Animal encounters

8:19 p.m. on February 22, 2009 (EST)
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Since I promised elsewhere (right, Alicia?) that I'd share the story of a cow moose and calf that together tested my emergency hormonal alarm systems, here it is. Feel free to share your own, too.

On a backpacking trip to the Bitterroot Mountains several years ago, a solo trip like many of mine, I was on my final day, heading back to the trailhead, and came to a trail section that crossed about a seventy-yard wide talus field.

As I got about two-thirds of the way across, bouncing merrily along under a pack much ligther than I'd started with, under a beautiful blue sky, and anticipating an ice-cold Coke whilst seated on a sofa (ah, luxury!) in a few hours, I heard a noise up ahead. The noise sounded like it was that of a good-sized branch breaking.

My first thought was that whatever broke said branch itself had to be pretty good-sized just to do so. My second thought, racing through my mind and trampling on the first in its rush, was that whatever it was didn't care about making noise.

The third thought, which made the second one seem laggardly in comparison, raced into my brain and bounced around off the insides of my cranium with ringing noises, shouting, "Grizzy country! This is grizzly country, moron! Bears! Big ones! Ursus horribilis, you twit! It could be--"

At this point, I saw a large brown-black shape pushing its way up through the undergrowth on the downhill side of the trail just a short distance into the trees beyond the talus. Cognition ceased, and I froze. Thank goodness the eyes are directly connected to the brain, because all other systems had gone into emergency shut-down.

I stood and watched as the shape got bigger and bigger, stretching well above ground level. As the more rudimentary mental faculties resumed, I reached for the buckle on my pack belt, figuring I'd likely be ditching my pack soon. It was then that the creature turned and looked at me.

It was a moose. I breathed again, for the first time in what seemed hours, and exhaled in a heavy release against pursed lips. The moose stepped into the path, and I relaxed, figuring both moose and I would soon be on our separate ways.

Then the calf appeared. In light of the calf's entrance onto the scene, the cow's demeanor, which I'd taken at first to be simply a slight surliness based on my intrusion into what the moose figured wasn't really the right sort of country for a furless biped, took on a more ominous shade. Stories of hikers, hunters, and professional wrestlers being kicked, stomped, and trampled into soggy red puddles came tearing into my mind, full of apologies about being late to the party.

I froze again. Watching me much as one might expect of a suspicious mother who outweighs the apparent threat to her offspring by several hundred pounds, the cow glared at me while the young calf lumbered across the path and up into the trees. After the calf cleared the trail, the cow lifted one hoof, as if to remind me of how big her foot was, and how easily it could be used to pound me into pulp, and then thumped it back onto the trail. I took her message to be one of "You wait there for a bit while I go on over there with my young one. Don't come any closer, don't do anything to make me any more suspicious, and we'll all survive this just fine. But you go near my calf, and you're gonna become part of these mountains, buster."

I waited. I waited for a good long bit, just in case a short bit wasn't enough, and then I waited a bit more. Finally, I hitched up my pack and resumed my journey on down the trail. As I passed the point where mom and child had crossed, I looked off into the trees. There, about thirty yards away, was the cow, staring back at me, standing amongst some bushes. The calf wasn't visible. I waved, called out a cheery "Hi, there. Don't mind me. Just going on down the trail, away from you and junior. Going on home to supper. Promise not to even consider eating an ungulate for the next week. Thinking of becoming a vegetarian, actually."

In the event, I passed on down the trail, and the moose receded from sight. Not much of an experience, in some ways, I suppose, but enough to remind me of both the dangers and unexpected nature of things when dealing with nature on its own terms.

9:24 p.m. on February 22, 2009 (EST)
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When you're the one standing there with the creature, it is extremely real isn't it? I got to share a stream with a bear once, one minute I was wading by myself, then there was a bear in the water watching me, the first thing I thought was I'm not going anywhere fast in waist deep water. I backed out slowly, the bear remained still.

Then all your friends say: If it was me I'd have........

Yeah Right!

10:26 p.m. on February 22, 2009 (EST)
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Perry what a great story. It actually reminds me of when I was at Philmont Scout Ranch. I was headed across a field to a windmill powered water pump. I was was looking out ahead at one of the most beautful sunset when I noticed a large silouette in the field. We had just come through a staffed camp the night before where they had been trying to catch a bear to move it to a more remote location. Needless to say I froze. I think I went through all the same feelings that you descrbed in your post. As I got my eyes to focus on the shape, I find a large bull buffalo. He look at me and I looked at him for what seemed like forever. He finally decided I was not a threat to him and decided to go back to eating grass. It was then that I remebered That my disposaable camera was in my pocket. I snapped a couple pictures and stood there marveling at this huge beautiful creature. I think he after about 15 to 20 minutes he got tired of my company and decided to head off.

I will try to find the pictures and post them but I think they were lost in a move about 10 years ago.

Thanks for your post, I have not thought of that experience in years!

6:51 a.m. on February 23, 2009 (EST)
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Walking to McKerricher state park from my apartment at dusk. In the woods to my left I kept hearing a noise that was making me uncomfortable. At the bottom of the hill just before the park entrance I was freaked out enough that I turned around and started to head home. The lights from a southbound car illuminated a large mountain lion crossing the road on the hill behind me. The walk home seemed much longer than the walk out as I kept repeating to myself not to run, don't act like prey, don't run, etc. I probably would have peed myself except that the required gear was trying to crawl back into my body.


