I’ve had a few strange encounters with wildlife over the years as a nature photographer. One morning, while hiking on a wooded trail, I was attacked by a northern goshawk (it dive bombed me and hit my head). Once, while photographing a Canada goose at close range, it looked me directly in the eyes and then pooped on my foot (I was wearing sandals). And there was the time I was sitting in my photo blind and a chipmunk climbed up on me and bit my ear. But of all the weird wildlife moments of my life, it was a close encounter with a young moose in Algonquin Provincial Park that takes the cake as the strangest of all.
I was driving across the southern section of the park on Hwy. 60 and noticed a couple of cars on the side of the road along with people pointing at something. A quick scan found the attraction — a young moose walking on the edge of a bog. There was very little traffic, so I decided to stop for a few shots. You can never have enough photos of moose!
My camera gear is always conveniently ready in the back of my van, and it takes less than a minute to pop up the tripod and mount the lens and camera to the gimbal head. In that span of time, the moose came up onto the road and was walking in my direction. I figured it would be a great opportunity to snap a few portraits with my 500mm lens with a distant, out-of-focus background. This is where things began to get weird. The moose was not only staring me in the eyes, but also walking directly towards me. Now, I should mention that it wasn’t a big moose, but even small moose are still very big!!! And although it wasn’t acting in a threatening way, being “gently” trampled by a moose would still make for a very bad day.
I very slowly walked backwards towards my vehicle as the moose got closer and closer. As I tucked in behind the van, the moose walked up to within two metres of me. My heart was pounding from the exhilaration of being literally face-to-face with a moose. It wasn’t being aggressive — in fact, it seemed the opposite, as if it was lonely and wanted me to reach out and comfort it. Since I don’t profess to be an expert in moose psychology, I opted not to pat it on the head and instead just watched it from behind the safety of my van. After a minute of looking into each other’s eyes, the moose turned away and walked down the road. It was one of the strangest, yet most magical experiences I’ve ever had with a wild animal in my life.
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