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Dougskijors

Canada
571 Posts

Posted - 12/23/2007 :  6:36:50 PM  Show Profile  Visit Dougskijors's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hi;
I am skijoring in an area with alot of moose sign - droppings & fresh tracks on the trails. The dogs are highly interested and alert. One of my dogs has delusions of grandeur and will take on anything non-human.
I have read some passing comments on the forum about people having trouble with moose.
Are they likely to charge or be aggressive?
We are now past the mating season I think.

A happy Jul season to everyone.

Fast E

USA
2238 Posts

Posted - 12/23/2007 :  6:57:59 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Biggest mistake one can make is following one down the trail--they will be moving to get a way from you and start swinging thier head from side to side watching you--thats the sign they are about to turn and fight.
They are a 'flight-or-'fight' animal--when they are flighting which is what will usually be thier first choice let them as they will usually only fight when they think they have no choice.
I suggest stopping and letting them get out of your way and off the trail if possible-hoot and holler at them--clap your hands etc-if they refuse--turn around and go back.
There have been many on the trails in Alaska that get so used to teams that they aren't afraid and sometimes get nasty and want to fight rather than flight.
If one does charge your dogs or team--get out of the way and do not get knocked down by them--they can/will kick hard and deadly accurate.
It might be sad and stressful to see your dogs getting kicked and stomped but you can always get more dogs--'your' life happens once(near as i can figure) and to lose it battling a moose would be senseless and rather painfull.

www.fastestreeperkennel.com
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Sledkids

Canada
236 Posts

Posted - 12/23/2007 :  7:56:30 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Bear spray! The good quality cans of bear spray can spray up to 30 feet. Research on the internet of different instances where Bear Spray has been used on animals other than bears. We have a lot of moose where we live. I don't like going out on the trails in the winter because of them, but if prepared you might have a chance. If it is really cold you have to put them under 1 layer of clothing so getting them out in a pinch could be tricky depending on how you set it up. Something to think about.

Tracey :)
abundantacres.ca
Nimpo Lake, BC
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Sledkids

Canada
236 Posts

Posted - 12/23/2007 :  11:17:53 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
No offense taken! :) However, I am not allowed to pack a firearm and a .44 would send my very small self sailing. My dad is amazing with all types of firearms (and other weapons). He caries a .44 pistol AND bear spray. He says that he could shoot it but would rather give it a chance to live another day. Any of the guns that I can comfortably handle would only tick a moose off. We have to do what we can! There may have been times when bear spray may not have worked(especially if it was windy), but we live way out in the bush (3 hours from the nearest city) and bear spray is a part of daily life. There is the risk of the animal running you and team over after you have sprayed it in the face but it has saved lives in many instances. Who knows? It's better than nothing and may help if you are not able to turn a team around for what ever reason. One of the trails that I train on has lots of corners and is narrow. There are moose tracks on it all the time. If we whip around a corner on top of a bedded moose I don't think I would be able to turn around. Alot of times my kids are in the sled with me (though not often on this trail). I need to know that I have a chance of defending them. I would never be able to out run a moose, kids or no kids. But again, we do what we can.

Tracey :)
abundantacres.ca
Nimpo Lake, BC
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Powderhound

USA
51 Posts

Posted - 12/24/2007 :  08:56:54 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I train in state parks and would risk getting arrested for carrying a firearm, nevermind killing a moose. I carry a flare gun. It has a 500 foot range, will not kill a moose but will hopefully deter it. I have not had to use it yet, but one never knows what is waiting around the next corner.

Powderhound
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dbseavey

USA
207 Posts

Posted - 12/24/2007 :  4:01:02 PM  Show Profile  Visit dbseavey's Homepage  Reply with Quote
doug,
the main factors with moose is the snow depth, and your ability to get stopped before you run into them. if the snow is deep, the moose prefer to stay on the trail than risk getting stuck in the deep, and then they turn and fight (i've had to shoot them). just like eddie says, try to scare them away, but don't hesitate to turn around and go back. that is the only time our teams are allowed to turn around in the trail.

they are attracted to and will chase a light. if you are running at night, turn off your headlight. several times i have passed within an arms length of a moose with my light off. it took us a couple moose attacks to figure out the were usually after the light, not the team.


