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Monday, February 2, 2015

A Moose Meeting

I could hear the wind howling outside this morning but today is a special day so I got up for sunrise anyway. You see, on Groundhog Day, the sun rises exactly between the two peaks that sit to our east. I took a photo this morning but the sunrise was obscured by clouds. I'm hoping for clear skies tomorrow so I can get the elusive photo of the sun between those peaks!
We've concluded that a cloud-covered sunrise on Groundhog Day means 16 more weeks of snow for us!

When the sun finally rose above the clouds, Shyla and I found a protected spot to soak up a few rays.
Then, we went on our way, having a tough but fun snowbike ride. It was tough because the wind kept stopping me in my tracks or blowing me sideways!

After I rode with Shyla, I headed out on my own, and the adventure of the day started. I spotted two moose, a mother and a calf about 30-40 yards uphill of a trail very close to our house. I happened to have a long lens with me so I thought it was my lucky day.

My first photo accidentally caught mom itching herself with her hind hoof! I had to crop these photos substantially so I'm sorry for any blurring.
Then, Mom and her calf started eating all the tender shoots that they could find. They stayed almost exactly side-by-side.
I made sure that they knew I was there by making noise at the start. Although they each looked at me a few times, they didn't seem at all concerned with me.
I guess they'd already eaten the lower shoots because they were both reaching high to nibble.
In a super cropped view of mom reaching up, you can even see her teeth! It looks like she should brush more often!
In Junior's photo, you can start to see that he has antler buds just above his eyes.
You can really see it from a front view. I hope he grows up to have great big antlers!
They just kept eating, as if I wasn't there. I kept my distance, staying down on the trail and not approaching at all.

As I watched them devouring every new shoot on the aspens and the shrubs, I started wondering about how wise it was to "introduce" moose to Colorado. Apparently, they probably never inhabited this area prior to the introduction. I wonder how the vegetation is going to be affected.
I was just about to depart when mom gave me this look, which gave me a hint of worry.
Then she lowered her head a little, and I departed right away. I'm not sure why it worried me - she hadn't walked any closer to me but I followed my gut feeling.
I did my solo ride, which was mainly organized around some trail camera maintenance. Then, I headed home.

My route home took me past the "moose spot" again to get to my house, although quite a bit of time had passed since I'd seen the moose there. I rode slowly, scanning carefully for the moose as I rode. I started to think that they were gone.

Then, all of a sudden, mother moose burst out of the dense forest, head down, charging me. Holy Moly. I've never been so scared by any animal in the forest.

I yelled. My first yell was a yell of fear. Then, in the course of 2 seconds, I knew I had to stop her before she stampeded me and possibly killed me. My next two yells were angry and aggressive, telling her to "GO, GO, GO AWAY". And, I simultaneously swung my beloved new Meriwether bike between her and me.

At seemingly the last instant, she shied away, with the kind of body language that horses use when scared of something. I kept talking to her in an authoritative way as I backed away. She was now walking in the opposite direction but I continued to back away for a long distance, making sure she wasn't coming up behind me.

Needless to say, I need to figure out how to make sure this type of encounter doesn't happen again. Perhaps I'll carry a bell so they can hear me coming before I am too close. They like to hang out in dense foliage so it's very hard to see them soon enough to give them a wide berth.

I'm glad the moose are doing so well in Colorado but I am now leery of having them hanging around near our house on a regular basis. I'm sure that I'll learn to handle it, like the other wildlife, but today it seems scary.


  1. CRIKEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What an exciting day. How brave are you????? Mum would have just fallen to the ground in a screamin' heap and be trampled to death. If I was with her she would probably have thrown me at that moose. She's not very brave!! You sure got some beautiful photos, aye?? Be careful out there!!!!!

  2. OMD, you were so brave! I"m so impressed you could figure out exactly what to do.

  3. Did the wind sound like this ArooRoo, that was just me. The next time you run into that momma moose tell her to brush her teeth.

    Aroo to you,

  4. Those pictures are absolutely beautiful! Moose are one of my favorite animals!

    I am SO glad you are okay!! That must have been terrifying!

  5. Wow, In all my moose sightings in Wyoming I never saw one charge a person. Even when I thought they should. I don't know if a bell would help, but it couldn't hurt.

