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Fly Fishing with Mr. Moose

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October 05, 2009

Fly Fishing with Mr. Moose

By Kirk Deeter

Photo by Tim Romano

I've always felt that the main attraction with fly fishing is not so much about the fish as it is about the places, people, and wildlife you encounter along the way.

Of course, some encounters are better than others... some are downright dicey.

Take, for instance, our Fly Talk escapade with Joe Cermele last week.  We wanted nothing more than to show our guest the "whole Colorado fishing deal."  Which we did... floating the rapids, pulling streamers, camping in the cold wind, dodging fall storms (sometimes), throwing dries at rising rainbows, and more... You can expect an exciting edition of "Hookshots" video coming to fieldandstream.com in the future.

For me, the highlight was an unscripted encounter with a young bull moose. We'd hiked up the river and scaled small cliffs to find some killer pocket water on the Colorado River in Gore Canyon.  Just as we made our first casts, the wind started blowing, the rain started pelting, and down the opposite bank walks Bullwinkle.

Now... I don't come face to face with bull moose very often.  But I do know that the guides in Alaska, B.C., the northern Rockies, and up in Maine are often more concerned with moose than they are bears.  Apparently, a moose can ruin your whole day.  

Tim is casting upstream.  Joe is sitting on a rock.  And I'm about to cast when the moose stations himself directly across the river, about 35 yards away, looks straight at me, and takes a big sniff.  Then he steps out into the rapids... decides that's not a good place to cross... finds another spot... steps back in the river...

That's all I had to see.  "Joe, I'm headed downstream," I said.  And I was gone.  Looking over my shoulder, I saw Tim had traded his fly rod for his camera and was taking photos.  Bullwinkle was apparently none too pleased, and he found his crossing spot.  

Next thing I heard a few minutes later was the clatter of crashing rocks, as Tim was sprinting past Joe over the scree, shouting, "Go, go, go!"

Fortunately, the moose figured he had better things to chase (probably cow moose), and broke off his pursuit.

Snakes I hate.  But you can avoid problems if you don't step on them.  The thing with a moose is figuring out how not to have them step on you.

Anyone else had any close moose calls?

Deeter

Comments (16)

Top Rated
All Comments
from bigjake wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

Ive had more close calls than the average person in moose country, for some reason(maybe my height)moose like to get very close to me.Ive been charged by both cows and bulls on 6 seperate occasions.One cow charged so close once that at the time I was wishing that the old Lee Enfield .303 I was carrying still had its tri-point bayonet attached.
Luckily for myself and the local moose population, Ive only had to shooting selfdefense once, years and years ago.

+6 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koldkut wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

Tell me the "Go, go, go!" was caught on video......

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from karmano wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

I've had a few too many close calls on Rock Creek outside of Missoula. Once happened to be in April after I had just slipped in the drink and was freezing headed back to the car to change when I walked around a corner and was ten feet away from a bull and a cow. Needless to say, my senses weren't working quickly thanks to the full body ice cream headache and I just froze. Luckily they were much more interested in eating vegetarian fare. The bonus was that my heart was racing so much that I heated back up in no time.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gil Finn wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

Just last week on the Blue river I had 2 close calls with a BIG bull moose and three cows. The first encounter was cool (mainly because we were a good distance from them). The second (the following day 4 miles from the first sighting) was way too close for comfort. Had to be the same group as it was the BIG guy with three cows again. This time the the bull was on a small island in the center of the river. As we approached he stood up and walked toward us from about 60 feet away. My friend was on the oars and he made a quick move to get over to the bank where we formulated our plan to get past him. Darkness was 20 minutes away and we were both afraid to be near him in the dark. We slid into the trees (leaving him standing, staring at our rubber raft)and hurled medium sized river rocks over the trees at the big beast. After we rained 15 or more rocks in his direction one struck him with a loud thud. The sound that followed was trees cracking, hoofs on rocks and splashing as the moose crossed the channel to the side where the cows were standing. They went into the trees and we made a break to the raft then puckered up as we went past the spot where the big beast was. We made it past and then turned and burned it to the take out. I won't stop fishing the Blue river because of this close encounter. However, Next time I'll be packing heat just in case. My advice to anyone in that area is "Don't bring a flyrod to a Moose fight!"

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

My only question is...How fast does Joe go?

+6 Good Comment? | | Report
from timromano wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

fast, real fast...

