A Moose Encounter


What scares a moose? A bigger moose? A bear?A mountain lion?

I’d heard that moose are ornery. Many experienced outdoors people say they’re more afraid of moose than anything else out there. When I spotted a young cow moose at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge, I was cautious and respectful. I stayed next to my car and waited for her to reappear between tree trunks as she grazed in the coniferous woodland. She was relaxed, never altering her behavior due to my presence. And she was a lone cow moose. Surely, the bulls and cows with calves are the ones to be especially wary of. I would afford her the same consideration I give to deer and elk.

To my left was a hill. If I walked along the road away from the moose, I could follow a wildlife trail through the hip-high willows up to the top of this rise. I would be the same distance from the moose but have a much clearer view. I kept my eye on her as I quietly relocated to a large ponderosa pine, which I would use as a blind. She knows I’m here and doesn’t seem to care.

Acknowledging my presence.

The bugs are bothering her, and she keeps shaking her massive head. She’s cartoonishly rubbery – ears, chin, lips and dewlap distorted in all directions.

I watched her and photographed her for about five minutes when she abruptly alerted: head up and erect, ears perked forward.  She’s staring intently into the woods, away from me, her back to the road. Then she wheels around as if gliding on air, moving surprisingly quickly toward the road. She’s only trotting but rapidly covering ground, floating through the thick willows that I couldn’t walk through.I’m struck by her speed. And scared. She’s closer than I’m comfortable with. She stopped between me and my car, looking back over her shoulder toward whatever it was she sensed in the woods. I look to move away from her down the steep hill and back to the road when she turns and starts walking in my direction parallel to the road. Now, my only option to give her space is to move away from the trees, which provide my only defense should things go bad. She seems to want to come up the path that I took to my spot on the hill. I cannot yield the path without making myself more vulnerable. She’s walking past my path, and as she gets close, I peer around the tree trunk and think she’s surprisingly big for a yearling cow! She’s continuing parallel to the road and moving away from me now. My heart rate begins to return to normal as I scramble down the incline and head back to the safety of my car. Another vehicle had just pulled up.  “Did you see that moose that just crossed the road?” they inquired. Did I ever!!Moose I waited in my car a bit to see if whatever had scared her away might appear. She took that secret with her. Whether it was the wind or a credible threat, I’ll never know. I saw her grazing deeper in the woods when I passed on down the road. It’s amazing how well such a big animal can blend into the background.

Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge is always good for a wander. After my moose encounter, I lingered among spring wildflowers.

Fields of Camas lilies
Camas Lily

And watched the migrating waterfowl dabble and preen.

Trumpeter Swan, Widgeons, and Redhead ducks

The songbirds were busy belting out their courtship tunes and chasing after airborne insects.

Turnbull is always worth a visit if you’re in the area. It often delivers wild encounters that feed my soul.

If you’re interested in purchasing or licensing any images you see here, please email me at SNewenham at exploringnaturephotos.com, and I’ll make it happen.

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3 Replies to “A Moose Encounter”

  1. I love the Cinnamon teal ducks, definitely the color of cinnamon. Glad you were able to calm your heart with the beauty of the flowers and calm animals and birds.

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