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January 22, 2021

Memorable Moose Encounters and Why You Should Love Wildlife

Have you ever seen a Moose in person? If so, you surely remember the sense of awe and wonder - and perhaps, a healthy dose of fear 😬 - as you gazed upon one of nature’s giants.

Wildlife artist Jeanne Warren has had some memorable moose encounters that have left her forever changed and helped to fuel her passion for painting wildlife.  And we are convinced that every human being should experience wildlife in some way, no matter how small!  

Learn the story behind the paintings and find inspiration to get out in the wild for some adventure of your own.  

Stories Behind the Art

“The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure.” 
~ Christopher McCandless
Mountains in Glacier National Park in Montana

The adventure of a lifetime can begin with a single step.  In the summer of 2015, Jeanne hit the road for the gorgeous state of Montana where months of art shows, networking with fellow artists, and miles upon miles of trails in Glacier National Park awaited her.  

Little did she know the diversity of wildlife she would encounter.  With the exhilarating thrill of adventure and a healthy dose of respect for the wildness and unpredictability of the setting, Jeanne returned ready to put brush to canvas and share her experiences with the world.

A wild blue huckleberry
“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” 
~ John Muir

“Blue wild huckleberries - slurrrp!  They are so fun to find and sit and pick in the warm sunshine.  I get lost in the berries - oh they are soooo delicious and one of my favorite parts of hiking in Glacier.  Soon to be wild blue huckleberry pie!” 

And then a chance encounter...

“I was coming back down the mountain from yet another 6-mile one-way hike, and there he was!  Wow!  He was behind some trees.  He was only medium-sized, and his big rack of antlers was covered in velvet.  So I knew he was less threatening with a tender rack.  But I still didn’t feel completely comfortable. His ears were forward, just curious about us.” 

“Moose Watching” Oil Painting by Jeanne Warren

And on another hike, a surprise out in the lake...

Jeanne Warren observing a trophy bull moose from a safe distance in Montana

“It was incredible to watch this majestic champion size moose eating aquatic plants, water rolling from his enormous rack!  I was at a safe vantage point and able to snap a few pictures.” 

“Heavy Shield Warrior” Oil Painting by Jeanne Warren
"Moose Babies" Oil Painting by Jeanne Warren

“It was adorable to watch twin calves with their mother.  With long, awkward legs and short necks, the babies have to get down on their front knees to feed.  Once full they will continue to play by chasing anything that moves, jumping and flipping through the air like a baby goat. All the while protective mom is standing by watching, ready to attack at any moment.  Never get in between mama and baby!”

About the Moose

Close up of a bull moose
“We cannot protect something we do not love, we cannot love what we do not know, and we cannot know what we do not see.  Or hear.  Or sense.” 
~ Richard Louv

Moose are massive and, therefore, quite hilarious!  

As the largest member of the deer species, bulls weigh around 1500 lbs (700 kg) and stand at around 7 ft tall at the shoulders.  Cows are about half that size.  

With thick skin and dense fur coats, they can withstand harsh winter conditions but do poorly in the heat.  

Moose eat woody plants, shrubs, bark, and water plants.  A male moose can eat up to 70 lbs of food per day during the summer!  

Moose are great swimmers and use the water to cool off on warmer days.  They also feast on aquatic plants on the bottom and can dive up to 20 feet.  Their big nostrils act as valves to keep water out while underwater.  

A big bull moose observed by Jeanne Warren

Moose have been called “gentle giants” because of their tendency to not attack unless threatened.  But with the power behind those hooves and the size of some of the bull’s racks (up to 6 ft long and 35 lbs!), humans should be very cautious around these giants.  

It is generally safe to watch from at least 50 ft away and be aware of body language signs that the moose is feeling threatened (staring straight at you, ears laid back, hair standing on end, Etc).  They will attack if they sense you as a threat.  

Also, keep in mind the seasons of the year that moose will be more territorial and aggressive.  

  • Spring and Early Summer - there are new calves and protective mothers.  
  • Fall - breeding season, accompanied by skirmishes between bulls to impress the females.  

Moose have ultra-sharp senses!  

  • Their eyes can move independently giving them a 360-degree view
  • A sharp sense of smell and good hearing allows them to see and hear danger before it approaches

They are incredibly fast (average of 22 mph) and usually able to outrun a threat, making the old, sick, and young the most vulnerable.  

Calves especially need the protection of their mothers to survive.  They have a high mortality rate (sometimes greater than 50%) and are highly vulnerable to predators like wolves, black bears, and grizzlies.  

Curious to learn more?  

Here are some documentaries about Moose:

A Dose of the Wild

Moose calf resting in the grass
“When struck by awe in the presence of a wild animal, most people feel both outside their comfort zone and, at the same time, the exhilaration of wonder.”
~ Richard Louv (from "Our Wild Calling")

There is a great sense of awe and wonder that comes from contact with the wild.  Think of that look of pure joy and excitement as a child reaches out to touch the fur of an animal.  You don’t have to teach a child to appreciate animals.  You just have to expose them.  

The wild is not safe.  It is unpredictable.  We are not the center of the universe and stand vulnerable to unknown threats.  Because of this, we learn humility, respect, and common sense.  We share in the same fight for survival as all the other creatures.  

We are a part of something bigger than ourselves.  Once we experience and get to know the unpredictable wilderness, our sense of respect and humility naturally grows.  

We begin to care about the bigger picture, and our perspective shifts to include stories not our own.  Because they are wild and free, it is an honor to observe and learn about them.  

Small chickadee eating seed out of a hand

You don’t have to have a moose in your backyard or travel to Montana to have encounters with wildlife.  Whether it is an eagle soaring above you in the sky, squirrels bickering as they warn each other of your coming presence, or a chickadee that visits your backyard flitting through the trees.  Once we get to know the creatures that share this earth with us, we begin to care.  

So next time you have a chance to look into the eyes of a wild animal, no matter how small, remember the moose, and find joy in a connection with the wild.  As humans on this earth, we are a part of something much bigger than ourselves.  

Closeup of a moose cow with her ears perked and looking at the viewer
“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens and they will tell you…Who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this?”
~ Job 12:7, 10 (ESV)

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