October is a good time to celebrate one of the largest mammals native to North America, the stately Moose (Alces alces). These mid-autumn weeks are rutting season, when moose do their best to ensure the production of offspring.
Our thoughts turned to moose on a recent trip to northern Maine. We saw a few of the majestic beasts atop trailers being hauled behind pick-up trucks, as Maine’s highly-regulated and restricted moose hunting season had just begun.
We were in the area to check out one of the newest additions to our National Parks system, the Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument (KWWNM).
After driving along the KWWNM Loop Road, stopping at scenic vistas and taking a few jaunts to explore short side trails, we finished the day with a hike along the historic Wassataquoik Stream—used in the 1840s by loggers to access stands of virgin white pines, and later for driving spruce logs downstream.
Explorers, naturalists and sportsmen—including Henry David Thoreau in 1857 and Theodore Roosevelt in 1879—used Wassataquoik Stream in the latter half of the 19th century as an upstream route to access Mount Katahdin.
When we were not musing on Wassataquoik Stream’s distinguished history or looking for boreal birds (we saw two Black-backed Woodpeckers!), we were thinking about moose. That is because we were frequently reminded during our hike that moose are prominent denizens of the northwoods—not because we spotted any, but because we had to watch where we stepped along a trail dotted with piles of fresh moose droppings.
There were also recent moose tracks everywhere.
Although we didn’t see a living moose that day, like anyone who has spent time hiking in northern Maine or canoeing in Canada, we have seen our share of moose in the wild.
Occasionally we also hear first-hand stories of the worst kind of moose encounters: those involving cars. Last October, Kass’ sister was driving along a country road in northern Maine and hit a moose that bolted out in front of her car.
Coincidentally, a teenager had been videotaping the bull moose in a field next to his house and was still filming as it darted across the road, so he recorded the moose/car crash—the photo above is a still shot from his videotape showing the moose just before its collision with the car.
Luckily, the driver was going slowly so nobody was hurt, although since the moose ran off into the woods we don’t know its ultimate fate.
Now to transition to our indoor encounters with moose, namely those we’ve experienced as antiques dealers. Moose have long been a favorite subject for fine artists and folk artists to depict in a wide range of mediums. Moose in many renditions have always been a popular rustic accessory.
So here is a look back at some of the hundreds of moose we have known—and owned—over the past 25+ years in the antiques business.
The Future of Moose
While we’re confident that moose antiques will always have a strong market, we’re not as optimistic about the future stability of wild moose populations. Milder, shorter winters in the north country favor the longevity of winter ticks that feed on, weaken and even directly kill moose.
We hope that moose will survive these challenges and thrive for millennia to come—for their own sake, and also for the awe they inspire in artists, in everyone who sees them in the wild, and in those who are happy just knowing that they are out there, roaming the wilderness.