Sunday, June 1, 2014

Mama Moose...A Hair-Raising Encounter

It began innocently enough. Two days ago we decided to check out the recently opened Pioneer Scenic By-Way. We stopped at Blue Crick and took a hike, noting once again the awesome power of spring runoff which had turned the usual step-across crick into a roaring tea-colored torrent in some places 20 or more feet wide. We also noted what seemed to us an abnormal amount of moose sign--tracks and droppings. Evidently several moose were using the area but in two hours we saw nary a one and...Well, it being spring calving time and all to us that was a good thing.

After stopping on the divide for lunch we decided to drop down into the Wise River valley and check out Lacey Crick--in recent years our best spot for sighting Mama Bear and her newborn offspring. The past two springs at about same time in May we have done just that in the exact same spot. Hoping for "three times a charm" instead we came way too damn close to "Three Strikes, YOU ARE OUT!"

Parking at the trail head we walked over to the crick, decided way too high to even think of continuing up the trail we turned and headed into the woods--me leading the way, Gale close behind and Annie bounding about, mostly off to our right, doing what Annie does best checking out and categorizing all the many smells we haven't a clue.

Fifty yards or so in is a wall of willows surrounding a minor trickle and...You guessed it, a moose.

Busily engaged browsing the willows the moose paid us nothing more than a cursory glance between bites.

Her apparent nonchalance noted, in my infinite wisdom I whispered to Gale, "See the moose?"


"It's a cow but a small one, probably last year's calf."

Just then Annie came bounding by and...BAM!!!

HERE SHE COMES and...the proverbial ALL HELL breaks loose and the race is on.

Gale is running like no 69 year old has any right to...I  too run, but stop here and there bellowing useless and nonsensical obscenities at the moose; screaming at Annie "Run Baby Run" who at the moment is getting MM's utmost attention; hair standing on end, porcupine like, roaring (yes roaring, the most ungodly, frightening sound imaginable, one I never would have dreamed a cow moose capable), lunging and striking at the dog with her forefeet. How the hell Annie managed to dodge the blows is more than I know?

Now Gale is at the truck screaming for me open the truck doors. With the clicker already in hand I am punching the unlock button frantically. But apparently still beyond its range the doors remain locked. Annie, smart Annie, is circling the truck using it as a shield but of course the ploy also puts poor Gale just that much closer to harm's way. At some point the clicker works and Gale is able to hop in..

Meantime, as I pass the toilet MM suddenly turns her rage from the dog toward me. I turn and try to get the toilet between us and...TRIP! Stumbling over the rocks down I go...Me thinks a goner for sure.

But apparently just then Annie reappears and MM swaps ends and charges after the dog....Whew!

Fagged, out of air and scared shitless (especially now for Annie's life) I scramble to my feet, somehow make the truck, open the back door  hoping Annie can somehow separate and hop in...How many times MM and the dog pass by me is also more than I know but at least once MM is close enough for me to easily touch, not that I ever entertained such a move, mind you.

Anyway, with the melee about as out of control as one can get, Gale, obviously way more clear headed, thinks to blow the horn and...MM stops in her tracks, Annie somehow sees her chance hops in the back seat, I stumble around the truck hop in the passenger seat and...MM turns and trots past the toilet and disappears into the trees..

At last ended, without a doubt the most harrowing few moments ever in a long life communing nature as it were mentally drained, physically bruised and sore but otherwise none the worse for wear, we can laugh about it now but trust me, I for one intend to do my best to make damn sure never again. As Gale put it, "at our age even on our best day Mama Moose is in total control; only this time Lady Luck saved our butts...not much chance she'd be able (or willing) to pull it off again?"



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