The next day on my ride home through the park (cycling along the haul road is much safer than HWY1 was between my place and town) I told a ranger about the encounter. It seems that they knew about the lion because it had been taking pets from local yards and deer from the area. I no longer have a desire to see one of these animals up close and in the wild. :)

9:44 a.m. on February 23, 2009 (EST)
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Back when I was at Philmont, my crew was at one of the distant manned outposts, and the staff of the outpost was putting on a kind of entertainment show for us. We were all sitting in folding chairs or on benches, and they were up on the porch of the lodge doing skits, singing etc.

All the sudden, they all started screaming and running out into the "audience", which we thought was part of some skit. Turns out there was a bear RIGHT behind the back row of people. We all turned around to see the rest of the skit and instead saw a bear hauling ass out of camp.

1:53 p.m. on February 23, 2009 (EST)
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I've enjoyed reading this thread. Thanks for the sharing the original story, Perry. It reminds me of the following:

About eight years ago I took a wilderness first aid course in western Maine. One exercise we did was set up mock emergencies. In this case I was a victim of a moose trampling. I got bruises and black and blue hoof marks painted on me and lay with my fellow "victims" near the trail, moaning. Our fellow students had to come along, figure out what was wrong, and treat us accordingly.

We were all back at our campsite later that day, lauging and talking about the day's events when suddenly there was the sound of something large coming straight for our camp. Everyone looked up to see a moose walk straight into our camp, see about 10 dumbfounded people, and then turn around and hightail it back out. I've seen a fair number of moose, but this one always stands out.

Until you're up close with something big like that, even a young moose, you never know what you'll do. This fall there was a moose that occasionally hung out on a camp road I ran down. Twice I was running down the hill and around the corner and headed straight for it before it registered what it was. I couldn't get around it without making it suspicious, so I'd have to hang out and just wait.

Continuing in the moose vein, when my dad was young and in the Air Force in Alaska, he and some buddies got treed by a very angry mother moose. As a little kid I thought it sounded neat to get that close to a moose, but my dad would tell me how dangerous it really had been. Of course, as a kid, I just thought it was more exciting.

My personal favorite animal encounter occurred in Jasper, Alberta. It was early evening and I was reading in the tent. We were in a great private spot along the Athabasca River, but there were also RV spots by the main entrance. I kept hearing a dog yapping and was wondering when someone would shut their pet up.

I left the tent to walk along the river to the bathrooms and a girl stopped me and said, "did you see them!" Huh? "The wolves!" Apparently it wasn't some dog yapping, or even a coyote, but a mother wolf and her two yipping and yapping cubs were walking along the opposite shore of the river. It was truly amazing to watch them for many long minutes, until they eventually headed up an access road across the river from our tent site. That was my best encounter by far.

2:38 p.m. on February 23, 2009 (EST)
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Wow, I envy you the wolf encounter, Alicia. Esp. with the river between you and the wolves!

I'll admit that the bigger part of the scare for me in the scene above occurred when i was thinking "BEAR!", rather than "BIG MOMMA MOOSE!" Since I'd frozen at about the same time she saw me (I think), I figured I didn't seem an active threat, at any rate. And I was more than happy to keep a respectful distance.

dm133, your mention of the mountain lion reminds of the several times I've found tracks of a lion (sometimes definitely so, other times only maybe, but...) out in the backcountry. One of those episodes actually occurred on the same trip I mention above.

I had camped about a hundred yards or so from a small sub-alpine lake. In the morning I was up and ambling about a little bit whilst working out the morning stiffness and downing a cup o' joe when I came across some tracks in mud right at the water's edge. Big tracks, about the size of a pancake, and obviously feline. When I realized what they were, I immediately engaged my patent-pending rapid-action swivel-head action and stood and scanned the surrounding area.

I never saw the cat, but with the tracks no more than 120 yards or so from my camp, which was easily seen from where the tracks were, I'm sure the lion knew of my presence.

Reminds me of the saying, I think it was attributed to Bob Marshall himself, "It's not wilderness unless there's something out there that can eat you."

Although some (notably among them, my mother) think I'm more than a little nuts to go into such areas alone, I treasure such trips and moments like these. The risks are greater, without a doubt, but so are the rewards. Developing, honing, and testing wilderness skills and coming out successful is a great feeling, for one. Another is that I simply see, hear, smell, and feel so much more when I'm alone than when I'm part of a group. Even just one other person increases both the amount of interruption accompanying me into the wilderness and requires me to pay a fair amount of attention to what they're saying, doing, whatever instead of what's around me. Make it a group ofmore than three or four, and it becomes in effect two or more groups tramping through the woods, and ya might as well be singing barroom ditties, too.

6:49 p.m. on February 23, 2009 (EST)
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I'm a cat lover that has seen mountain lions in captivity, seen tracks in the woods and used to think it would be cool to see one up close! I still love 'em but don't care much for the idea of being stalked. Sharks were also a pretty common occurence in CA. Mendocino County is just north of the infamous red triangle and it was not uncommon to see sharks while underway or while surfing. We also had one fatal shark attack while I was stationed there. All in all I'm more concerned about lions (I'm heading back to the same unit I was at in NorCal) than sharks. Sharks usually take one bite, realize you aren't a sea lion or seal and then spit you out!

Did anybody see the episode of Survivorman where Les simulated a canoeing accident in Ontario in late fall? He had to hike out to the nearest highway. At one point he got seriously freaked out because he thought that they moose he had spotted was either in rut or a female. I've seen wolf and moose tracks here in Michigan but haven't been lucky enough to see one live yet.

7:14 p.m. on February 23, 2009 (EST)
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I did see that episode, It was a good one. I like Les's show, it's more down to earth than other shows like it.