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Lindy

USA
58 Posts

Posted - 12/24/2007 :  8:34:22 PM  Show Profile  Visit Lindy's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Moose are an every day event in northern Maine- both on the trail and in the road. It is like playing the lottery trying to get somewhere safely by car or dogteam.

I never knew that they chase light or about the swinging head. Thanks for the information.

A musher friend says to try and "read" the moose to decide what to do- I never knew exactly what he meant. Now I know to just turn back.

I had heard stories of mushers successfully passing them in the trails- I sort of tried it while they were still standing nearby. After reading this thread- I will not do that again.

I am glad this came up. It simplifies it for me using terms of fight or flight. Are there any other body languages to watch for when the unexpected happens?
Lindy
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Sirius

USA
557 Posts

Posted - 12/25/2007 :  07:26:11 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I don't have any facts but in my opinion all the moose I run into are extremely near sighted. They never seem to move in the direction that I think would be in their best interest. Even when they appear to be trying to move away from me they go in the wrong direction as I view it. I am sure they don't think of trails they same way I do. I don't carry any deterrent anymore. I have found I have all I can do to either continue on at the right time or to stand on the brakes and hooks and hang on to hold back. I am not under enough control to turn around with a moose in front of us on my snow. I have seen moose safely off the trail on my right notice us and then it's path of flight is to run right towards us, or the packed trail, and travel right over my gangline at a direct right angle to continue trotting into the bush on my left. At the moment the dogs are underneath them they appear to me to be looking down from side to side like they just noticed the dogs at just that moment. On the plus side two weeks ago I picked up another nice moose shed freshly dropped right on the trail to add to my collection. Once in the Fall I was trying to impress a girl down by the river and made some grunts like a moose. We then heard trees getting crushed as a big bull ran across the river right over the tops of the willows and alders to twenty feet in front of us. It took us thirty minutes to back out of there with this moose snorting right in our faces. Making human sounds and firing the single shot 20 gauge had no effect. I can't say they have no brains whatsoever because I am not so bright myself. So I think other things are way more important to moose than vision.
Neil Rasmussen
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vetbills

USA
327 Posts

Posted - 12/25/2007 :  12:37:28 PM  Show Profile  Visit vetbills's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I was charged by a moose twice last year. The thing that struck me both times was how silently they moved through the woods and then were just suddenly standing on the trail. In both cases I stopped and waited to see what was going to happen. Both moose gave me all the tell tale signs they were upset - ears flat, bristles up, pawing and stamping the ground and one made this sound that I can only call a growl.
Both times I was running a 6-dog team. Another musher had told me that a moose will rear up and jump into a team and that my best bet was to let the dogs go and run off to the side and get behind a tree. Of course finding a good tree to hide behind in this part of Alaska can be a bit of a challenge is spots.
In the first case I stood my ground and just as the moment I was going to bail, the moose veered off into the woods. I felt like I was caught unprepared and now when I run I carry a gun with enough firepower to protect myself and the dogs. In the second case the noise of a round going into the chamber was enough to get the moose to move on.
Keep in mind that moose can always be aggressive. The bulls are just more so in the rutting season when they are loaded up with testosterone. A cow moose with a calf can be deadly. They are an animal to be respected.
With our lousy snow this year we haven't seen any moose on the trails as they are able to move with ease around the woods.

"Dammit...I said whoa!"
Out Front! Kennels
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odaroloc

USA
63 Posts

Posted - 12/26/2007 :  2:47:33 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Great topic, and timely. Colorado is starting to see more and more moose, usually on trails and we (mushers) don't have much info on what to do around them. So far, the moose seem to get out of the way, but I understand they can become "conditioned" to dog teams and then decide to stand their ground. Then what???

I had considered bear spray until I talked to someone who had to use it on a moose and found out that in cold temps it is about as useful as a handful of snow. It doesn't spray at all.

