Adirondacks Carefree: Mission Moose

WANTED: Eastern Moose, Alces alces americana

Place: Adirondack Mountains, New York

Time: Early July

Dossier: Standing 5 to 6 ½ feet tall at the shoulder and weighing 600 to 1500 pounds, the Eastern Moose can be identified by its large, bulbous nose, heavy body, long spindly legs, and the enormously broad, flat antlers worn by the male of the species.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it: Join an elite team of Expeditionary Agents to track down this ungainly critter, isolate it, and shoot it. With a camera.

This will be no walk in the park. Despite its size, the Moose is not easily seen. Previous searches at Upper Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Bog River Falls, Simon Pond and Pitchoff Mountain have failed to produce moose. Where to next? The fate of the expedition lies in your hands.

Choose wisely.

Ah! The Owen Pond Trail in the Sentinel Range Wilderness Area. Mixed coniferous and hardwood forest with ponds and wetlands, abounding in the terrestrial and aquatic plants and tree shoots that the Moose loves to eat. This is PRIME Moose Habitat.

You have chosen wisely indeed.

What have you found here? No, I am afraid that those holes are much too small for a Moose. A woodpecker, no doubt; perhaps a Pileated, or a Sapsucker.

A stream wanders down a series of cascades, cool and shady.

Your team seems easily distracted.

Assistant Expeditionary Agent Robb and Chief Expeditionary Agent Don  appear rooted in place, stumped by this strange apparition.

Somehow this tree has managed to grow on top of a large boulder.

As a seedling it must have found enough soil to sustain it, and as it grew its roots wrapped around the boulder down to the ground.



But not a Moose.

Have you forgotten your mission?

Perhaps Assistant Expeditionary Agent Robb will spy one from atop the boulder?

Perhaps not.

I see your expeditionary party has found the Owen Pond of legend. Its lovely blue waters sparkle beneath a spur of Kilburn Mountain. Yes, this is PRIME Moose Habitat.

Your team has found something here. What could it be? A group of White Admiral butterflies gathering minerals from wet places in the soil. Lovely.

Still, not a Moose.

And what have we here? A long pile of branches and sticks. A VERY long pile, topped with lots of jewelweed and other plants. No, I don’t think a Moose made this.

It’s a beaver dam, and a big one; old, too, by the looks of it. Behind it is a flooded wetland, a beaver pond. This is PRIME Moose Habitat. Do you see one?

Along the path blooms a little wildflower. A Spring Beauty in summer. Beautiful.

You’ve arrived at Copperas Pond. This must be PRIME Moose Habitat. What might you find here?

One can almost imagine a Moose swimmingly strongly across the pond, antlers held high and dripping.

The rocky cliffs of Wilmington Notch look very tempting for rock climbers. The peak beyond is the famous Whiteface Mountain.

It’s time for you to turn back. Back past the beaver pond, Owen Pond and the butterflies. Your team –

Wait! What is this?

Why, you’ve found a Common Loon! Far across the pond, he shows off his checkerboard breeding feathers. This is a lovely discovery!

And yet, it’s not a Moose. You have seen nary a one.

Your Expeditionary Team has failed in its mission to locate Alces alces americana. Failed, in PRIME Moose Habitat, no less.

Don’t be too hard on yourself. Many have tried, few have succeeded.

After all – tomorrow is another day.