8:45 p.m. on February 23, 2009 (EST)
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Man vs. Wild always seemed too staged for me. Plus the fact that Bear Grylls is always so cheerful I'd want to choke him out at some point. Les Stroud seems more like a regular guy, and he never tried to hide when he was absolutely miserable. And he plays a pretty mean harmonica.

12:27 a.m. on February 24, 2009 (EST)
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Agree with you guys on the Les v. Bear comparison. First of all, Bear just isn't very ursine. And secondly, it seems like he's always doing dumb things just to show he can get out of the mess. Though I'm not a particular fan of Stroud--not meant as a critique, just not the sort of show I sit and watch--he's much more worthwhile than Grylls.

dm133--Are you US Navy? Or USMC? USCG maybe? Former USN sub/diving doc here.

12:49 a.m. on February 24, 2009 (EST)
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I was in Ocean Isle beach one summer and was out surfing on the best 'waves' the east coast has to offer. I guess it is pretty common for dolphin to congregate where we were and wait on passing shrimp(or fishing or something of the like) boats to throw over the things they catch and do not need. At first there was some panic when we looked over and saw three fins sticking out of the water, but their smooth flowing swim made it pretty obvious to tell they were dolphins. It was pretty cool to watch the most natural surfers in the world ride and play on the same waves we were. I am looking for the pictures, I know at least one was caught from the shore of my buddy riding a wave and the dolphin riding no more then 15 feet from him. Not really the subject of this site, but kinda fits into the topic.

1:02 a.m. on February 24, 2009 (EST)
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Hey, works for me. I happen to think dolphins and porpoises are darn near the coolest animals on the planet. I'd give some of the smaller and less important bits of my anatomy to surf with dolphins like that. (And no rude remarks from the peanut gallery about what constitutes "smaller" and "less important", please!)

5:13 p.m. on February 24, 2009 (EST)
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Hay guys I love the story's there all very good.

But on the Bear Grylls defense I like his shows and yea he is always happy yes I can relate to that because in a tough situation like extreme survival moral is a very important factor and compound that with the fact he is ex British S.A.S. operative which is more or less equivalent to a U.S. Navy Seal or a U.S. Force Reconnaissance Marine. After living that life most every other survival experience is just a walk in the park.

But that's just my 2 cents

6:50 p.m. on February 24, 2009 (EST)
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Perry Clark,

I spent 4 years in the Navy, 4 as an Army Reservist (College years) and the last 17 or so in the Coast Guard.

mike068, you are correct, a good attitude goes a long way. Especially when you are squeezing water out of elephant poop and drinking it!

10:40 p.m. on February 24, 2009 (EST)
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I have 2 stories I would like to share with you all.

The most recent was only a couple of months ago I was solo backpacking which I do a lot of in one of my favorite locations in the southern tier of NY. It was around 10:00 – 10:30 pm and I was sitting at my camp fire keeping the cold away with the fire and a bit of Jim Beam when things got quite too quiet and the local Owls and other small animals stopped making noise and all I could here was a far off Coyote. And I got that being watched feeling then about 30 – 45 minutes later the local wildlife started back in with the sounds of the night so I made a mental note of the of the situation. The next day on my way out to head back home I decided to bushwhack about a 100 feet off of the trail because of the trail condition. I was about ¼ mile from my camping area seeing lots of deer tracks in the virgin snow when I came across some large cat tracks. After remembering what had happened the night before my curiosity got the best of me so I decided to follow them. I followed them as they circled around to the North West of my campsite about 150 feet out and you could plainly see where it hung around the close area for a while then they turned off and headed along the ridge line. On the way home I was thinking about the experience and recalled the last time I was in that area about a month earlier I herd some odd animal noises but at that time I just dismissed it to a animal sound distorted by the woods but now that I think back it could have been from some time of cat. Also this all from an area that there are no known large cats.

When I was a Boy Scouts about 15 my troop was camping Moose River in the Adirondacks region and after a week long trip we all got a bit lazy and careless and left out our Coleman cooking stove and a few other things and you guessed it a Bear got a wiff and came to din-din. Well the bear can into the camp cooking area which was about 100 - 150 or so feet away from the tents and tore up the cooking area. As all of us scouts peeked out of our tents in from behind closed flaps with are pocket knifes drawn, but not for fighting off a bear but for making a new door in the back of the tent. The bear licked, sniffed and tasted some stuff and left on its way. But the really funny this is that on our table there was a XX large bottle of Kaopectate and the bear picked it up and bit the cap off and drank it down like a cold drink on a hot day, I know you are thinking it sounds like BS but it honestly a true story.

So the question is does a bear crap in the woods? Answer nope not that one for a while anyway.

1:03 a.m. on February 26, 2009 (EST)
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Lots of years of service there, mate. Tip o' the hat to you. Should we ever meet, first round's on me.

7:58 p.m. on February 27, 2009 (EST)
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Ok, first I prefer Bear Grylls to Les Stroud but barely. I just have a hard time getting past the Canadian accent of Les even though I agree that some of Bear's show can seem staged but I'm watching to learn so I don't mind it.

Second, an interensting story I have is when I was around 9 years old my family and I went fishing trip in Northwestern Ontario. We were at a resort in the middle of no where and my older sister (11 yrs old) and younger brother (5 yrs old) and I were playing cops and robbers in front of our cabin at dusk as my parents were in the cabin getting the fish ready for dinner. My brother and I were both laying face down on the ground (my sister got us so we had to wait to be taged to get back up). After waiting for a couple of minutes I looked up to see what was taking my sister so long to tag us and I noticed she was gone. I went inside the cabin which was only about 10 feet from where we were playing to find my sister crying. I asked what the problem was and she said she saw a black bear walking down the path leading past our cabin and ran inside to tell our parents. It's a good thing my brother and I were both laying face down and not moving because it didn't pay any attention to us. FYI, I still talk to my sister.