  6. Whoa Nelly!!! An encounter like that would probably have resulted in a necessary underwear change for me! I agree with your gut, she seemed to be giving you the stink eye. And I suppose when she saw you again she just went for it. Sooo glad you had your bike with you and the presence of mind to holler at her. Phew!

  7. Yikes. But I love that your first reaction is figuring out how to co-exist with them. My philosophy on wild animals and my forays into their woods.

    On a considerably smaller scale, I came upon a small herd of Elk grazing away yesterday. Pictures are up on the blog.

  8. well, the photos were awesome, but that charging? o.m.g.! i'm so glad you had your wits about you to turn tables and be aggressive towards her - and that it worked.

  9. Oh man oh man. My MOM has been 10 or 15 feet away from moose. BUTT when a moose is with it's calf she gives them a WIDE birth. Although last late Spring she did come around a corner and BOOM there was a mom, dad and baby. The dad seemed to just move along, butt the mom moose was having none of my MOM's unintended intrusion. MOM can relate the how scary that is. Glad you are safe. They are HUGE and powerful creatures and they really can move very fast.

  10. They warn us about the Roosevelt Elk making the same moves up here and they are tiny compared to are one tough Lady!!

    Not to mention an ace photographer, just love the Ground Hog Day sunrise along with the moose photos!!

  11. Glad you are all right and that the new bike wasn't damaged. You are lucky. The outcome could have been much worse.

  12. Omg!!! I didn't see this coming ....enjoying the beauty of the pictures and then wow. So glad you are OK!

  13. I'm proud of you, girl! You really think things through at a time of crisis. . .I'd probably apologize and try to explain!

    If anyone is going to cause us to have more winter, it will be that Mayor who gave the woodchuck his ear and he Bit it,
    getting further annoyed as the Mayor cursed and tossed him to the ground!


  14. You took so many great shots of the Moose! When I cross country skied this morning, Moose tracks crossed the trail 3 times. I was very alert but never had any contact. I saw how fast a Moose can charge when the Mama visiting our yard was harassed by the neighbor's dog. She showed signs of annoyance and then went from 0 to stampede in a second. The dog barely escaped. Since then, I've been VERY alert when I'm on the trails because I know their territory includes my surroundings!

  15. I have heard a lot of stories about moose being rather aggressive, so I'm glad your story had a happy ending of you going home to sit by the fire. My sister and I were once stalked by a really aggressive bull my cousin had on property near where my grandparents lived. I had learned enough that I knew I was going to keep trees between him and us, even though a fence was between us. We went home a longer way, through the woods instead of on the dirt road, but I think it was worth it. That same bull nearly killed my cousin later that year when it attacked him, and I wasn't even a little bit surprised. I honestly don't know if a bell would help warn a moose off or not. I am sure you'll get some good advice, though!

  16. WEll you got my attention... so glad you are safe. The pictures are wonderful. and you know how I feel about moose.

  17. Your Meriweather Bike is worth so much more than its weight in gold, at moments like that. Would a whistle help, or one of those personal alarms? I'm so relieved this story had a happy and safe ending, and Shyla was tucked up safely at home this time.

  18. Wow, that was scary just reading about it. The moose pictures are incredible. Be safe.

    Anne and Sasha

  19. SHE would love to see a moose for real. SHE's been to the North, Alaska, Norway, but alas no moose.

    Although, don't know about a charging moose.

  20. Wow! That was a fun article until the end. It's interesting that she wasn't concerned while eating, then she later turned hostile.

    Good luck!

  21. Your story had us on the edge of our seats! Thank doG you're okay, KB! Your photos are just incredible!

  22. First, fabulous photos! Second, I'd say you kept your head about you quite well in such a scary situation. It sounds like you handled it just right! Thank goodness you are OK!

    Here's my moose tale.....many eons ago, when I was 17 and my sister was 20, we drove across country in her van. I don't remember exactly where we were, possibly Colorado, but we saw a fully-antlered moose in a meadow on the side of the road. We were naive and figured they couldn't be any different than a deer, just bigger. We pulled over and trooped out into the field to get closer pictures. We got quite close. The next thing we know, a big rig pulls over and the driver is running/screaming at us to get away, get away, that thing will kill us! LOL! We had no clue they were dangerous! We were very lucky that day!

