Yesterday afternoon, I prepared to walk Michelle home from work. I brought down my hunting rifle and loaded it, strapped my best headlamp to my forehead, and grabbed the fog horn from its nail near the front door.
I carried the rifle as a last-resort back up to the fog horn, which would be doing the heavy lifting on this trip, should it become necessary. Hopefully, I wouldn’t need either, but I felt better having them than going without.
As I’ve said before, we do things a bit differently on “the homestead.”
I don’t always gear up like this for a hike across the ridge, but Michelle had encountered moose on the trail that morning, and the night before on the way home. There’s an old joke that says “just because your’e paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.” Her “moosey” feeling from a while back had proven accurate.
She crossed paths with a moose Wednesday night on her way home. She couldn’t scare it off the trail, so she detoured around it, and got a bit turned around traveling cross country through the woods. I’d almost decided to go and meet her; if I had, I would have missed her entirely, and probably would have run into the moose as well.
On Thursday morning she encountered a yearling moose calf at the top of the slope in the trail Aly had dubbed “‘Druther Not.” She chased it off by speaking to it. When she started down the slope, the calf’s mother and Michelle saw each other at the same moment. The moose started toward her immediately. Michelle quickened her pace and continued on down the trail, listening for the cow’s approach behind her. She made it to the bay without further incident, but she asked if I felt like walking her home that evening. It seemed like a fine idea to me!
We assume the cow moose she encountered is the same one that charged me a couple of years ago. She seems to have learned that the direct approach works best with pesky humans. That’s why I lugged my rifle along. Shooting a moose out of season would mean big trouble; I’d be justified if she charged, but i’d have to undergo an investigation before being cleared. I think i’d also have to dress the animal out and haul the meat to town to turn in to authorities. Still, better that inconvenience than getting tromped by an angry moose.
Luckily, we had no gun play last night. I saw plenty of tracks on the way out, but no moose. Coming home, our conversation probably helped clear the path.
Michelle was grateful for my presence, but a little embarrassed to have asked. She assured me she wouldn’t ask me to escort her home again, “unless we get bears.”
When we awoke this morning, we found the cherry trees cropped severely. The moose have remembered our generous buffets from previous years. Time to get out the dryer sheets.