AMC Outdoors, September 2001
By Michele Pavitt
Author and photographer Bill Silliker Jr. has been coaching wildlife enthusiasts for years on how to find a moose and how to do it properly. In early summer, this task can be as easy as generously applying bug repellent, hiking to a boggy area in moose country, and waiting a few minutes. But the animals can be more difficult to find later in summer and during the mating season in early fall.
How to find them
Here are a few rules of thumb that Silliker offers in his book, Maine Moose Watcher’s Guide, for finding a moose to watch or photograph:
- Go to an area where moose are abundant. See the list below for starters. For more ideas, visit www.wildlifewatcher.com or contact the chamber of commerce in the area you plan to visit.
- Consider the season. Moose watching is easiest in late spring and summer as the animals feed on aquatic plants or cruise the roadside in search of road salt to supplement their diets. In fall, their whereabouts are less predictable due to the rut. But they are still likely to frequent their early-summer feeding spots.
- Search at the right time of day. Moose are crepuscular, meaning they are most active at dawn and dusk. Find them at feeding sites early in the morning and again late in the afternoon.
- Be patient. Silliker has found that waiting is the best strategy for observing moose. It helps to be able to identify moose tracks. The two-toed print is up to six inches long (about the size of a dollar bill) and pointed in the front.
- Drive carefully on roads in moose country. Since the animals frequent the roads, accidents are common. If you pull your vehicle over to observe moose, park safely.
- Beware the warning signs. Steer clear of aggressive bulls in rut and protective cow moose with their young. If you are near a moose that drops its ears or bristles its neck, find cover behind some trees. If the moose charges, find a tree to climb. Keep a healthy distance between you and any moose.
- Don’t get shot. When moosing in fall, know the hunting season and wear blaze-orange clothing in the woods.
Where to find them
Here are a few prime moose-watching spots in the Northeast:
- Berlin area. In this region along the Maine border, moose are so common that local entrepreneurs offer bus trips for moose viewing.
- Pittsburg area. At the northernmost tip of New Hampshire, the 20 miles of Route 3 from Pittsburg to the Canadian border is known as Moose Alley.
- Baxter State Park. Seventeen miles north of Millinocket, this park is a reliable moose-watching destination. Try looking at Sandy Stream Pond, Russell Pond, Dwelley Pond, and others.
- Moosehead Lake region. Many guide services in Greenville, due west of Millinocket, and nearby Rockwood offer moose cruises and safaris.
- Rangeley Lake region. About 30 miles northwest of Farmington, Route 16 from Rangeley to Stratton features several likely hot spots, including a gravel pit and nearby bog. Moose can often be spotted right along — or in — the road.
- Northeast Kingdom region. Although Vermont is known more for its cows than its moose, the Northeast Kingdom region is where you’re likely to find moose.
—Michele Pavitt, a freelance writer who lives in Brunswick, Maine, wrote “Moosology 101,” which appears in the September 2001 issue of AMC Outdoors.