Moose Mommas & Their Calves

Join us on June 1 through 5, 2023

Each spring, we like to get out in early June to view the calves. Early in the year, the cows are really protective of their new young that are teetering around on unsteady legs.

In 2021, Duane met a calf still unsure of its long legs on the way out of Malone Bay. Just outside the campground, he came across the two, momma and baby, calf wobbling. Momma gave Duane the look, so he faded behind a tree, prudently.

Standing between Duane and her calf, Momma was a brick wall, yet she gently and patiently waited for her calf to arrange itself on its wobbly legs and teeter in the direction of the forest.

Duane continued along Siskiwit Lake and up toward the Ishpeming Tower.

Momma Moose
Baby Moose

At Windigo, on the trail to the outhouse near Shelter 6, a cow coaxed her wee one to follow here down the trail from the main track into Windigo, to the campground, past the shelters, and into the creek to the other side.

The calf was scared or shy, and momma walked ahead and returned to her at least a half dozen times. It was early, just after sunrise, and no one was up, so we were able to stand and watch.

I filmed her with my phone as she seemed to say, “C’mon, baby.”

Baby did not follow. It would approach along the path, but balked at the intersection where the trail parallel to the shore crossed the one perpendicular to it that led to the water where momma waited.

After a half dozen tries, baby followed through the intersection and, legs in a tangle, it slid, scrambled down the side of the bank and into the creek. The two waded together across, and momma nosed the calf onto the opposite shore before returning to the water to forage spring foliage from the bottom of Washington Creek.

Duane and I sat on the bench at the site next to Shelter 6 to watch the interaction of the two before we went off to the Windigo Store for morning coffee and comradery on the deck.

Momma off to Graze

Cows are unpredictable, especially with young in tow. A couple of years ago, on the Daisy Farm Trail, Duane and I were in an early season hike, and I was walking ahead. This was after the time that we learned that it’s best that I go ahead and he follows to accommodate our differing hiking styles.

Still, he was only about 25 feet behind me. I was walking at a moderate pace and came around a hairpin corner in some evergreens. She was walking toward me at a mooselike pace when our eyes met.

She was a dozen feet in front of me. I think both of us were equally as shocked–eyes like saucers.

We both turned simultaneously, her to my left and toward the forest, me to my right toward a tree. As I turned, I saw two small calves who had not been visible behind the bulk of their mother. I bolted behind the tree.

All three were gone in the split second before Duane crossed those 25 feet.

For moment, I stood, heart racing. It occurred to me just how close that call was.

“Damn!” Duane uttered. “I just saw her butt.”

Moose Mama’s Aggressive Posture, Defending Her Sleeping Calf

Moose Mamas don’t back down. This momma refused to give way when Duane and I were rushing toward Washington Creek to make it to get supplies from the Windigo Store before it closed at end of day. When we came to her, we had an hour and a half to make the 30 minute hike left into Washington Creek.

She snorted and stomped at us and refused to move on. We were a little surprised because we didn’t expect the behavior.

While we know moose are boss on the island, they are generally not aggressive for no apparent reason. Duane tried to get her to move on by waving his arms, but she did not.

She snorted again and trotted a few steps toward us, and we scrambled behind some trees alongside the trail.

After a half hour, though, we saw baby stand up from the bushes. Momma shepherded her wee one from next to the trail and into the woods.

We jogged the last couple miles and made it to Windigo about 10 minutes before the store closed, too late for pizza.

We have availability in our June 1 to 5 excursion for the best opportunities to see calves in the early season.

Male and Female Twin Yearlings

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