Maine Moose Trip July 2005

On July 16-17 2005 I spent a day and a half looking for moose in the wilds of central Maine. This is something I've wanted to do since I got a copy of "Wildwood Wisdom" by Ellsworth Jaeger when I was 11. Found three wild moose and some other notables as you can see below. As this was my first such expedition and time was limited, most exploring was done by driving down logging roads, looking for likely spots and investigating them. There is an easier way to see wild moose - sign up for a moose viewing "tour" with a guide and known moose sites - but that is against the idea of finding them myself, and just watching them be themselves. If I do go up again I'll definately take one of the canoe moosewatching trips.

The very first moose I saw on the trip was in a swamp just south of Augusta ME while driving along I-95. Looked like a large female, eating plants in the noontime sun. Didn't take a picture as highway speed meant I could only see her briefly. Very pretty though!

The first half-day I saw lots of moose sign - mostly tracks - but no moose in the flesh. Checking local logging roads gave me ideas of what to look for. Went out at 6AM the morning of the next day and soon found this pile of bones, presumably from a moose hunt. The head and large meat-bearing bones were gone as is typical of a hunt.

About three hours later I stopped along a back road to do something in the van - look at the map, I really don't remember what. This was along a logging road north of the Kennebec River as it flows out of Moosehead Lake. I heard a funny crunching noise immediately off to my left in the forest through the van window. Turning off the engine revealed the sound of large jaws chewing something quite woody! I got out of the van and crept to the edge of the forest, and found myself about 10 feet from a large female moose enjoying the local vegetation. The brush and close proximity prevented a clear picture. Spent about ten minutes just watching her eat leafy tree branches, almost close enough to touch at several times. When I finally moved to try to get a better view she ran off; here is a blurry pic of her when she paused to look back over her shoulder in a small sunny spot. The camera obviously focussed on a branch in between.

That afternoon I drove up the east side of Moosehead Lake. Some of the local signs are wonderful, featuring local sculpture and artwork. This was my favorite.

Further up the road I saw a car stopped along the road. When you see this it means either folks looking FOR moose, or folks looking AT moose. This time it was AT. A large female was investigating a ditch near a sign. Unfortunately the camera batteries expired immediate after this pic was taken; she ran off in that characteristic moose manner, which I thought I had caught on 1/10th second burst photography. Batteries, *sigh*.

Continuing north I came to a place everyone talks about called "the end of the road". I found it just north of First Roach Lake - or at least the end of the pavement. There is no pavement north of here until Canada in this portion of Maine. There are small towns ocassionally; signs indicated the next one north was 12 miles further up this road.

On the way back to Greenville I was driving slowly looking through swamps for moose. Then -- found one! A very cute male was quietly eating right next to the road. He was a bit uneasy about my presence, so I just snapped three pics before he walked a bit further into the swamp. He didn't find peace though - two more cars saw me and stopped, with lots of kids piling out to get their pictures taken with a moose in the background.

This was it for moose sightings for the rest of the day. Besides moose, I saw falcons, hawks, fish, frogs, rabbits, turkey and an undetermined marmot-looking fellow. One more funny thing happened that evening - while sitting next to a well-known local bog waiting for a local moose (who didn't make an appearance), other people noticed that a car was parked right on top of moose tracks heading across the road. Apparently we just missed that moose, heh heh!

If you get the chance I can recommend the Greenville ME area for really relaxing. There is precious little to do there except paddle around the many lakes, look for moose, go on moose watching trips and, if you're so inclined, hop a seaplane to a remote lake for some quiet fishing. The "local" movie theatre is just over an hour away. Nice.