A Little About Me

Baxter State Park -- Bull Moose Sparring

Once again we were out looking for that elusive big bull moose, and not having much luck on the Golden Road, we decided to head back to Sandy Stream Pond.  The weather was warm about 75 most of the day and when it is this warm moose are generally found in two places, deep in the forest or in the water.

We met up with Vicki Nolan on the way back from Kidney Pond and we all headed over to Sandy Stream.
As we were setting up our gear and preparing for the small hike out to the pond several people indicated to us that there was a pair of bull moose in the pond fighting.

Well with a little extra adrenalin from that news we headed to the pond as fast as we could navigate that wooden boardwalk and uphill climbs.  When we got to the viewing area there were two bull moose in the water feeding on vegetation in the pond.  

A little about moose ---  The moose is the world's largest deer and can run up to 35 miles per hour or can easily swim 10 miles.  Moose will eat willow, birch and aspen twigs, horsetail, sedges, roots and pond weeds and grasses.  Moose eat leaves, twigs, buds and the bark of some woody plants, as well as lichens, aquatic plants and some of the taller herbaceous land plants.  Moose can actually feed under water.

These two moose were feeding on the pond grasses for quite some time.  We arrived at the pond right around 3:30, for the better part of an hour we watched the two bulls, the bigger of the two is about 5 years old and has a nice size rack, the smaller is about 2 or 3 years old and is a spike or as we called him spikey.

Since Sandy Stream Pond is at the base of mount Katahdin and is surrounded by mountains on two sides, the light falls off pretty fast in the late afternoon.  
On this particular day we also had some clouds around the summit of Katahdin that were blocking any sunlight that was left.

We did the best we could and dialed our ISO up to 1600 and even 3200 at times.  Lucky for me I chose to bring the Nikon 200-400 VR with me today.  As it turned out I would have loved to have the extra reach of the 600 but I was glad I had the VR since the shutter speeds were seldom over 1/125 of a second.  Most of the shots were about 1/80 or 1/60.  I really thought they would not be much good, given the circumstances, but I was later very surprised.

After some time spikey moved toward the shore and started to rub his antlers on a sapling nearby, this is a typical male behavior this time of year.  He was trying to provoke a response from the older bull feeding in the pond but that bull was much to busy eating to even care.  So spikey moved on and out of site.

After some more time elapsed the bigger bull finally emerged from the pond and headed straight for the sapling that spikey was rubbing.  This bull rubbed it too, but because of the size of his antlers he looked more like he was going to break it.  After rubbing it a few times he stood and waited --- We guessed he was waiting for spikey to come back out and play.


Sure enough it wasn't long before spikey came out and the two started to lock antlers.  It was a playful encounter and they were just testing each others strength.  One thing about spikey, as many times as the big bull pushed him back he always came back for more.  These two played for the better part of and hour and it was already after 5pm before we realized it.  Since sunset was about 5:40 we needed to get out of there and back to the truck before we had to do it in twilight.


It was a marvelous few hours, Joe, Bill and myself had never seen anything like that before in all the years we have been looking for moose.  Vicki (moose lady) of course said she sees this kind of thing all the time.