+6 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

Salcha River Alaska Aug 87, I remember one day watching Bull Winkle what looked like Christmas Tree Ornaments on its horns. So I pulled out the binoc’s and it was someone’s Salmon Rig!

Then in the same area one of the guys from the shop had a close encounters with a Grizz that stepped out on the other side and came back to Base without his Fly Rod. Later that evening he retrieved his rod and it too had some close encounters, all chewed up!

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from texasfirst wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

In Norway the moose (called "elg" over there) are a real problem to motorists on the winding roads. Norway is still the only place I've actually seen a moose, and yes, it was on a road.
I was very disturbed by a video I saw on the news of a cow moose stomping a man to death on a street in some city in Alaska. I saw that when I was in college back in 1994.
Somehow, moose look twice as menacing as the occasional Brahma bull I occasionally come across hunting whitetail out on the ranch.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Joe_Cermele wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

Oh yeah, I'm like lightning on boulders. More like "left foot here, right foot there, take a breath..."

That was actually my second moose scare. Had a monster stand up right behind me on the Gallatin. Was laying in the high brush and I didn't know it. Guide yelled "I don't care how deep it is in front of you, cross slowly right now."

Moose stamped and snorted but never charged. But I immediately went back to town and charged a new pair of pants on my Mastercard.

+7 Good Comment? | | Report
from 86Ram wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

had a cow moose in fairbanks /chitna area walk by me and my father in law and his brother while we were in a canoe... we got as close to a beaver dam as we could just in case she wanted a ride.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from 86Ram wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

meant chena not chitna

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jere Smith wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

When I lived in Fairbanks there was a cow moose that liked to curl up in our yard and sleep at night, fortunately when we turned on the outside light in the morning she would leave in time for us to go to work!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from steve182 wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

Have never seen a moose in the wild. Just had to add, fishing the Gore range...Awesome.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 86Ram wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

Moose stories bring back memories lol....
My wife and I were fishing on Eilsen and had a cow come out the the woods for a drink ... she saw us huffed a little pinned her ears but we gave her room she turned around and went in the woods to another corner and took a drink down there. We thought we were in for a little run for a minute though.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from chndlr333 wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

wow... a close one

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from beaverlog wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

I was on brule lake in the boundary waters,sitting in my canoe.I was going to hike up a portage to a brook trout lake,when I heard what sounded like a horse running down the trail.I backed my canoe away from shore just in time to avoid having a large cow moose sink me or possibly stomp me.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Wallover wrote 4 years 16 weeks ago

Ok I have a good one its not a moose... its an elk... I was a fishing guide in Jackson Hole for 2 years. My first year out there I was doing some scouting learning the water out there. Went to fish the Firehole river, but not where everyone fishing in the medows or by the hot springs. We wanted to try something new so we fished the upper firehole river ( the section above old faithful you first pass over coming in the park from the South Enterance. On our walk in though the open medow by the road we see an elk come off the hill and walk down towards us. She got so close that the head guide at the time was litterally 3 feet from her fishing in the river. Me being a stupid easterner thinks nothing of it and i continue fishing. I walk down to the head guide to talk about flies to use and such when i hear the elk pounding her feet on the ground behind me. I turn around just intime to see her charging at me. She false charges and stops inches from my outstreached hand in the heisman pose thinking that might help for some weird reason. I could litterally feel her breath on my palm. Having almost deficated in my pants, i keep the front of my body face at her and walk backwards towards the other guide and into the trees for some sort of cover from this massive pissed off elk. We walk up steam and continue fishing and catching some need firehole trout. The other guide wants to go fish the lower strech and me being the adventerous person i am continue to fish the upper stretch. I told him to pick me up on his way back to the ranch and i would meet him by the road on the bridge. He takes off down stream with no incounter from the elk (he tells me later). In the sheer excitement of fishing in yellowstone i forget about the "extra friendly" elk. Later on in the day as i am walking out to meet the other guide i see the elk on the same bank as me. She starts with the hooves pounding on the ground then like a freight train charges at me and stops again right before she tramples me. After i release my Heisman pose she continues to stomp and stare at me from about 8 feet away. I prosede to talk to this aniaml like it can understand me. "ok elk i leave, just let me go","thats a bad elk" and "WHOA WHOA WHOA!!" she false charged me about 3 times and as the fear in you grows you do dumber things. On the 4th charge i slapped her in the face with my fly rod right on the nose, screaming "stop!!" at her. I work my way across the river backwards to keep an eye on her. When i get to the other side my panic subsides and i become a brave pissed off young bastard. She looks like she is about to charge again across the river so i picked up a stick and heaved it at her. I guess this pissed her off even more and she came charging across the river. At this time; keep in mind im in waders,have on my fishpond pack and rod in my hand, i begin to sprint across this open meadow to the road. So picture driving by and seeing a fully geared up fisherman sprinting across a meadow screaming "whoa whoa whoa, bad elk!! stop!!! AHHH" with a massive cow elk on his heels. Funny as im running across the meadow the only thing going through my mind is how will i explain to everyone at the ranch that i got beat up by a cow elk in yellowstone! I reached the far side of the feild and scrambled up the hill to the road. Catching my breath i was watching her pace at the bottom of the hill! It was only 2:30 and the other guide wasnt picking me up till 4 so i walked the 3 miles to one of the pullouts just before Midway guiser basin...everytime i remeber that day i cant help but laugh...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from Joe_Cermele wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

