Moose Forensics

By , February 24, 2011

Even now, a couple of days after the fact, I’m still shaking my head over our moose encounter. As I said, things got a little fuzzy there, but I didn’t realize just how fuzzy, until Michelle and I went out yesterday to look over the tracks.

The small amount of snow that filtered through the trees to the ground in our yard has frozen hard. When we first flushed the moose, the mother slipped and skidded on the ice. If an animal that heavy and sure-footed had trouble, you can imagine our conditions. The tracks on the path to the guest house were faint, but visible.

I had been in the house that morning, and had walked out in my house boots. Michelle had put on her hiking boots, so we had no trouble differentiating our tracks. What surprised me was the location of them.


Mama Moose browsing the windbreak in the calm moments before we all began freaking out (Photo: Mark Zeiger).

The whole incident happened much farther down the trail than I’d remembered. I thought I recalled quite clearly that we had been closer to the root cellar when the moose came back up the trail at us. We’d approached quite close before Mama backed us up.

Michelle, behind me, saw things a bit more clearly. Her trackway showed that she had hid in a little cove off the trail. She would have been cornered had the moose gone in there, but she was fairly safe. Would that I had been in there with her.

I found where I had, in my memory, “ducked off the trail.” In fact, I had moved a half step off the path, pretty much behind a spindly hemlock sapling. I could easily have brushed the moose’s side with my hand as she passed! This supports a new theory: she didn’t intend to kill me (Proof #1: I am not dead) but was trying to draw us away from her calf.

The route they’d taken to the guest house is a common one for moose. There’s a short cliffy slope on the other side of the building, which moose have no trouble climbing. A frozen seep there has made it slick, and the mother may have felt trapped against it in her panic. That might have made her rush us, then head up the main trail, hoping we’d follow while her calf climbed the slope at a slower pace. Her fear is indicated by the copious urine sprays on the trail. Seems none of us were calm and collected . . . .

Aly recently read me a study that indicates that our subconscious mind can see about 3 seconds into the future. My second most vivid memory of the incident, after the moose growling as she came at me, is of her raising her hoofs to stomp me. This second incident apparently did not happen (see Proof #1 above) but I still have that memory. If the study Aly cited is correct, this could mean that in the next future over, I got stomped!

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