Image may be subject to copyright

How to find a moose

And other tales about the huge mega deer that inhabits forests of the north
Given the stature of an adult moose, one would think they would be easy to find. Moose evolved to blend in to their surroundings very well, however, and seeing a moose during a visit to the Northern Rockies is not a sure thing. 

You never know though. My wife, Chris, and I were camping along Prune Creek in the Bighorns once, and after setting up camp and cooking a hearty supper, Chris said "Let's go find a moose!" I secretly smirked at her naivety as we started walking down the creek. Five minutes later though, we were face to face with a young male moose across the creek from us. We sat down in the grass by the creek and tried to put out non-threatening vibes while he browsed on some shrubs along the creek. After a few minutes, he got tired of being watched and ran across the creek toward us and hid in some willows beside us. Was it beginner's luck or woman's intuition that led us directly to the moose? I assured Chris it was the latter.

Below left:  moose crossing Prune Creek toward us.  Below right:  The cow that we almost missed, hiding around a corner of the trail

Image may be subject to copyright
Image may be subject to copyright
Sometimes it pays to look behind you. In the Tetons we went around a corner on the trail in Boulder Canyon where some folks seemed to be just standing, looking at something. We looked over our shoulders and this girl was giving us a stare. 
The unpredictability of a moose was demonstrated to us alongside a road in Alaska. We slowed our truck down for the moose, who appeared totally flummoxed as to what it should do next. It took a step then changed directions maybe five times before finally deciding to go back into the woods.

At Riley Creek Campground in Denali, we encountered a mama moose who was a bit tired of the whole motherhood thing. She and her calf would arrive in the campground (the wolf loop, as I recall) early in the evening and she would drop her calf off between campsites for us campers to babysit while she went off wandering down the road. The calf would lie in the grass and give us sweet looks, unconcerned about the disappearance of her mother.

Below left: Mama heading out on a Friday night.  Below right:  Calf between campsites
Anyway, moose are never far away from water and in Glacier moose can be found around ponds or streams all over the park in the low country and in mid-elevation woods and meadows. Look for tracks and piles of moose poop. Areas with a high density of moose will have A LOT of poop laying around. In the winter, moose tend to decrease their range a bit and their preferred areas will have so much poop you have to really watch your step. In February a few years ago, we were backcountry skiing just north of Highway 2 in the far southeast corner of the park and were encountering all kinds of moose tracks and poop. A short time later, Chris spotted a dip in the snow with two big ears sticking out of it. We had literally stumbled upon the lair of the moose!  (Sometimes in midwinter, a moose will burrow in the snow and hang out in its hole for a few days).

Moss Mountain Inn has a resident moose in the winter but he doesn't keep the same hours we do and our dogs keep him from drifting into photo range. After a fresh snow though, we will see the tracks and know that she is hanging out in the woods nearby.
 Below left:  Just the ears!  Below right: Moose at Moss Mountain a few years ago
Image may be subject to copyright