I’ve been wanting to get a daytime sighting and photo of a bull Moose for a few years now but have only caught them in fleeting moments at dusk and dawn.
Finally, this fall, I got a tip from a friend about where I might spot one easily so drove to Cape Breton under the promise of a sunny weather forecast.
The next morning, I woke up in Pleasant Bay and it was pea soup foggy. The forecast is often wrong for the highlands where bad weather tends to prevail and I drove up to the trail where it was even foggier, and misting. Spent an hour on the trail with my biggest lens in hand. No luck. Talked to the Parks Canada guy who was out and about on a 4-wheeler he had also not spotted any moose that morning. He mentioned it was supposed to clear up later in the morning, so I decided to make the best of things and I took a drive up to Danena’s in Dingwall for strong coffee and sweet treats. Drove back and checked the trail again after that still no good weather, and no moose, so meandered around Cheticamp for a few hours to practice landscape photography. It still didn’t clear up.
By mid-afternoon any optimism I had for an appearance by the sun had disappeared. So, I stuck my 400mm under my rain poncho (lighter than my 600mm), to make my final search for the day.
I could hardly see my hand in front of my face after walking up and down the trail for about an hour and had pretty much given up and was heading for the car.
The trail was mostly wide-open barrens, but there was a short stretch with trees on either side and as I entered that stretch, there he was peering at me through the corridor about 20 feet away. I was so scared I almost fainted. I thought well why on earth did I wish for this? All alone with a bull Moose sporting a big rack in rutting season, not smart Angela!
The night before I had researched moose behavior so that if I did get into a dicey situation, I would know what to do. With bears and coyotes, you are supposed to be on the offensive. Make noise, act big, be a threat.
If you do that with moose, you are going to get attacked for sure. The only thing you can do is what I did, nothing. Well and if they charge you run like hell and look for cover…gulp.
He looked right into my eyes, then simply turned around and wandered off. Since safety was my first priority, I did not take a photo when he was facing me as wonderful as that may have been.
As he turned away though, I did get my favorite wildlife shot of all time.
The 15 or so minute walk back to the car was fairly unnerving as he had simply disappeared into the fog and the trail was full of fresh hoof prints, but it didn’t take long before I was smiling.
It may not have been the shot I wanted, but it was an experience I’ll never forget!