10:17 p.m. on February 27, 2009 (EST)
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Car camping one time.

We had left Yellowstone and headed east to Theodore Roosevelt Nat Park. If any of you have made that trip you know its a long one. 3 kids and the wife. I have never took so much crap before. All of them wanted to stop hours before we got there. Well, we pulled in right a dusk. Driving to the campground we saw buffalo on the ridge. Everyone thought that was cool, but we were spent. Long, long drive. Set up camp, ate, and went to bed.

In the morning, as always, I was the first up. I unzippered the tent door. My eyes went wide. I quetly spoke to my son. He was about 20 yards away. Of course he told me to shut up. I said "no you have got to unzipper your tent slowly, and look out" Not 10 feet from the opening of his tent was a buffalo with her calf, bedded down. The Buffalo had picked the campgroung to bed in for two days. there were 60 of them. The rangers had to carefully move some trailers away as the people inside could not get out. The buffalo did there thing, and so did all the campers. Only we were real carefull not to get to close. Two nights later they moved on as they came in, without a sound.

My kidds still remember the 13 hr trip from hell. That was rewarded by the days living with the buffalo.

10:42 p.m. on February 27, 2009 (EST)
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And there was the wolf i met last season. I had found a spot earlier in the year. As far as I could tell there was a bear and deer in the area. Well I was there for my 3rd and last day. I woke up to a very calm wonderfull morning. I ate had my coffee, and was sloppy about clean-up. I just wanted to take a short walk before leaving the place. I was gone for around 3 hours. Right before my campsite there was a little dune of sand. As I got to the top of it I stoped dead in my tracks. There he was in my campsite. We saw each other at the sametime. And it was like time stoped. He was gone in less than a second. It was pretty cool. BUT I will not be sloppy again. Lesson learned.

9:40 a.m. on February 28, 2009 (EST)
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Wow, cool stories, Mike. I esp. like the buffalo piece. A real lesson in living on nature's terms.

1:07 p.m. on February 28, 2009 (EST)
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Mike that is an awsome story about the buffalo

2:07 p.m. on March 9, 2009 (EDT)
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Lots of good stories here.

Saturday morning I went for a cross-country ski, pulling the baby behind me in the pulk. We were skiing out to a small pond off some mult-use trails on state conservation land that I frequent in winter.

I often see signs of moose in this area (tracks, droppings, so on) and the weekend before, I'd noticed what looked like very large moose tracks near the pond. They were large enough for me to remark on them in particular once I got home.

Anyway, I was skiing out there with the baby, coming up a small hill near the pond when I happened to notice a huge brown shadow rise up from behind some trees about 30 feet away and moving along at a good pace in my general direction.

Something about the large size and shape of the form, which was uphill from me, and how quickly it was moving, threw me off, because as I immediately stopped on the trail to make way, my first second's thought was, "someone's riding a horse on the trail...and it looks like a Clydesdale!"

Of course, it was a moose, as I realized a half second later, feeling like a total idiot.

I was stopped on the trail, off to the side as much as I could be with a pulk attached behind me and hoping the moose wasn't dead set on using the trail. Thankfully the moose wanted nothing to do with us either and veered off, staying in the woods parallel to us. So I didn't have to figure out how on earth I could ski backwards down a narrow trail with an open sled carrying my kid.

Besides the idiocy of my brain's first thought (I had just been thinking about moose and wondering what signs we might see!) I was struck by the fact that if I hadn't been looking in that direction at the right time I never would have heard, let alone seen, the moose in the snow. It was very quiet, compared to my skiing at least.

And, I'd been right. It was very big!

Naturally my camera was in my pack at the time. I took it out for the return trip, but of course we didn't see the moose again.

2:38 p.m. on March 9, 2009 (EDT)
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Neet story it's good that all came out well for you. But I would bet the Moose saw you and knew where you were.

2:47 p.m. on March 9, 2009 (EDT)
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Yes, I always think it would be remarkable to know how much animal action we miss going on around us. Usually we're looking straight ahead, or at the ground or whatever.

One reason I like getting out in winter is that you can easily see some of the action that's already happened through animals tracks -- the "tracks of the unseen," as one book I read called them, so aptly.

3:23 p.m. on March 9, 2009 (EDT)
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Alicia when you are out in the winter pay attention to the animal tracks, you can learn a lot about there specific habits and general habits. It will aid you in the rest of the year and it may help you in being more aware of the animals around you. When I am camping in the winter I like to walk around the outer perimeter of my area you would be amazed how many animals will linger out side your area watching you most likely looking for a free meal or just wondering whet the heck we are doing in there front yard.

2:27 p.m. on March 12, 2009 (EDT)
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Here in southeast Ohio I do come across plenty of deer, whitetail deer that is. At night, once the sun begins to set, I always hear that owl and coyotes.

Never been approached by coyotes as of yet. I rather do enjoy their "yelping" and howling I must admit.

3:31 p.m. on March 12, 2009 (EDT)
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Yes the sounds or nature are very soothing.

I have one place I go that its like the owls line up on the ridge line and hoot up and down the ridge for an hour or so. I sounds pretty cool all the way up then all the way down. and about the time the owls quite the coyotes start there yelping & howling.

