Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Bullwinkle's MaMa

The girl with the far away eyes

OBN turned me on to a contest about scary moments and unexpected thrills in the Outdoors.

I wrote this last March, but it's still got mileage and worth it's salt, IMO!

Marie and I were on one of our many camping trips in  northern Colorado. Just south of  the Wyoming border. A dirt road meanders thru the national forest, northwest of Cowdrey all the way to Whiskey Park northeast of Columbine, Clark, and Steamboat Springs. I've hunted Elk and Mule Deer on the West side, but discovered the North Park camping while out exploring the back roads.

The dirt road doesn't get plowed, so we discovered and re-discovered that early season camping doesn't work well, unless you like to use snowshoes or enjoy flirting with danger dodging snow drifts while driving in (did I mention isolation?). But since we are all about isolation, here we are back again! This time with two dogs; Rocky a chocolate lab, and Arrow a Westy terrier.

The road is bordered by miles of beaverponds, stacked one above the next (that's really why we're back). These beavers are busy little maintenance workers. Even in late June, the snow melt can be over the tops of the dams.

We camped at a fire ring site, surrounded by budding aspen and early spring night sounds. One of the many campsites left over from hunting season.

It's tough fishing beaver ponds in spring. The extra moisture makes the dams spongy and even the normally dry area's below the dams are full of water with spring run off. Marie went for a walk and I took the dogs fishing with me.

These ponds were full of hungry brookies. I dont mind getting wet, so was slogging around the shallower edges, weaving back and forth from side to side using the below the dam areas as roadways and climbing up onto the dams to fish when it was clear.

About the third pond, I scrambled  up the dam and made a cast off to the left when I sensed something was up. The dogs had just climbed up and were balancing on the knife edge, where water meets mud, grass and sticks. Balancing or trying to knock me in. I've never figured out which it is.

Anyway, I was going to change a spinner and stopped fishing. As I looked over to the far bank off my right shoulder, I locked eyes with a cow Moose. When I say locked eyes, I mean, she was locked on me and the dogs, not in a casual way, more of a challenging way. I've heard tales of how dangerous a cow moose can be, especially if you get between them and their calves.

"The Moose with the Far Away Eyes"

Hmmm, the brush was mighty thick and calves aren't wearing blaze orange.

The standoff stopped time, and my ears came alive. Behind me, below the dam, I heard something bailing out thru the brush and water. I didn't see it but knew it was a calf. At the same time, the cow plunged into the water and started coming toward me and the dogs.

It was a big pond, and she was swimming and not moving real fast, but I knew I needed to get the heck out of there, pronto.

Have you ever tried to hurry after jumping off a beaver dam? You're knee deep in water, mud, and beaver slashing and it's frickin hard. Did I mention the 1000 lb wild animal with piercing 'far away eyes' silently but judgingly swimming ever closer toward me? Did I mention my moose magnet dogs wondering what was up with the big brown thing behind us and barking a positioning beacon as I tried to escape?

I splashed, struggled, pierced and fell my way out of Beaverville, on to the safety of solid ground. Once there, I heard the sounds of the calf, scared by our forced march thru the brush, it had circled around and back to mama. Whew, so that's what adrenaline does to ya!

Such a cute little fellar
My heart was pounding, my brain was filled with visions of being beaten to death with sharp front hooves and a quick death. It would have been a good ending I suppose, death by Moose,  in the Mud. Probably over in a few minutes, dogs run faster then me..

After the dogs showed up, Marie would be wondering where I was and start freaking out. Wishing that I would have left the car keys in the tent... No cell coverage. Yep, isolation in the wild has both it's up and downsides.


Rory @ R-Dub Outdoors said...

wow thats crazy thanks for posting.

Anonymous said...

Good post, John. Sometimes in fishing it is sure easy to forget our surroundings. Or, should I say we are so in tune to the water and fish that situations like this are on us before we know it. Glad you were able slosh through it to safety. I do like the photo's.

Michael Agneta said...

Good idea not to mess with Mama Moose.

Unknown said...

Great story! I could see you trying to make a quick exit. I had a good laugh, still laughing.

John Delaney said...

We've seen Moose on the trip up there and even around the campsites; Bulls, Cows and calves.

Most times they'll just amble away or even seem aloof and just keep eating the willows. I think the that the dogs influenced the situation in a negative way.. Glad you enjoyed it. It was fun to relive it, writing it down.

Ben G. said...

Um I think I would have had to change my pants after that one great story John.