Moose Encounter Season

We’ve had a bit of a moose problem lately, as seems common about this time of year. In many ways, it’s Moose Encounter Season.

Particularly, we’ve had a fairly healthy dump of snow right when the forage for our larger ungulates is scarce. Calves that dropped in mid-summer are quite a bit bigger, and are hungry as they continue to grow.

Moose Calf

The moose calf visits the garden for a solo lunch (Photo: Michelle L. Zeiger).

The first encounter came on January 14th. I was home alone, and about dark, I saw a moose on the rock shelf above me, near the outhouse as I entered the dooryard. I raised a ruckus, but other than sauntering over to the trail, she did little but stare at me. I grabbed a stick and started whacking everything in sight, going a little nuts, eventually convincing her to move on.

Two days later, I happened to be looking out the windows when a moose raced around the corner of the house from left to right. This scared me badly: once before, we had a moose take that same basic path, after which I worried that one of us might someday come the other way when a moose made such a rush. It would be bad, to put it simply.

Shortly after that, Michelle and I watched a “found footage” horror movie one night. I thought she had slept through most of it, but she saw enough of it that when she opened the door to go outside afterward, she let out a bone-chilling shriek when she saw a massive figure eclipse the motion-sensor light in the yard. We both yelled until the moose reluctantly moved off.

For several days after that, we found footprints in the snowy yard and garden most days, and our plants—most noticeably our cherry trees—got browsed back hard. We noticed that some of the tracks seemed a lot smaller than normal . . . .

On the 22nd, a calf came to the homestead alone, kneeled in one of the raised garden beds, and began browsing our cabbages. I took a wooden staff out to chase it off, which I eventually did, but not before it practically walked up to me!

We couldn’t figure out why it seemed alone, after a long, thorough check for the expected mother. I had flashbacks to another calf I’d met (see A Close Encounter).

moose in the yard

Making a mother/daughter day of it. First, enjoy the view, then get lunch (Photo: Michelle L. Zeiger).

The next morning, yesterday, we found out that baby is not alone; mother’s here, dear! They came into the dooryard in the morning, and wandered over to browse the garden again. We went out and yelled until they eventually left.

Moose family in yard

Mom and daughter (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

We react to this differently. Michelle’s rather blasé about it all, while I freak out a little, especially when confronting the adult cow, who seemed rather protective of the calf. She growled at us some, and seemed ready to drive us off before, finally, leaving our homestead. Still, based on past experience, I was rattled (see Charged By a Moose or Music to Annoy the Savage Beast).

They took off up the trail at a trot. I continued shouting for a minute after losing sight of them. But, we don’t think this is over yet . . . .

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2 Responses to Moose Encounter Season

  1. Norma Walston says:

    My sister has found the best way to get rid of any varmints that they don’t want around their house and garden is to set off a few firecrackers that they keep year-round just for that purpose and it works great.

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    Good idea, Norma. We have a stock of fireworks here, but they’re all projectile-style. I also thought of firing a pistol. We can legally buy fireworks here, but have to travel up the river valley to the vendor, which we won’t be able to reach for a while, due to road conditions.

    We have to be careful, whatever we do, though, as we have laws against harassing wildlife, which creates some restrictions on what we can and can’t do to discourage these visits.

    I wanted to fall back on a proven deterrent, vintage Van Halen, but I need batteries for our boom box, and power has been low.

    Charging those up today, just in case . . . .

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