And I cant wait for the nice weather to get here because I do miss the crickets, lightning bug's & cicadas

4:13 p.m. on March 13, 2009 (EDT)
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Got 20-25 yards from a Brown bear and cub in Alaska once and had a curious bull moose follow us for a while when we were hiking. And these two things were on consecutive days, got to love Alaska!! Believe it or not, the moose made me a bit more nervous since the bears turned and went the other way pretty quick and were gone before there was time to get scared. The moose on the other hand got as close as 50 yards and followed us for several minutes.

I also had the privilege being within spitting range (literally) of a black bear and two cubs this fall. I was in a tree, and they didn't know I was there, but they stayed for 45 mins or so. Even got to watch the cubs play. The mom seemed kind of on edge like she could smell me, but never thought to look up!

8:30 a.m. on March 15, 2009 (EDT)
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Thought you'd enjoy this bear video !

1:55 p.m. on March 15, 2009 (EDT)
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They have coyotes in New York State too?

Where is exactly where you hike or spend time in the Great Outdoors since you mentioned ridges?

5:08 p.m. on March 15, 2009 (EDT)
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Not sure where Mike is exactly, but Coyotes inhabit every state east of the Mississippi. Here in PA they are more common than Black Bear, River Otter, or Bobcat

9:22 p.m. on March 15, 2009 (EDT)
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I have watched Coyotes in TN, GA, NC, & SC.

A friend of mine had one steal his lunch out of his truck, he had left the door open.

10:38 p.m. on March 15, 2009 (EDT)
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The bear video is halarious. Of cource I don't tink I would have liked to have walked up and startld him why he was doing that.

12:06 p.m. on March 16, 2009 (EDT)
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I normally camp in the Finger Takes Trail area (FLT) or the Adirondacks and surrounding areas.

1:39 p.m. on March 16, 2009 (EDT)
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So maybe that's what stole my loaf of bread while camping here at the Lamping Homestead...I wonder...

I do know New York State has the Applachian Plateau in addition to the Appalachian Mountain Range. I love hilly/mountainous terrain.

12:37 a.m. on March 17, 2009 (EDT)
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If you like the hilly/mountainous terrain try the Adirondack High Peaks or just the Adirondack. Also the eastern side of the FLT area is pretty hilly. I like it because its not to far away and its is perfect for weekend outings. FLT has a bunch of loop trails (as I am sure other areas do to) which are nice because you aren't looking the same trail twice in a row.

10:46 a.m. on March 17, 2009 (EDT)
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When I worked in Denali Park Alaska a few summers ago, I had a simular incident with a Moose cow and her calf.

It was early spring there in the park and the road was only open to the Savage River area (about 13 miles into the park). I decided to dayhike along the road as far as I could in the beginning of the day till noon then turn around.

I walked along a path that led from the east entrance carrying only a sack lunch in my daypack with my camera, a couple telephoto lenses,tripod and some water. I walked on passing the sled dog kennels, stopping to talk to and pet a few of the dogs that came out of their huts. Then got to the road and followed it into the wilderness of the park. Soon I was away from the public use areas and the railroad area. Now there was nothing but Tundra, lots of open space with tiny Sitka Spruce scattered all over the slopes and tons of little ponds here and there.

After about 6 miles I came to a bend in the road and came around the corner to find a Moose cow and her calf standing beside the road. Well, we have moose here in the Tetons and they are fairly docile around humans, even the big Bulls. So I thought nothing of the encounter and started to continue on past them along the road. I had stopped when I saw them and took a few pictures. But when I started back on my way the cows ears went back, and the hump on her back went higher as she bend down into a posture looking at me with a vengence.

Immediately she started away from her calf and at me. Her long ungangly looking legs running in fast bursts of energy and soon she was near to me. Well without invitation I took off across the Tundra on the opposite side of the road and ran my hardest trying to stay ahead of her. All I could think about was being kicked to death by this angry mother moose.

Running was hard for me tho with the moss and lichen filled country with hidden holes of water sogged spongecake and tall ancient grass tuffs everywhere. Soon I came over a litle hill to a stretch with ponds everywhere. And in the way the light was I could not tell how deep any of them were, but they covered my path and I had no choice but right thru them with this mad cow on my tail. I glanced around once or twice seeing her running me down, looking like death coming to take me home.

I plunged into the first pond and luckily it was only about a foot deep as I tried to be sure my camera stayed high and dry. I went thru and past this pond and over another hill. For a moment, I lost sight or her and dashed under a small spruce with huge bottom branches sticking out. I huddled close up to the tree and sat still looking out thru the branches.

Soon she came into the little pond and stopped. I could hear I water dripping of her body, but without moving could not see if she could tell where I was. After about 10 minutes she went off into the distance , but I stayed there for about a half hour thinking she might just be waiting for me to emerge from my hole.

When I crawled out and walked up over the hill I saw her grazing about a halfmile away. I started back towards the road, but within a minute she saw me and was back on my tail. She caught up to me quickly and I was on the road, with cars coming by now. I flagged down one car and after they stopped I ran around behind it for cover. She tried to follow but got caught between the cars.

Soon I was walking back the way I came, but kept looking back to make sure the moose was not chasing me.

3:13 p.m. on March 24, 2009 (EDT)
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Three years ago I chased a full grown female moose, through the bush for 45 minutes, got real close a couple of times, it was something I will never forget.



7:24 a.m. on March 25, 2009 (EDT)
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Three years ago I chased a full grown female moose, through the bush for 45 minutes, got real close a couple of times, it was something I will never forget.


While I may not the most experienced backpacker of the group here on, wildlife education is MY area of expertise. To steal a quote from a long-ago thread, it's my "Passion, and my job." Many people aren't lucky enough to ever even see a moose in the wild, I'm envious. I'm just not sure chasing wildlife is the best way to get a better look. I opt for binoculars myself.