I did put bells on my dogs harnesses to try to warn other trail users (skiiers and moose) of our presence.
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DJLa

USA
4 Posts

Posted - 12/26/2007 :  4:32:31 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I have had multiple close encounters with moose including having one jump through my team. Everyone (amazingly) was fine. After that encounter I found a cheap set of bear bells and attached them to the gang line. I still see moose, but ever since I got the bells, every moose has known I was coming and was already headed the other way.

Oh yeah,it is not nearly as intrusive as I thought it would be.

.44's work too.
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helidog

46 Posts

Posted - 01/04/2008 :  1:16:17 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I shoot moose and bears in the yard with rubber slugs in a shotgun. Sounds cruel but my intent is to deter them so I never have to use the real thing in a dog conflict. I cant imagine bear spray being very effective. I have had moose stand on the trail for quite some time before they decide to yeild to the team. Of course the dogs go crazy the whole time and its all I can do to keep them in one place. I have wished I had the rubber slugs out on the trail (funny mental image of redneck musher with shotgun rack on a dogsled!!)

They manufacture rubber bullets for various caliber of handguns but I have not used them. Thought of keeping the .44 available and if I had a moose blocking me I would have time to load the rubber bullets. If it is a sudden situation of defense of life the real bullets would be loaded already. For those running in areas they cant carry firearms maybe they could practice their aim with a slingshot and bag of marbles?!?!

My encounters with moose have happened only a few ways: I see the moose ahead of time and can react accordingly, or I come up suddenly on one and its over before I realize what happened. Then there have to be the times I never saw or even knew I passed them. I have never been charged. The vast majority of the time I can tell by the dogs something is there out there before I see it.

Just some thoughts.
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FaceDragger

USA
347 Posts

Posted - 01/04/2008 :  5:57:11 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I have had a team stomped by a cow moose that had a calf nearby. It was not a fun experience but luckily I only had a couple dogs hurt and we were able to get out of there without any serious injuries. Ive had a lot of close calls but its amazing how fast a moose can appear and start stomping. I carry a .44 in on my sled every run but never had time to actually use it when it really counted. I suggest carrying it in an easy to access location and practice handling and shooting it before you really need to rely on it.

I disagree with shooting a moose (or a bear!!) with rubber bullets on the trail. Thats like asking for an @sswhoopin'. If you need to shoot it, shoot it otherwise let it be. Besides, even if it doesnt charge you, how about the next team coming down the trail that runs into that(now) really p:ssed off moose!!!
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Dougskijors

Canada
571 Posts

Posted - 01/04/2008 :  7:10:46 PM  Show Profile  Visit Dougskijors's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Thanks everyone.
I have been reading the posts to my wife...
...to put it mildly, she has very limited faith in my ability to simultaneously manage poles, skiis, dogs, .44 calibre & bear spray while facing an angry moose...
(she, probably correctly, says I would end up blinded by bear spray, shot in the foot & stomped by the moose)

...so I think I might try the bells and caution
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dbseavey

USA
207 Posts

Posted - 01/05/2008 :  4:28:16 PM  Show Profile  Visit dbseavey's Homepage  Reply with Quote
another thing that works well in the yard is the exploding shells for a 12 gauge, like what they chase geese off the runway with. or a roman candle has about the same effect, just a shorter range.


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Brenda

161 Posts

Posted - 01/08/2008 :  12:27:58 PM  Show Profile  Visit Brenda's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I certainly would NOT recommend bear or pepper spray. Chances of you getting only the moose are about Nil. If you get it anywhere near you then you are also incapacitated so of no help to your dogs, to get out of there, or keep yourself out of the moose's way. I just got it on my glove once and pushed my hair out of my eyes and couldn't keep my eyes open for 10 min.

I use a flare gun, if there is time. On rare occasions (some previously harassed city moose) it can anger them but easy to pull out and easy to fire, even with gloves. Generally I have had about 80% luck and I have had runs where I have run into moose 3 different times one run. If I see a moose standing in the middle of the trail, I pull it out and fire it towards the moose. It has a red whistling stream that in itself is pretty scary but I am sure doesn't feel too great if you happened to hit the moose. It might burn a little but they usually jump up and skidaddle. Olin used to make a nice marine flare gun but I believe they are now Orion and still relatively inexpensive and replacement flares easy to find.
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