Monday, February 28, 2011

Montana Mooses - Who You Look'n At?


Driving through part of the Helena National Forest just east of Townsend, Montana two weeks ago on Route US 12 yielded a few surprises. One was a change from no snow to moderate snow on the ground, probably because of the protective forest canopy. The second surprise was the lack of any cars - maybe because its out of the way, late February and the middle of the week. But the third surprise was the best.

What appeared along the side of the road about 30 feet from the vehicle were two large creatures looking for food by a creek. I thought bears at first glance but these two were waaaay too tall. Then I recognized them as moose without antlers. As the 42N team sped by I decided to stop and reverse up the inclined road for a better look at these north woods animals. A 42N team member got out and began to take photos with my camera. The moose then scaled an icy face rock cliff like it was no big deal and hid behind some trees.

My turn with the camera came next. Without much of a telephoto lens I aimed it at the tall chocolate colored creatures now about 60 feet away. They just stood under the cover of the pine trees and watched us. I finished taking some photos and returned to the vehicle.

It occurred to us later that if these two mooses are females or juvenile males the big bull might have been around. That would have been a big surprise to either see the bull or worse, have it charge us. Goes to show us that we were out of our midwestern element. Know that.