My first Adirondack moose. In a horse trailer. On Route 8 in Speculator.
Not what I was hoping for.
What started out as a quiet drive to Syracuse to man the New York Outdoor News booth at the state fair turned into a morning of intrigue and suspense.
Turning off the Northway, I settled in for the bone-jarring drive along Route 8 from Loon Lake to Speculator. I found that much of it has now been paved, but on this trip, it was a pickup towing a horse trailer that was slowing me down considerably. Thankfully, I’m a patient person and was in no particular hurry. And there were no places to pass.
He was clipping along on either side of speed limit when we came to the hill just outside of Speculator. The “horse” poked its head up to the bars at the top of the trailer and I caught a quick glimpse.
Something wasn’t right.
The ears were “funny” and one of them had a tag. The snout made a brief appearance and then I saw the pedicle – that portion of the antler left after it falls.
Moose. No doubt about it. In a horse trailer. On Route 8. I’ll be darned.
It was so unusual – and the truck wasn’t a DEC vehicle – that I took down the plate number of the trailer, which I followed to Speculator. I stopped, but the trailer kept going down the road. In hindsight, I wished I’d followed.
But instead I called Steve, still slaving in the office back home.
“Did you get a picture?”
Well, no. Driving along at 40 mph didn’t seem like the time to try to dig out the camera and snap a photo. It was all I could do to keep it on the road while trying to peer into the trailer.
After he hung up, Steve started working the phones to find out what was going on. My phone then began to ring and I eventually gave my statement as if I’d seen a car wreck (instead of almost causing one trying to see inside this moving trailer).
Settled into the state fair, the phone jingled once again.
“Could it have been an elk?” Steve’s voice asked.
“Well, I supposed it could have been.”
“But you’re sure it was a moose.”
“Well, kinda.” My “no doubt” was now wavering, ever so slightly. I’d never tried to ID a moose – or an elk – between the bars of a moving horse trailer. I began to suspect that the dreaded “premature closure” kicked in – that phenomenon experienced by many hunters who want to see something so badly, their minds fill in the blank. In this case, there were a lot of “blanks” left to fill.
As I greeted readers at the fair, the phone calls were feverishly flying throughout DEC. Were they transporting moose that day? Who owned the trailer? What were they doing on Route 8?
The final verdict was, indeed, an elk. Making the move from one captive facility to another; properly permitted and on the up and up.
My first Adirondack moose?
The hunt continues.