Oh yeah, I'm like lightning on boulders. More like "left foot here, right foot there, take a breath..."

That was actually my second moose scare. Had a monster stand up right behind me on the Gallatin. Was laying in the high brush and I didn't know it. Guide yelled "I don't care how deep it is in front of you, cross slowly right now."

Moose stamped and snorted but never charged. But I immediately went back to town and charged a new pair of pants on my Mastercard.

+7 Good Comment? | | Report
from bigjake wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

Ive had more close calls than the average person in moose country, for some reason(maybe my height)moose like to get very close to me.Ive been charged by both cows and bulls on 6 seperate occasions.One cow charged so close once that at the time I was wishing that the old Lee Enfield .303 I was carrying still had its tri-point bayonet attached.
Luckily for myself and the local moose population, Ive only had to shooting selfdefense once, years and years ago.

+6 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

My only question is...How fast does Joe go?

+6 Good Comment? | | Report
from timromano wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

fast, real fast...

+6 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koldkut wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

Tell me the "Go, go, go!" was caught on video......

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from karmano wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

I've had a few too many close calls on Rock Creek outside of Missoula. Once happened to be in April after I had just slipped in the drink and was freezing headed back to the car to change when I walked around a corner and was ten feet away from a bull and a cow. Needless to say, my senses weren't working quickly thanks to the full body ice cream headache and I just froze. Luckily they were much more interested in eating vegetarian fare. The bonus was that my heart was racing so much that I heated back up in no time.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gil Finn wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

Just last week on the Blue river I had 2 close calls with a BIG bull moose and three cows. The first encounter was cool (mainly because we were a good distance from them). The second (the following day 4 miles from the first sighting) was way too close for comfort. Had to be the same group as it was the BIG guy with three cows again. This time the the bull was on a small island in the center of the river. As we approached he stood up and walked toward us from about 60 feet away. My friend was on the oars and he made a quick move to get over to the bank where we formulated our plan to get past him. Darkness was 20 minutes away and we were both afraid to be near him in the dark. We slid into the trees (leaving him standing, staring at our rubber raft)and hurled medium sized river rocks over the trees at the big beast. After we rained 15 or more rocks in his direction one struck him with a loud thud. The sound that followed was trees cracking, hoofs on rocks and splashing as the moose crossed the channel to the side where the cows were standing. They went into the trees and we made a break to the raft then puckered up as we went past the spot where the big beast was. We made it past and then turned and burned it to the take out. I won't stop fishing the Blue river because of this close encounter. However, Next time I'll be packing heat just in case. My advice to anyone in that area is "Don't bring a flyrod to a Moose fight!"

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

Salcha River Alaska Aug 87, I remember one day watching Bull Winkle what looked like Christmas Tree Ornaments on its horns. So I pulled out the binoc’s and it was someone’s Salmon Rig!

Then in the same area one of the guys from the shop had a close encounters with a Grizz that stepped out on the other side and came back to Base without his Fly Rod. Later that evening he retrieved his rod and it too had some close encounters, all chewed up!

