Posts Tagged ‘Moose


Moose Hunting (Part 2)

I’d not been truly confident of seeing Moose. Of all the things we had pegged out to see Moose was the most incidental; a ‘perhaps’ species during our visit to Quebec. Sat here in the forest of the Matane Refuge half dozing in the heat I consoled myself that I was at least catching up on a little rest. A six hour time adjustment flying from Heathrow was taking its toll.

A crack of a branch alerted me. I nudged Sharon. Nothing! Then as I refocused my gaze through the trees I could see a shape. It was like one of those hidden pictures where you can’t initially see what you’re looking at. A dark shape materialised. Where it came from I don’t know but there it was, some 30 metres away. Right there, still and alert. Two things struck me; How dark it was and how big it was. I had hope for a female at best maybe with a calf if we were lucky. No, this was a big male sporting full headgear. I don’t know if I whispered it to Sharon or myself but I remember quietly saying ‘It’s a dinosaur’

I fired off a shot or two; hardly daring to move. This may be my only chance. Then it moved. Not away from us but closer to the pool. Closer to us. He walked slowly hardly making a sound. A few paces at a time then froze as he held his head alert listening for any telltale sounds of danger. He slowly came to the edge of the pool and began to drink … and drink … and drink. I expected him to leave but no he moved closer to us wading out into the water and into the late afternoon sun drenching the pool from the canopy above. He was now just 10 metres away and we held our breath for what seemed like an age. Each time I took a series of shots he could obviously hear the shutter but perhaps tolerated our intrusion so desperate was he to quench his thirst. All told we had watched him for around 20 minutes before he urinated (at length) and then slowly moved away back into the forest.

What a magnificent animal. Those 20 minutes are, and will remain, an imprinted memory that will never leave me.


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)

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Mar 2023


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