose didn’t go after her, but instead, came right back to our site! This was the third time. I was beginning to wonder if I would be able to load my truck up with my gear to head out for the day. Jerry was able to take some video while I took still shots in our doorway. We did not provoke her at all. Finally, she went into the woods as the other two moose crossed our campsite, looking at the young moose like “what the heck is your problem?” I got a few parting shots as they all wondered into the woods, still shaking from the younger one charging me.

Moose can be the most dangerous animals to be confronted with. More people are attacked by moose in Alaska than bears or wolves. They are a force to be reckoned with, and extreme caution should be used if you see one. I cringe when I see people with their cell phones and point and shoot cameras get out of their cars to go up to them to take a picture. Most are very docile but during the rut, the game may change. Also, some cows can be very protective over their calves. Moose are very fast and agile. They can run as fast as 35 mph and swim at 6 mph. I use a very long telephoto lens and take every precaution I can. These are not big homely horses, they are wild animals and should be respected. A bull moose had come thru earlier in the week with velvet from his antlers that were shedding, hanging in his eyes and face. He was just meandering along for the longest time when I think he just had enough of all the people gawking at him and that stuff in his face. All of a sudden, he went running and thrashing his head into sage brush trying to get the velvet off. Then he would go charging off, with people scattering in all directions, and thrash into some brushes before running toward the river and crossing it. I did not follow of course.

So if you ever go camping in Gros Ventre campground, be not only bear aware, but moose aware. They are beautiful creatures but do not let your guard down and please keep at least 25 yards away, and have an exit plan. It could save your life and the moose.

 

4 Comments

  1. Wow what a story. We will be there on Friday, 9/18, hope to see Moose, but not as close as you!

    We are going to see if we can get an electric site, so we will be there early. Hope it warms up soon!

    • We are still here in an electric site and probably have bumped into eachother! There were 5 moose right behind us in the field yesterday with tons of people watching and getting too close. I bet you have seen moose by now :) Thanks for the comment and have fun!

  2. Hello – A friend forwarded this blog post to me. We had a similar experience a couple of years ago in Yellowstone with an elk! She chased us off a trail and scared the heck out of us! The rangers think she had a calf nearby. You are so right – these animals can be so unpredictable and it amazed me to no end during our stays in both Yellowstone and Grand Teton how close some people would get. Great story though!

    • Thank you and thank your friend for me! Many people just don’t realise that these are not tamed animals! You get a whole new respect for them after an experience like yours and mine, don’t you? Mommas are nothing to mess with.

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