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from texasfirst wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

In Norway the moose (called "elg" over there) are a real problem to motorists on the winding roads. Norway is still the only place I've actually seen a moose, and yes, it was on a road.
I was very disturbed by a video I saw on the news of a cow moose stomping a man to death on a street in some city in Alaska. I saw that when I was in college back in 1994.
Somehow, moose look twice as menacing as the occasional Brahma bull I occasionally come across hunting whitetail out on the ranch.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from 86Ram wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

had a cow moose in fairbanks /chitna area walk by me and my father in law and his brother while we were in a canoe... we got as close to a beaver dam as we could just in case she wanted a ride.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from 86Ram wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

meant chena not chitna

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jere Smith wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

When I lived in Fairbanks there was a cow moose that liked to curl up in our yard and sleep at night, fortunately when we turned on the outside light in the morning she would leave in time for us to go to work!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from 86Ram wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

Moose stories bring back memories lol....
My wife and I were fishing on Eilsen and had a cow come out the the woods for a drink ... she saw us huffed a little pinned her ears but we gave her room she turned around and went in the woods to another corner and took a drink down there. We thought we were in for a little run for a minute though.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from steve182 wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

Have never seen a moose in the wild. Just had to add, fishing the Gore range...Awesome.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from chndlr333 wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

wow... a close one

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from beaverlog wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

I was on brule lake in the boundary waters,sitting in my canoe.I was going to hike up a portage to a brook trout lake,when I heard what sounded like a horse running down the trail.I backed my canoe away from shore just in time to avoid having a large cow moose sink me or possibly stomp me.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Wallover wrote 4 years 16 weeks ago

Ok I have a good one its not a moose... its an elk... I was a fishing guide in Jackson Hole for 2 years. My first year out there I was doing some scouting learning the water out there. Went to fish the Firehole river, but not where everyone fishing in the medows or by the hot springs. We wanted to try something new so we fished the upper firehole river ( the section above old faithful you first pass over coming in the park from the South Enterance. On our walk in though the open medow by the road we see an elk come off the hill and walk down towards us. She got so close that the head guide at the time was litterally 3 feet from her fishing in the river. Me being a stupid easterner thinks nothing of it and i continue fishing. I walk down to the head guide to talk about flies to use and such when i hear the elk pounding her feet on the ground behind me. I turn around just intime to see her charging at me. She false charges and stops inches from my outstreached hand in the heisman pose thinking that might help for some weird reason. I could litterally feel her breath on my palm. Having almost deficated in my pants, i keep the front of my body face at her and walk backwards towards the other guide and into the trees for some sort of cover from this massive pissed off elk. We walk up steam and continue fishing and catching some need firehole trout. The other guide wants to go fish the lower strech and me being the adventerous person i am continue to fish the upper stretch. I told him to pick me up on his way back to the ranch and i would meet him by the road on the bridge. He takes off down stream with no incounter from the elk (he tells me later). In the sheer excitement of fishing in yellowstone i forget about the "extra friendly" elk. Later on in the day as i am walking out to meet the other guide i see the elk on the same bank as me. She starts with the hooves pounding on the ground then like a freight train charges at me and stops again right before she tramples me. After i release my Heisman pose she continues to stomp and stare at me from about 8 feet away. I prosede to talk to this aniaml like it can understand me. "ok elk i leave, just let me go","thats a bad elk" and "WHOA WHOA WHOA!!" she false charged me about 3 times and as the fear in you grows you do dumber things. On the 4th charge i slapped her in the face with my fly rod right on the nose, screaming "stop!!" at her. I work my way across the river backwards to keep an eye on her. When i get to the other side my panic subsides and i become a brave pissed off young bastard. She looks like she is about to charge again across the river so i picked up a stick and heaved it at her. I guess this pissed her off even more and she came charging across the river. At this time; keep in mind im in waders,have on my fishpond pack and rod in my hand, i begin to sprint across this open meadow to the road. So picture driving by and seeing a fully geared up fisherman sprinting across a meadow screaming "whoa whoa whoa, bad elk!! stop!!! AHHH" with a massive cow elk on his heels. Funny as im running across the meadow the only thing going through my mind is how will i explain to everyone at the ranch that i got beat up by a cow elk in yellowstone! I reached the far side of the feild and scrambled up the hill to the road. Catching my breath i was watching her pace at the bottom of the hill! It was only 2:30 and the other guide wasnt picking me up till 4 so i walked the 3 miles to one of the pullouts just before Midway guiser basin...everytime i remeber that day i cant help but laugh...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

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