Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve Moose Visitation



Does anybody ever get used to this? If I live here for twenty years, I don't think I will. I know, I know, it is so common around here people just yawn and say, "Oh, yeah, another moose." It is a frequent occurrence for people who live in downtown Anchorage, for Pete's sake (and Anchorage isn't really IN Alaska, though, as they say, you can see Alaska from there).



This does NOT happen in Bethel. In my ten years of living there, I never once saw a moose within a hundred miles of Bethel. Occasionally one would wander into the area and you'd hear about it all over town for days, along with plenty of envy for the guy who saw it first and got it into his freezer to feed the family for the next several months.



With the five-year moratorium on moose hunting on the lower Kuskokwim River, now in its fourth year, the moose population in the area is coming back strongly. A few miles upriver from Bethel where there are stands of cottonwood and fir trees, signs of moose presence are everywhere: bark stripped from the trees at the six-foot level, snow churned up, big hoof prints, and lots of piles of moose turds. But they don't wander into town, and surely are not browsing the shrubberies around people's homes.

Yesterday this young moose cow and her calf were doing exactly that. Mother and I were inside doing something or other when Mother looked out the window and said "Oh, my goodness! There is a moose right next to the house!"

And she was, just about two feet from the back door. She turned and looked directly at me, and was completely unperturbed. I was snapping photos like mad through the window while she continued to munch down our bushes around the deck. She reminded me of the young moose on the opening sequence of the old TV show "Northern Exposure" (which, by the way, is available from Netflix if you are interested). Clearly, moose have not been hunted around here for a very long time. She had no fear, despite having a young calf.



We never got a good look at the calf. It was on the far side of a downed tree, eating the tips. As mom moved off slowly, the calf trailed her, and I could see that it was very young and small, probably only eight or nine months old.

What a Christmas Eve gift! Mother and I were both elated to have had such a close encounter, and one that lasted a good half hour or so. I do have to admit to having had a few thoughts about how tasty that moose would be, but I am just not a hunter. Short of my family's starvation, I would not look down the barrel and pull the trigger on Bullwinkle. But I'm happy to eat him when someone else does, and extremely good eating it is, too.

It is an incredible feeling to have wild animals in your immediate environment. We have black and brown bears around here too, though I am a little less excited to see them next to the back door. Gawd, I love Alaska!

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10 Comments:

Blogger RunninL8 said...

It's always a rush when the moose are on the property! We STILL fall all over each other running to grab the cameras and get to the door or window in time to get a shot and quietly observe!
An especially wonderful gift on Christmas!
Happy Holidays to you!!!

Thursday, December 25, 2008 12:48:00 PM  
Blogger Karen Travels said...

I love seeing them in Anchorage. And I totally agree Anchorage isn't Alaska, but thankfully it is only a short drive away!

I have a moose on my blog today that I saw in town on Christmas Eve!

Thursday, December 25, 2008 4:18:00 PM  
Blogger Trauma Junkie said...

Wow, how neat.

I bet that is a really nice surprise.

Merry Christmas to you.

Thursday, December 25, 2008 4:53:00 PM  
Blogger KuskoMama said...

That's really cool! I grew up with such things occuring regularly out my front door - Mat-Su Valley back when it was still sort of rural.

Enjoy your Christmas! Neat pictures!

Thursday, December 25, 2008 7:17:00 PM  
Blogger Dr. A said...

Great pics! Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 28, 2008 10:28:00 AM  
Blogger TDB said...

I grew up in the Valley, but moved to Anchorage after college (more job oportunities) and I will say I see a lot more moose here than I did growing up. The unfortunate thing is that they are not afraid of people (or cars) which is why there are those lovely # moose killed signs on the Glenn. I have never gotten tired of moose even though I have spent my entire life around them.

Sunday, December 28, 2008 11:54:00 AM  
Blogger midnightbunny said...

Oh my gosh, such beautiful pictures. Thank you so much for sharing them. We don't have any snow here in our area just yet (The Carolina's), although it will snow here in Jan/Feb. Still though ... if/when it does ... we won't have any moose to see! Deer, but no moose. :)

I'll have to live vicariously through your pics. :)

Monday, December 29, 2008 1:03:00 PM  
Blogger Pharmacy God said...

My mother has several pictures of moose looking in the windows from my early years in Anchorage.

We moved to the lower 48 shortly before my third birthday. All I can remember is a huge moose head mounted over the sofa in my babysitter's loving room.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008 1:12:00 PM  
Anonymous geena said...

Forgive my ignorance, but I don't really understand what you mean by "Anchorage is not in Alaska." Can you explain?

Great pics, btw :)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009 7:18:00 PM  
Blogger The Tundra PA said...

Thanks, everyone, for your comments. I love getting them.

Geena, what is meant by Anchorage "not being in Alaska" is that it is a big city, much like any other. With prettier scenery than most, granted, but it is still a big city with all the amenities. Population of the metropolitan area is well over 300,000 and comprises nearly half the population of the entire state. Most of the rest of Alaska gives a new definition to "rural". Anchorage is sometimes referred to as Seattle's satellite neighborhood. Alaskans who don't live in Anchorage don't consider it "the real Alaska" (in-state snobbery of a sort, I guess). But as Karen Travels says above, the real Alaska is only a short drive from Anchorage.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009 8:49:00 PM  

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