Moose are a regular part of our lives in the Centennial Valley. Thus I was not at all surprised to read the following on the Greater Yellowstone Resource Guide: "The Greater Yellowstone region hosts some of the most productive Shiras Moose photography, viewing and hunting in the west." While numerous issues have had a negative impact on the Yellowstone National Park moose population, the Centennial Valley's moose population remains strong. However, while they are regular winter visitors on the resort grounds and around the lake, they do not usually venture as close the rest of the year.
So, when I heard Bo barking early one morning this past September, I did NOT expect to see a moose coming in the gate. Yet this guy seemed deaf to the dog's warning. In fact, while he paused as though reading our sign (See the yellow oval to the left of the moose? It read "Open By Reservation Only"), he slowly continued in the gate.
A few feet inside, he paused. Perhaps he wondered whether his 'reservations' were up to date. Perhaps he finally heard Bo. Perhaps he just did not see a lady worth his time.
While I can only speculate what might have been going on in his head, he certainly looked to be deliberating his options. Looking right. Looking left. Ears on full alert.
Bo kept his distance (he is 'moose smart'), but did not quiet down. I continued to hide beside the lodge (but I doubt he was unaware of my presence). And, no lady moose materialized to tempt him in further.
Something just didn't feel right (which, quite frankly, made me quite happy. A fully adorned bull moose sliding into rut is not what I want hanging around my yard). So, in the blink of an eye he whirled and headed out the gate.
Clearly this moose was no fool. A road leading directly into the refuge. A whiff of the ladies on the breeze. Our morning visitor wasted no time hitting the south road.
Who knows what goes on in a moose's mind? Why stop for a dip? Because he is a moose and moose like water is my best guess. When Mr. Moose headed south, my hubby jumped on the ATV and went looking for more photo opps. Just outside the resort boundaries he found our visitor wading in the lake's shallows.
The more time we spent around this guy, the more we were convinced he had one thing and only one thing on his mind - the ladies! While my hubby clicked away, Mr. Moose drew closer and closer - again apparently oblivious to his close proximity to a two-legged critter. Finally hubby started his ATV - maybe he would hear what he appeared not to see. Still the moose advanced!
Finally he seemed to wake from his stupor. "What is that thing blocking my path? I don't like his look." So he changed direction, heading west to the shore.
Even a moose can only take so much attention. "These paparazzi are nothing short of annoying! Can't a guy have any peace? This photo opp is definitely OVER!" With that, Mr. Moose swung south then headed west over the ridge and, eventually I am sure, into the refuge.
Just another 'normal' day at Elk Lake. I must admit, I just can't get too much of this. What a privilege to share my extended backyard with an animal that beautiful - that majestic - that unique!
Lady of the Lake