"A foggy morning with a Moose"
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2019
Earlier this week my friend Paul and I went out early in the hopes that we could call a moose in and photograph it. Little did we know how lucky we would end up getting! I met Paul at 6:00 AM in downtown Grand Marais and we drove about 30 minutes up into the woods to a location that he had scouted out previously. The morning was unbelievably beautiful, with a thick blanket of fog covering the landscape.
We made it to the spot that Paul had scoped out just as the sun would have been rising (had we been able to see it). We found a good spot to call from just about 75 feet away from my Jeep. We set up with a very dense stand of trees at our backs, just in case we needed to retreat into some cover should any potential moose approach really aggressively. We marveled at the beauty of the scene laid out before us. The fog made for an element of mystique that had to be experienced to be fully appreciated. Trying to describe it would never do it justice. As Paul began calling, we were amazed at the way the sound echoed through the forest. The incredibly still morning made for perfect calling conditions.
We called for an over an hour in this first location with no luck. At one point we did hear some antlers crashing through the woods some distance behind us, but only for a moment and we never heard them again. Eventually we decided to head further up the ridge into another clearing to try again. Along the way we found a couple of interesting things to photograph. During these stops Paul did some more calling but we didn't hear or see any moose. As we pulled into the second clearing, we were met with a majestic stand of pine trees to our right. This made for another obvious photo stop.
At this point we were sure we weren't going to see any moose, so we were much less careful about how much noise we were making. We closed the doors on the Jeep as we normally would and their sound echoed with authority across the meadow. As we walked out into the clearing between the Jeep and the pines, we were conversing in our normal tone of voice. At one point I mentioned that this would probably be a good spot for northern lights, thinking the trees would look awesome in the foreground with the aurora dancing overhead. I told Paul I was going to walk to the right a bit to make sure it would line up well for something like that. As I started walking away Paul said he was going to do some more moose calling "just for the heck of it".
By now we were a couple of hundred feet away from our vehicle. I wandered off about 150 feet or so away from Paul, as he began doing the moose call again. I stopped to photograph a young white pine about 4 feet tall in the foreground, with the older tall pines in the background. As I stood back up after taking my picture, I started to walk back towards Paul and as I did so I thought I caught some slight movement in my peripheral vision. I looked to the right and after a couple seconds I realized a bull moose had come out of the woods and was making its way across the meadow in front of the large pines! I couldn't believe it... I motioned to Paul and tried to tell him in my loudest whisper "There's a moose over there!". He responded "WHAT?" I raised my finger "Shhhhh.... " then pointed and whispered loudly again "There's a moose over there!!!!" He looked, saw it and even from 150 feet away I could see his eyes bulging in disbelief.
We then both walked as quickly and quietly as we could back to the car. Once we returned to the car we both started taking picture after picture as the moose continued to slowly make his way through the meadow. Eventually he ended up right on the edge of the road just ahead of us. I don't know about Paul but I know my hands were shaking from excitement as I was taking pictures. I didn't think any of my photos were going to turn out because the light was so low due to the fog. Paul kept calling intermittently to keep the moose from leaving. And he hung around for what felt like 10 minutes. It probably wasn't that long, but it was a while. And he was totally chill. He took his time, making his way around deliberately but slowly. Every time Paul called, the moose would stop and look our way, but never came too close. Eventually he wandered slowly off back into the woods. The rest of the morning our talk centered around our disbelief of how lucky we were.
Even after that encounter, we saw a few other moose as well. Just minutes after leaving the meadow we drove further up the road and saw a second, even larger bull. This one was with a female. They were both standing in the middle of the road but as soon as we saw each other they ran up the road and disappeared into the fog. We only saw them for a few seconds. A little while later we saw a 4th moose, but we both suspect this one was the first one we saw and that we were just seeing it again a little further up the road. We saw him cross the road in front of us and disappear into the thick brush.
It was a morning that neither of us will ever forget. Of all the time spent in the woods NOT seeing what you are hoping to see, every now and then you do hit the jackpot and this was certainly one of those jackpot times!
Camera: Sony DSC-RX10M3
Focal Length: 56mm
Exposure Time: 1/500