Moose Hunting

Finding a Moose in Canada is not as easy as you may think. Talk to anyone who has tried. For a large animal they can be surprisingly elusive, not least because their survival depends upon it; Canada is still a shootin’ huntin’ and fishin’ territory and Moose are high on the menu. Reserves here often have a different slant on conservation. Wildlife is ‘Preserved’ for the marksman. However, we were determined to see the world’s largest member of the deer family and that’s how we found ourselves in the Matane Preserve. This isolated area apparently holds the largest number of Moose per square kilometre in the whole of Canada.

Having driven 60 some Kilometres into the Preserve up rough tracks, that was at times like diving up a scree slope, we had walked into the pine forest and made ourselves comfortable at the side of a small pool. The mud around the water had Moose prints everywhere and there was a big swathe of weed missing from the surface, as though something big had waded through; it looked a good place to sit.

We waited. Minutes turned to hours and the hot sun beat down through the pines and lit the pool in an envelope of light that gradually moved across the water throughout the afternoon. Very little sound broke the silence. This was a silence like I’ve never experienced before; the sheer density of trees absorbing all noises. Every tiny movement we made emitted sounds that were magnified. So intense was the quietness surrounding us we became aware of one another breathing. If we were to see this King of the forest we would need to be quiet.

The silence was broken by the odd bird call. One of which was strangely familiar. As the call was repeated I was taken back some 20 odd years and transported to my home in Norfolk, UK. The tiny ‘toy trumpet’ call was that of a Red breasted Nuthatch. One had turned up at Holkham in October 1989. I had seen (and heard) the species for the first time on that occasion and that occurrence remains the only British record of Red breasted Nuthatch.

Sat here in the forest the small flock of Nuthatches soon found our hiding place and came to investigate. I fired off a few shots, the shutter sounding like a cannon salute through the forest. The birds soon went and once again we returned to our watch… (to be continued)

2 Responses to “Moose Hunting”

  1. Aug 31, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    Every day I hear white- and red-breasted nuthatches. They frequent my wildlife habitats and are a delight to watch, especially the way they scurry up and down trees.

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Aug 2012


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