There are factors to consider.

1. ...If he cow has had young. This adds multiple variations to what if..
a. The cow turns to protect the young and tramples you to death.
b. The cow, so frightened, abandons the calf, ultimately causing it's demise.

2. While chasing the cow, what if she happens across another hiker/camper? She (you) may be putting them in great danger. In the path of a fleeing moose is NOT a place I'd like to be.

3. Suppose the cow, in her panic run, puts a foot in a hole or between to logs and breaks a leg - hey horses do it all the time, why not Moose. Then what?

4. Many sportsmen and outdoors-people alike simply do not tolerate such activity. Where I live, loose dogs are shot for chasing white-tail deer, not because they are taking game from hunters, but because it is considered cruel to panic and chase wildlife.

5. As referenced many times here on Trailspace, the principals of "Leave No Trace" are also in play here.

From leave No trace:

Do not disturb wildlife or plants just for a "better look". Observe wildlife from a distance so they are not scared or forced to flee.
Quick movements and loud noises are stressful to animals. Travel quietly and do not pursue, feed or force animals to flee. ... In hot or cold weather, disturbance can affect an animals ability to withstand the rigorous environment.

Considerate campers observe wildlife from afar... Remember that you are a visitor to their home.

10:53 a.m. on March 25, 2009 (EDT)
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I am Special.


Let me add a couple things to my story, 1st off the cow was not scared, was actually a little curious about me it would not run away quickly, sometimes we would just stare at each other before she would move on, again it went on for 45 minutes and I am a fast runner, but if that moose really wanted to get away from me it would have. It felt like we were playing a game. I believe the same moose is still in that area, from sightings from other people up there, somebody actually saw her with a calf(hooray). Also I am not a MEATHEAD.


I am a well rounded outdoorsman, with experience with animals.


I relocate rattlesnakes up here so people don't kill the poor things, although it has been 2 years since I have had too which is a damn shame.

I love nature pal, don't rag on me, there enough people to rag on just look at the fields and streets littered with garbage, disgusting.


Nice dogs by the way.



12:03 p.m. on March 25, 2009 (EDT)
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Did anybody see the episode of Survivorman where Les simulated a canoeing accident in Ontario in late fall? He had to hike out to the nearest highway. At one point he got seriously freaked out because he thought that they moose he had spotted was either in rut or a female. I've seen wolf and moose tracks here in Michigan but haven't been lucky enough to see one live yet.


Bringing some of the themes of this thread together, Les Stroud participated in a 'Best Story' project that includes Moose, Canoes, and Ontario.


Good story:

2:04 p.m. on March 25, 2009 (EDT)
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Good story, first time hearing him tell it. My moose encounter happened in the spring. I have seen a couple wolves, saw a timber wolf a couple of years ago, their a lot bigger then you think. The place I go camping there is a lot of wild life, and no hunters.



12:02 a.m. on April 12, 2009 (EDT)
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Only two animal encounters that added a little interest to my hiking experience.

1st story. Back in the mid 80's on a solo backpacking trip on the Superior Hiking Trail (N. MN along Lake Superior) experienced what today is a good black bear encounter story. Back then it was an experience I would have rather not have had.

Trying to get some sleep a mouse kept crawling up the entry mosquito netting. I would half wake up and swat the little pest. The last swat was not a mouse. Just a bear taking a sniff. For whatever reason the thought that hit my 1/2 asleep mind was that it's a moose. FEAR!! Did not want to end up trampled by moose in my tent. Exited as rapidly possible stepping onto couple inches of fresh snow. No moose. It's a bear. Less FEAR. Grabbed the 1st decent size branch stepped behind a too small tree and started yelling and swinging. Bear left. Still have that branch today. Carved a bear club over the next several nights.

2nd story. Less dramatic but from my perspective a better outing memory. Solo stealth hammock camping this past autumn. Perfect night for star gazing while drifting off to sleep in the hammock. Might have just fell asleep when awaken by the noise of a fast moving critter. Didn't sound like a bear, deer or raccoon. Not sure what a coyote, wolf or Fischer would sound like. Maybe a Wolf? Only once have I seen a wolf in the wild. Turned on the headlamp pointing toward the general direction where I guessed the animal is or was. Couple eyeballs reflected back. Oops, got the attention of whatever. Slowly it approached. Saw a flash of white. Bad thought "skunk?" As the creature approached I was relieved & excited to see it was a Badger. First time I've ever seen a badger in the wild. It stopped, took a long look then turned around and continued on. Fell asleep. Awoke to hear similar rapid walking sound approach the hammock from the opposite direction, but real close. The badger slowed its pace and cautiously approached. Figured at this point it was best to lay very still. Ended up having a badger under the hammock and me wishing I had hung real high that night. Best I could figure out it was scratching the ground under the hammock. After a few long moments it wandered away.

2:58 p.m. on April 12, 2009 (EDT)
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Awesome stories everyone! It's a good read when you're stuck in your house.

One time we were hiking on the PCT a buddy and me. Having hiked a 25 miler day we were absolutely spent, so we reluctantly put the food between us and slept right on the trail in the middle of a steep slope. I'm sure you can see this one coming....

I heard a sniffing noise at the foot of my sleeping i opened my eyes just in time to see a bear bailing out in the bush and almost knocking me down the slope in the process. So i went back to sleep, thinking "geez, it most have been scared to death".

