Greetings from our vacation in New Hampshire!
Being from the suburbs of New Jersey, we were pretty excited (and surprised) the first time we saw a sign like this.
We spoke to a few (many) locals and learned that, to them, moose are relatively common - perhaps not as common as deer are to us Jesey folk, but common enough that every local had had some kind of interaction.
So we booked a Moose Safari. A local gentleman outfitted a bus with external floodlights and takes groups of tourists up to the more remote areas of the State and finds moose.
So at 8:00 last night, we boarded the bus.
It was a long drive - we headed toward Mout Washington into the New Hampshire State Forest. On the way, the driver played a few videos for us. We learned that the moose in New Hampshire were all Eastern Moose which live in eastern Ontario, Quebec, the Atlantic Provinces in Canada, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and even as far south as Rhode Island, Connecticut, and northern New York. Female moose are called cows and they can grow to about 600 pounds. Male moose are called bulls and they are about 6 1/2 feet tall at the shoulder, as much as 9 feet long, and can weight almost 1000 pounds. Moose breed in the fall and have their calves in the spring. We also learned that the population of moose in New Hampshire was around 10,000 and that it was about half of what it had been a few years ago because of a tick borne disease.
When the sun had set and the skies were dark, the driver started using the flood lights to illuminate the edges of the road into the woods.
Within a few minutes, we saw our first moose! It was an adult cow! She was gone before we could get a photo of her. Even though the driver had warned us that moose are frightened by voices and we had to be incredibly silent when there was a moose in sight, that first sighting was so exciting that we all forgot. Minutes later, we saw a small bull. He also quickly ran into the woods.
A few miles up, one of the passengers said that she thought she saw something so the driver turned around and re-traced his path more slowly. Sure enough, about 20 feet from the bus there was a moose feeding in the tall grass. This time, everyone on the bus remembered to be quiet and we were able to get a few photos! Since the moose's head was down, we couldn't tell if it was a male or a female, but 2 minutes later, he looked up to see us and the entire bus gasped.
He was beautiful! Wayne quickly snapped as many pictures as he could while this bullmoose essentially posed for us for about 4 minutes and then, growing bored of us I suppose, he meandered back into the woods!
The driver continued on. We saw a cow with her bull yearling. The driver told us that's a good thing for him - tourists enjoy seeing pairs of moose - but it's unusual for moose to be together unless they are mother and child or twins. He also said it was a bad thing for the moose population because by this time of year the cow should have had a new calf and the fact that she was traveling with her yearling meant that she hadn't gotten pregnant last fall. The evening got capped off by another sighting of the magnificent bullmoose who didn't stay long enough to pose but gave us all a great view!
What an incredible night!