When I came to work at Ranger Creek, it should have been my first 'encounter' with moose. In Germany I've never thought about them even if it might be the case that moose migrate and someday come back to Germany from the eastern European countries. I only knew that moose were huge animals and I had seen them on television sometimes as well as in Yellowstone 1998 but from a rather far distance. Well, moose were to become very special friends of mine during my summer in the Big Horn Mountains.

It started out when I saw a couple of moose from time to time. I saw them on trails and on ranch ground. They were everywhere and I was told that they can be dangerous, so that it would be a smarter idea to get out of their way what actually was no big deal most of the times.

One day, it was my day off, I decided to go on a ride with C.O.D. First of all, my buddy didn't like that idea very much because it actually was his day off as well and we wasn't in the mood of going out, especially when all the other horses stayed in the pasture. But C.O.D. had no choice. We trotted down to the cowboygate by the hay stack and the parking lot, where Shane and Brandon were working on something - the truck probably - that's what I thought. We chatted for a while, then I started to lope down the ranch road to Paintrock Road (none of these roads were paved). C.O.D. was okay but then I suddenly saw the moose coming out of the trees. I guess we scared that animal that had been grazing down by the creek. C.O.D. got spooked by the moose that ran down the road beside us. What was this now? A race? I let C.O.D. run as fast as he wanted and man -- he was fast. Well, I wanted to get away from the moose too. After a moment the big animal disappeared again into nowhere and we stopped. Did we win? Yes, I guess so! I didn't really know what to think, I was not scared at all and that fact scared me. Strange? But I went on riding.

This was not the only incident with moose, I met more of them - As long as I was on a horse I felt save and didn't care too much but it was a completely different story when I was afoot. That was my problem in the other three cases. One time I walked up to the lodge from our room when Bill asked me if I had seen the huge bull moose down in the willows. There was a moose? I hadn't seen it so we went back and Bill showed me the place. Wow, he was really big. And I mean really really big! And I hadn't seen that guy. Man! Another day, it was the other way round. I was walking down from the lodge. It was already getting dark but still bright enough for me to see the moose, standing quite near the tack room. Well, what would the animal do? Again, it was a huge bull and I could never know how he would react. I wanted to go into our room but did the moose know that. Or would he think that I wanted to attack him. I was not weary of life, slowed down and carefully made my way onto the frontporch of the Wrangler's Quarter while he didn't move at all. Pooh, that was close I thought and entered into my room.

But a couple of days later, my special friend came to see me again: The work for that day was done and I stood on the rail watching the horses grazing in the pasture as I suddenly saw the three dogs: Raya, Layla and Cally chasing something I couldn't see. I just saw how they disappeared in the willows. Moose? For sure! After a short time, all three dogs came running out of the willows again, chased by the moose. I started laughing. What a picture, then they suddenly changed their direction and came down to me, still the moose behind them. I was like "Good Lord" and started to run. What a strange picture that must have been.....

Happy Trails