I was charged by a cow moose and her calf yesterday. That’s a first for me and it happened on our family property… well, technically adjacent to our property but still, the charge began on our property.
The northern border of our place is a road that runs West to East, eventually climbing its way into a National Forest. Our driveway enters this road and the forest lands start about 2.5 miles beyond our place. I walk or ruck this road regularly to stay in hiking shape and that is what I was doing yesterday when I meet Mrs. Moose.
My walk started with me turning East out of our driveway. I walked less than 100 yards from the end of the driveway. In this area, the woodline is set back from the road anywhere between 20-40 yards to give space for some power lines. Fortunately, this buffer field is at its widest where the charge happened which gave me time to see it happen.
I was walking East when I noticed rustling and caught movement in my peripheral vision to the South in the woodline (my right). Initially, I noticed a moose calf (already much larger than a very large Whitetail Deer) pop out of the woodline at a run directly toward me. It was coming from ahead and to my right. The calf was out first, possibly trying to get out of the way of the cow (which I didn’t know about yet). I am really not sure why it came out first.
I stopped walking and the woodline had my immediate attention. I realized shortly, based on movement, that a large dark spot I could see but wasn’t fully aware of in the woodline was the cow moose. She was coming out quickly through, not around, some smaller Grand Firs that choke this section of our property. She covered half the ground between my position on the road and the woodline in a flash before stopping. It didn’t really even look like a sprint since she slowed to a stop so easily. The elapsed time from when I saw the calf and realized a cow was following to when she stopped, may have been less than a second.
At this point, I am not moving but she has stopped about 20 yards away and is sort of just staring so I shifted my gaze away from her. I am not sure how much of a difference it makes since supposedly moose have terrible eyesight, but I’ve heard you shouldn’t make eye contact… so I didn’t. I just sort of watched below her slightly so I could still see legs and track movement while I started to back away. At some point, while backing away, I drew my Ruger LCR (not enough gun) from a pocket holster and kept it low along the side of my thigh.
The cow took probably no more than 1 or 2 more small steps in my general direction at this point. She was mostly standing in place. Then an S10 Blazer drove past seemingly unaware of the moose since they didn’t slow down. When the Blazer zipped past, the cow turned and stepped back toward the woodline with a start which I took as an opportunity to back up a bit faster. I was out of view of the cow a moment after that because of some low brush and smaller trees between us.
It was exciting, to say the least, but there are also some lessons to be learned.
- Carry a gun. – In this case, I was woefully under-gunned but at least I had access to one. I didn’t need it but I was glad to have it.
- Know the wildlife/threats specific to your area. – I dealt with this moose the way I have rehearsed dealing with a moose. This is something that I have made a point to know about and role-play. We have bears, mountain lions, and moose on our property and wolves nearby. I recommend that you take some time to understand and practice what you would do in an encounter with the dangerous animals in your area.
- Carry your phone. – I always carry my phone on my rucks/walks. I was able to immediately let my family know that there was a jumpy cow moose on the property and to stay away from the area. If the situation was a bit different, it could have been handy for getting help.
I’ll wrap up by pointing something out that I often think about in situations like this. We have active mountain lions on our property… mountain lions that have killed and carried miniature horses and alpacas OUT OF BARNS! We obviously have moose too. We are not unique. There are millions of people living in wild places like this. And a lot of those people are tired of their right to own the firearms they deem appropriate to protect themselves from these animals being questioned by people who live somewhere far away in a place where the wildlife is limited to little critters that eat from dumpsters.