Today I’m going moose hunting. Oh, relax…I’m not talking about actually killing a moose—I just want, no need, to see one in the wild.
Before we embarked on our fifteen hour car ride to Yellowstone National Park, I made a wildlife checklist. (Along with my packing checklist, food checklist, snack checklist, lodging checklist, foliage checklist, and car games checklist. I like, no need, lists.) As of last night, everything had been checked off my wildlife list, with the exception of the elusive moose. Bald eagle. Check. Black bear. Check. Grizzly bear. Check. Pronghorn elk. Check. Bison. Check. And, finally, the infamous Druid wolf pack. Big, unexpected check.
We have one more day in Yellowstone, and one animal left to conquer. 5:30 a.m. the alarm buzzes. Maybe I don’t really need to see a moose. After all, we did see the wolves, and that’s a rare sight. Okay, that’s settled—no moose. Oh drat, now I have to use the restroom. Go back to sleep, go back to sleep. It doesn’t work. Now that I’m up, we might as well go moose hunting.
I rouse my husband, who is up and chipper in a matter of moments. (A moose sighting is on the top of his personal to-do list.) Next, we shake awake our two teenage boys, who are not so excited about hunting the mysterious moose. We tell them they’re more than welcome to stay behind…they can look at our pictures later. We hear them convincing each other that this may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience (we’ve pounded that mantra into their heads this entire trip), so up and at ‘em they are.
By 6:00 a.m., we’re dressed in appropriate moose hunting attire, and heading to the perfect moose hunting location. Being a consummate web surfer, and not wanting to waste a single moment of valuable vacation time, I have thoroughly researched the most effective methods for spotting the various wildlife on my list. Feeling pretty smug about my moose strategy—after all, we’ve seen every other animal on the list, haven’t we?—I feel confident that I have us completely prepared for a successful morning of moose sightings.
As we drive to the potential moose sighting location, I impart my moose sighting wisdom on the other passengers in the vehicle.
Look for moose along the water’s edge—eating from marshy vegetation. Only bull moose have antlers. Watch for female moose (cows) with their calves. Stay still and quiet, and be prepared for a long wait.
As we approach our destination, I distribute the requisite binoculars. We’ll have two people searching through binoculars, and two sets of eyes scanning the vast horizon.
We exit the car, find some brush for cover, and settle in to…wait. And watch. And wait.
“I told you to bring your heavier jacket. Get the blanket from in the car. It’s green—it’ll blend in.”
We continue to wait. And watch. And wait.
“Sandwiches are in the cooler, but no chips—they’re too noisy.”
We continue to wait. And watch. And wait.
“I have to go to the bathroom.”
“There’re plenty of bushes, and no one else is out here this early.”
We continue to wait. And watch. And wait. And wait some more.
“Are you sure this is the right spot?”
“Yes, I’m sure. Remember what I read? Quote…moose hunting requires planning and patience…end-quote.”
“But sweetheart, we’ve been out here over an hour.”
“Okay, then, maybe it’s time to try the moose call.”
“The moose call?”
“That’s what the web site said. Female moose sometimes have a second mating cycle.”
“That’s more information than I need, but okay, I’m game. Get it? Moose? Game?”
“Yes, hon, I get it.”
“I’m guessing the moose call probably isn’t, ‘Here moosey, moosey, moosey?’”
“Very funny. No…you have to sound like a cow in heat.”
“Oh, yeah, right.”
The boys start doing their best impression of a moose mating call. (To this day I don’t know how seventeen year old boys would possibly know what a female moose in heat sounds like…but it sounded convincing to me.)
I’d like to report that the moose mating call worked, and that our persistence and patience paid off. But, alas, no moose sighting. Which leaves me with an unfinished checklist, which is worse than no checklist at all. So, it will be back to Yellowstone, or some other moose country. But this time, I’ll practice my moose mating calls before we go.
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