A Month of Moose

We’ve been dealing with moose invaders for a month now! The cow and calf that started hanging out in our yard have been back periodically since January 16th. To say it’s gotten old is to understate the situation.

I haven’t kept a running account here on the homestead blog, but some highlights include them bedding down on the property repeatedly, and the day the cow charged me.

moose bedded down in yard

It’s a poor exposure, but here’s Mama Moose, bedded down in our front yard one morning. Our various lights lit her up much better than the low-light exposure (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

Our firewood supply continues to dwindle. When I’m alone on the homestead, I find it difficult to venture out to cut more, because of the possibility of running into moose. I finally told myself to stop being such a coward, grabbed a bow saw, and headed up the trail.

I first saw Mama Moose coming toward me several yards down the trail. I started yelling at her, trying to scare her away. She saw me, stopped, sized me up, and apparently decided she could take me, because she continued to approach. I stepped up onto the hill above the trail to try to make myself look bigger. She got close, then charged!

Now, I did some research on Sitka black tail deer before posting about the deer that came into our compound (see “There Are No Deer Here”) and got side tracked by some articles on moose. The most chilling one taught me that moose can kick in any direction, 360°, and do it on the fly, meaning that allowing a moose to pass too close as it goes by can be dangerous as well! So, I continued to raise hell, while holding my bow saw between us as a pitiful last defense. At the last possible second, she veered off the trail, and ran away.

Of course, I obsessed hard about the incident, trying to analyze what went wrong. I now feel that the hat I wore may have been part of the problem. It’s not camouflage, technically, but it did likely blend into my surroundings, so I lost about 3 inches of height, and probably looked very strange to the moose. I’ve been careful to wear solid colors in the forest since then.

Early one morning, Michelle rose first and visited the front yard for a necessary trip. I followed suit about 5 minutes later, and practically ran into the calf’s rear end just outside the door! We checked the windows, and soon found that the pair had bedded down on the other side of our long-suffering cherry tree in the front yard! I played them a little classic rock, and they grudgingly left. But, that encounter set the tone for the day. I’d found them bedded down on “Lover’s Lane,” the trail to Aly’s cottage one morning. That’s more of a problem since Aly has moved back into the cottage after the most recent cold snap.

Thanks to everyone for your various repelling strategies. I have yet to fire my pistol in an effort to drive them off, but I’m getting close to that extreme. Playing Van Halen (paid link) at loud volume works pretty well, and we’ve figured out other techniques that are showing good results. I won’t detail those here, preferring to plead the fifth. We all carry bear spray when we move around the peninsula. An occasional neighbor, a wildlife expert, says it works great against moose.

I actually downloaded the Alaska Fish & Game form that we fill out to explain why we took steps to defend life and property. While I feel more justified in taking drastic action in defense of life and property after getting charged, I don’t like the rule that you must process the meat, then hand it over to the state. Like I need to add butchering and hauling a half-ton animal to the list of chores that is already impacted by the moose presence!

moose calf

Of course, the moose calf came mooching the snowy afternoon I wrote this post. She’s watching me watch her from the front porch. Look at her ribs! We acknowledge that a possible reason they’re invading our property is that they’re starving.  (Photo: Michelle L. Zeiger).

We’re concerned that the cow might be pregnant. The calf will soon get run off. We don’t want the cow to drop that new calf on our property—a bad situation would definitely turn for the worse!

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