Still asleep, i hear the same noise again. So this time i'm thinking "let it come real close and scare it for good" When the sniffing got to knee level i barely moved an eyelid and the bear was gone again! The problem is, it kept circling around us for almost an hour, imprevious to our yells and rock throwing. We eventually managed to get back to sleep, only to be awakened by rain forcing us to get back on our swollen feet and hike some more....

12:06 a.m. on April 13, 2009 (EDT)
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Wow, Franc. Makes me wonder what stories that bear is telling right now....

"There I was, shuffling along, scrounging for something to eat, when I come across these two bozo humans lying right there on the trail with a food smell just all over 'em, and a big lump between 'em that I'm guessing was at least partly edible.

"Now, after I suprised 'em the first time, did they bother to put up a tent, hang the food, anything like that? No-o-o-o-o....these guys just kept lying on the trail and occasionally chucking a rock at me and yelling like their team was down three in the ninth.

"It was bizarre. Never saw anything like it. Finally, it started to rain, and they got up and wandered on in the dark and the rain. I followed 'em for a bit, but quit, figuring they were probably high on something or toxic from something they ate, anyway.

"It's amazing what you can see out here."

12:37 a.m. on April 13, 2009 (EDT)
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All right, here's another one.

We were camped at Ootsa lake in the spring at a winter logging camp in northern BC. Beautiful country, tons of bald eagles, beavers and 6-7 bear sightings a day. One of the guys on the crew got his lunch (and his foot powder!) stolen while planting, it was very funny.

So there's a mention about a bear getting too close to the tent kitchen for comfort, so everyone need to store their snacks in the kitchen to prevent a bear encounter. I'm a bit worried because i decided to put my hammock away from everybody else, closer to the lake.

One night i'm ready to go to bed and i remember an apple in my bag right under my hammock. I'm too lazy to get back up so i just fall asleep. Then, in the night........a noise right under my hammock!! It looks big and i'm getting the goose bumps, so i carefully lift a corner of my hat and see a big furry animal!!

Turned out it was a buddy's dog. It stayed there under the hammock and occasionally rocked it a little. Feeling all nice and warm, cuddling the dog, i fell asleep. I heard some more noise during the night, and half asleep muttered "good dog...".

When i woke up the next morning there was bear poo 6 FEET from my hammock!! Got me thinking: was it really the dog all that time or was i cuddling a bear??

Yep Perry, you can picture the bear getting back to his wife "you can't beleive what happened to me at work today. I'm trying to get an apple you see, and some crazy hippy tried to molest me!"

1:28 a.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
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Up in the Olympics, seeing bear is pretty common. My husband and I knew there was a resident mama and cub in the Enchanted Valley.

After making camp, he, our daughter, and I decided to wander around to see what we could see in the area (including a small blow-down caused by an avalanche from the other side of the river--very cool, different story). As we we making our way back to our site, we heard a rustling immediately off to our right. I was dead, I knew it--I knew we had freaked mama bear, and I was dead (as I was last in line on the trail.)

Needless to say, it took the rest of the trip to live down the killer bunny that hopped onto the trail...

Shades of Monty Python, anyone?...

11:23 p.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
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Love all the animal stories. Perry your cat story reminded me of 1 of my own encounters. I had camped outside of Klamath falls Oregon, and every morning saw new cat tracks around the camp, although I never saw the cat.

My worst/best encounter though, happened last year. My nephew and I were on day 7 of a 2 week hike, a few miles North of interstate 40, and all either of us could think or for that matter talk about was "PIZZA". We were High Hoofin our way to the Hostile right there on I40 and the AT, when I looked down mid stride and saw what looked like the biggest rattlesnake in the world (my pictures showed it was only about 6 foot). There was no thinkin, I screamed like a little B1tch and ran back where I came from. My balls grew back seconds later, adn I decided no1 would believe me unless I took pictures. I pulled out my camera, and crawled back to the snake like a sniper goin in for a shot. The snake never rattled it's huge tail, it just stretched out in the middle of the trail and posed for a minute or two. My heart rate went closer to normal as I talked to the snake, who looked at me like he was sayin "you got your picture already, now leave me alone while I sunbathe". There was a cliff on each side, 1 up 1 down, so we chose the upside and gave hime the widest birth we could (about 2 feet). Luckilly he didn't seem to mind us, and we never hear him rattle, but about 2 hours later we came across hiss little brother (excuse the pun), and he wasn't happy at all, shaking his rattle like he was tryin to rip it off.

This wasn't the first time I had encountered a snake, stepped on a few, nor was it my first Rattlesnake, but maybe it was because my 16 year old nephew was with, it was my scariest.

7:46 p.m. on May 18, 2009 (EDT)
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Not sure if this counts as a hiking story. But here goes:

The other day I was fishing on a local lake, when I looked up into the sky to see if I could see any birds of any kind. I saw a fairly large bird flying in my direction so I decided to watch the bird to see what it was going to do. Well this bird which was grey in colour, with some black, flew overhead and then started a search pattern around this small lake. I watched as it circled a few times with ever smaller circles when it decided to concentrate on a very small area.

The bird suddenly plunged 30-40 feet, feet first into the lake, in an area I was in just a few moments before. I was watching an Osprey attack. Just a few seconds later this bird was batting its powerful wings lifting itself out of the water with a small trout firmly gripped in its talons. I watched this bird for a few moments longer looking to see if any birds such as seagulls or crows would attack the bird to get the Osprey to drop the fish in defense. In this area I had seen crows attack a Bald Eagle hoping for the same result.

Any way no more bird attacks so the Osprey flew off to a treed area and was able to enjoy its lunch.

One Osprey attack, and for those who keep score of fish caught, 1 small trout released back into the lake to be caught again. Not a bad day. Better than workin.

