Details: Moose safari in Maine
If my faith started to falter, I had road signs to restore my hope. Near Waterville Valley, a yellow posting warned drivers to watch for crossing moose over the next six miles. Not a problem: I would certainly brake for moose, because I had a feeling that they wouldn’t grant me the same courtesy.
Ed, a wildlife guide for 28 years, was more than just a spotter with an impressive track record. (When asked his lifetime moose count, he answered, “Thousands.”) He was also driver, educator and, during lulls between clues, entertainer. On the ride to the lake, about an hour from his house in Sangerville, he wore his ranger hat and filled my head with the animal’s stats. For example, the females can weigh up to 800 pounds, a slender physique compared with their male counterparts, which can crush the scale at 1,200 pounds, rack included. Unlike deer and elk, moose are solitary creatures that, like loners at high school, dine and wander the hallways solo.
“They’re more or less big, gentle creatures,” said Ed. “They’re a nice symbol of the wilderness and of the North Woods of Maine.”
Most of the region’s moose-viewing operations run in the spring, summer and fall, when the Maine outdoors is reborn and revitalized. Though Ed conceded that winter is not peak season, he did draw an L.L. Bean-esque image of moose grazing beneath boughs of snow-tinged evergreens, their coats thick and gray and snuggly. The state’s official animal — Maine has the second-largest population after Alaska — is most visible between Mother’s and Father’s Day. During this period, the snow has ceded to an all-you-can-eat buffet of young shoots — pure moosenip.
In addition, the five-week summer invasion of demonic black flies forces the moose to flee the forest for less irritating places, such as open roads and storage areas for winter road salt, which the moose lick up like children in the land of lollipops. Despite their menacing size, the animals are docile and oafish, unless you catch them during the fall rut season, when they turn aggressive in their pursuit of the ladies.