By Mike Willis
I love speaking with people who spend little time in the outdoors and hearing their understanding of what is lurking out there.
I especially get a little chuckle when I hear people ask, “aren’t you scared of bears?” Or better yet, “aren’t you worried a mountain lion’s going to devour you?”
When I explain to people that those are the least of my worries, I usually get the little tilted-head look. It reminds me of what my dog does when he doesn’t understand what I want him to do.
Most people who haven’t spent extended time in the true wilderness are typically taken aback by the claim that moose are indeed the biggest threat to hunters in the woods.
Before you blow off Bullwinkle, think again! These timber tyrants have been harassing hunters for decades. I can assure you that they are unimpressed by your little bells and “hey bear” calls as you trek through their back yard.
Bears will typically do everything they can to avoid an encounter with you. A bull moose is usually irritated by you being in their territory, and they want to do everything they can to make you aware of their presence.
When these 1000-pound creatures stand their ground on your path to the truck, you will rethink which animal out there commands your respect the most.
During my time in the woods, I have encountered countless bears and even been followed by a mountain lion for several miles. None of these encounters have made me as uncomfortable as when I have stood toe-to-toe with a bull moose during the rut or a cow moose accompanied by her young.
I have been chased three times.
I have stood my ground against the charging bull. As it closed the gap, I stared through my rifle scope, setting my sights on its antler, thinking I might have to ring its bell.
I’m guessing right about now you are saying to yourself, “I would have shot and killed a moose that chased me.” Please, read on.
Idaho Fish and Game (and many other state agencies) has ingeniously written a law that prohibits individuals from shooting animals in self-defense without having to consider the consequences of their actions seriously. Let me explain. If you shoot an animal on top of a mountain in self-defense, you are required to backpack said animal meat out of the woods and place it gently onto the back of the game warden’s truck. It is THERE that he or she will take the report.
Now it’s great knowing that this backwoods bully is going to feed the mouths of a needy family. But let me assure you, the moose will make you question whether being mauled is less painful than carrying him off the mountain on your back.
Every year I attempt to draw a moose tag so that I can settle the score in a personal vendetta that I have with a moose on a nearby mountain. This moose made me run for my life much farther than I care to disclose in an open forum, such as a national website.
Next time you see the proud moose standing there, in all of his majestic glory, remember this article. Observe the air about him, as if he is part of some protected class, which deems him untouchable. His provoking gestures will taunt you to cross that line.