  23. Once or twice, I have had Violette come towards me at a canter, and wondered what would happened if she didn't stop in time. Mercifully, it has never happened. I am so glad Lady Moose stopped too!

  24. As soon as I started reading how close they were when you were photographing, and that they didn't move off, I thought "look out!" And I was planning to post a comment right away advising future caution. Guess I don't need to now! ;)
    I've never been approached by a moose, but if they feel threatened, or if it's mating season...well, they really are a big, powerful, surprisingly fast animal. One of my few animal-related concerns is the possibility of surprising a moose when Piper is with me.

    One amazing thing about moose which you may not see due to your forest type, is the way even a big bull with massive antlers can move easily through dense forest. Much like watching an eagle or other large bird glide straight through dense branches, apparently without effort, and not touching a twig.

  25. Holey Moley! scary business, but kind of cool. Thanks for the terrific images and the terrifying story! :-). Stay safe!

  26. Wow! and ooh-me-gawds all at the same time!! Incredible! I do hope the worry never stops you taking such wonderful images and telling us your stories - I love to hear about your wildlife - we just don't have anything like that here! Take care of you and your precious furries :)

  27. Hi KB, I'm never here enough and hope to be back for a longer comment soon, but just a short one to say I'm SO glad you escaped unharmed (and you tell a terrific story)!

  28. OH my pug that was an adventure story for sure! You must be very careful. Those pictures were great, we thought that one looked like that baby moose was smiling at you.
    stella rose

  29. Oh my gosh! Mommy said she would have pee'd her panties if that had happened to her. We are thankful you know how to handle yourself so well in the forest. That was too close of an encounter. While they are very cool characters to look at, we don't like that they were coming after you. We know you'll do a lot of research on the subject now that you know what they are capable of.

    Lily Belle & Muffin

  30. Wow! Great post and fantastic photos of the moose, that mamma was doing what wild mammas do, I have had encounters with deer so wouldn't want one with moose. I'm glad she backed off. Btw I love your new banner :)

  31. YIKES!!!!~! I surely would have peed my pants and more:) YOu got some great shots though. So glad you made it out safely. Now go get that gigantic bell:)

  32. We love seeing moose in their natural environment. So beautiful. That's not Bullwinkle is it?
    Lily & Edward

  33. We love the moose pictures, we have a thing for moose's!!! Such majestic creatures.
    Mr Bailey, Hazel & Mabel

  34. That sure was scary and we are glad you are okay. Loved all the photos!

  35. WOW! Although I love seeing Moose, this encounter was scary. I wonder if you wore a whistle if this would also help. So glad you were calm enough to react in a way that didn't encourage her to charge you.
    Thank you for the info about asking if I can be a passenger in a car...I would have never thought about that. We are going to Estes 3 weeks after my surgery, so I will check on that.
    Sending you hugs.

  36. Oh wow!!! What an adventure of a lifetime, but too close for comfort.
    Your blog started with us feeling the calm in the beautiful skys,, and then we were in panic mode as we read about the charging moose!
    Fantastic photos!
    Yes,, bells or maybe even some mace or hair spray or something!!
    Be careful!

  37. Oh, no! I'm just picturing you swinging your precious bike. I hope your back didn't get hurt from that. I'm so glad you're okay. Those are great photos.

  38. That is such a crazy moose interaction-I am so happy that you were able to scare her off in the end but holy MOLY KB....don't you get squashed! By the way-the baby moose's teethies are just adorable! Much cleaner than Mama's teethies! And Shyla's paw over the face trick and her look afterwards was so cute :) I'm glad you made it home okay and shared the gorgeous photos of the moose! Good luck out there-I know you'll find a way to stay safe! xoxo

  39. So frightening! I agree, a bell for you is in order!

  40. Thanks for linking back to this post. Even though that was a scary experience, I'm really glad you were able to get such awesome moose photos. It's a rare treat I haven't been able to enjoy often since moving from Estes Park back in the late '90s!

  41. Hey KB! I had not read this before...not sure how I missed it...but we have a moose hanging around in our neighborhood at the cottage. I was debating what I was going to do if I ran in to him while riding my scooter! The pics are on my FB page. We are back home now and I have not yet seen any moose around here. They are fascinating to watch and beautiful, but very, very scary if encountered!! Especially if they are charging! So glad you are safe!! Glad that you had your bike with you to throw!


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