9:19 p.m. on May 18, 2009 (EDT)
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That's awesome. Did you know that osprey carry their prey head first, facing into the wind, so as to make them more aerodynamic?

One bird you may have seen attack the osprey would have been the Bald Eagle. I have. They're notorious for stealing what belongs to others. That's the main reason Ben Franklin suggested the turkey as the symbol of the United States, over the eagle.

9:28 p.m. on May 18, 2009 (EDT)
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For anyone interested, the oldtime professional bushmen I started working with here in B.C., almost 50 years ago, now, were FAR more afraid of a COW MOOSE with a "newdropped" calf, than they were of Grizzlies. We had our BCFS patrol truck attacked by one high in the Elk Valley one warm June day and that miserable, ugly old beotch was A'COMIN' and WE was A'GOIN'.

Having spent much of my working life with various Canadian resource agencies and living in remote wilderness, I often chuckle at some of the "expertise" posted on backpacking forums by people living in densely populated suburbia.

I have often approached very large Bull Moose when hunting and they were rutting to within 35 yds and they were NOT afraid of me, or, I of them. I would NEVER do that with a rutting Bull Elk, along with a nursing Cow Moose and a Grizzly sow, the most dangerous mammals I know of....except "Homo Sapiens".

MOST wildlife and this INCLUDES MOST bears, are FAR more afraid of YOU than you NEED be of them. The jurisdiction I live in, B.C. has more Cougars than anywhere else and they are a big, strong cat, yet, even in remote areas, one almost NEVER encounters one and only about five humans have been killed by them in over a century.

Bears, especially Grizzlies, ARE dangerous and REQUIRE caution and avoidance, NOT some idiotic idea that some "expurt" from suburbia can fend them off with "pepper spray". Yet, even with B.C.'s rapidly increasing Grizzly population, the falsehoods about incipient extirpation notwithstanding, the REAL number of injuries/deaths is pretty small and MOST of those are due to human error.

I enjoy encountering wildlife when backpacking and seldom carry one of my custom Grizzly rifles unless working. The study of nature is a never-ending source of spiritual fulfillment and intellectual challenge and this keeps me truckin' which, for we ancient geezers, is good healthy fun!

On the Osprey/Eagle issue, there were many Ospreys just off my cabin on the shore of Kootenay Lake, when I still lived there. There was one particular Bald Eagle that ALWAYS forced the Ospreys to give up their catch, usually in a display of aerial "combat" that would make CF-18 jocks envious! He was a LAZY old phart and just too big for even the mature male Ospreys to fight off.

Among my most treasured memories, tho', is the HUGE Bald Eagle that lived in a giant Douglas Fir snag beside my "keepers" house on Ballenas Light Station, off Vancouver Island in 1986-87. This guy was about the size of a Sopwith Camel, the largest Eagle I have ever seen and that is a lot of them.

He attacked a bitch Otter and her FOUR big pups one afternoon, 30 yards from my kitchen window and stole a 3 ft. Dogfish that she had just caught. The Otter, a fierce species as you would know if you ever get close to one, was NO match for this bad old bird and he flew to the top of the snag and more or less told the entire world to "pogue mahone".

People actually pay to witness wildlife situations like that and we saw them for free; it made up for the poor wages and long lonely stays on fire lookouts, light stations and other such places where wilderness whackos tend to work.

9:35 p.m. on May 18, 2009 (EDT)
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F klock yes I did know that. The osprey are also able to rotate their talons to help line up the fish caught. We do have a number of osprey around here, though they are a little hard to spot in flight as they do resemble a seagull. The Bald Eagle, white headed or not is easier to recognize in flight. The Raven unless it is flying around another bird of some kind is also difficult to recognise. I do like to see them in flight.

7:47 p.m. on August 2, 2009 (EDT)
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Last week when I was camping in the ADK I had an unusual encounter with a pack of coyotes. Normally they stay a distance away especially when you have a campfire burning. But this pack seemed like the fire didn't even bother me they came up to about 100 yards from my camping area and hung around for about a half hour to 45 minutes moving around that 100 yard perimeter howling & barking. I talked to a group of people that were camping about a mile and a half doe the trail and and the pack did the same thing to them about a hour earlier but only for about fifteen minutes. Maybe they stuck around me so long because I was solo and the other group there was 4 people in it. I don't really know, the only thing I do know is I don't normally get spooked for any reason but I definitely had a odd eerie felling.

8:24 p.m. on September 10, 2009 (EDT)
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Me and a couple of buddies were once surveilled by coyotes once on one of our brief summer hikes. It was night, and we had no flashlights (Its where we grew up, we know the trails extremely well). The only thing you could really notice was the glare of the moonlight in their eyes. Glad there weren't wolves in that area. If there were, however, I wouldn't be out hiking at night.

9:25 a.m. on September 12, 2009 (EDT)
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A number of years ago, while camping in northern Michigan, a buddy and I decided to try to hike 20 miles of the NCT and get back to the camp ground we were at by that night. Since we didn't get started on our day hike untill about noon, we ended up hiking a few miles after the sun had set. My buddy and I both enjoyed walking under the moon light (with as little light from our headlights as possible.) Towards the end of our hike there was a section of the trail that had a lot of ferns, and other ground cover, that was between knee and hip high. We were both getting pretty worn out, so when we heard some russtling in the the ground cover, we quickly turned our head lamps on and half expected to get mauled by a bear or something. As it turns out a porcupine decided to share the trail with us for a few minutes, and didn't seem to mind that a couple of hikers (with head lamps on high) were keeping there distance so as not to get poked.

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