Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Escaped Criminals and the Way Moose Achieve Status

©Bert Gildart: This morning we were startled by a call from my daughter, Angie, followed shortly thereafter by a call from the sheriff’s office in Kalispell, Montana. They were calling to tell us that two escaped parolees from Oregon were in our IMMEDIATE area (Creston, Montana), that they were armed and dangerous, that they had shot at a SWAT team and that we should lock our doors.

Moose eyes

Are you safe? Watch its eyes.

About the same time we started getting calls from all over Flathead Valley asking us if we’d heard the news? “Lock your doors,” everyone said. “Stay inside.”

Now, two hours later, and we’ve just heard they were caught. Though we don’t yet know the specifics before posting this blog I will have that information.

In the meantime, I want to talk a bit about moose, specifically bull moose, which can also be dangerous. First, I should mention that just a few weeks ago I was turned back from an intended visit to the Tetons while in Yellowstone. Snow had temporarily closed the park’s southern entrance, the one leading to Jenny Lake and to the Grand Tetons. But two years ago it didn’t, and two years ago I had some of the best luck I’ve ever had.

In photography, you have to size every opportunity, and that’s what we attempted to do.

EVIL EYE

Photographing moose is a always a ticklish situation–like going out this morning with a .44 magnum pistol to make sure the escaped parolees weren’t hiding out in our Airstream. In other words, it’s something you do with some caution and certainly some means of protecting yourself.

With moose, however, you’ve got a bit of an advantage, ’cause if you see one from a respectful distance you can scope it out. With escapees, it seems you could easily stumble into something totally unexpected. Not so, it seems with bull moose, if, that is, you pay attention to your surroundings.

When spotting a moose you can further assess the situation by checking out the animal’s eyes, and I must admit, I did not like the look in this fellow’s eyes. Nevertheless, he was laying down, and continue to remain prone even as I approached from behind a grove of aspen trees.

Back dropped by the Tetons, moose fight

Back dropped by the Tetons, moose fight

Still, as I continued my search of the marsh, I gave this fellow a wide berth, simultaneously checking behind me, to the sides and to my front. About a half hour later I came upon a cow moose with a young of the year. They were grazing placidly, and could have cared less whether or not I was there.

But then I came across two large bull moose. These were gladiators sporting large antlers and both were on the verge of using them.

ANTLERS AND SOCIAL STATUS

Often antler size alone prevents fights, for other moose evaluate them and it tells them much about the individual. There’s nothing magic about it, and, not surprisingly, large antlers mean the moose has a high social status among other bull moose. But these two moose apparently couldn’t make that judgment call, and so they continued circling one another; probing, searching for an area of vulnerability, like two boxers in a ring, jabbing; constantly jabbing, jabbing, jabbing.

moose battling

Moose battling

Biologists say that bull moose do not inflict great injury to one another. Bulls may meet head to head and use their antlers to push and knock each other around, but, generally, unlike other species, they don’t try and kill one another. Usually the only physical contact between rivals is antler to antler, which allows males to settle disputes over who is the better, without causing serious injury. Not so with sheep and particularly with mountain goats, which may stab one another with their horns. In such cases if a stab wound occurs in the area of the stomach, peritonitis may follow, then, in some cases, death.

Why such a long nose?

The object of their affection

In the case of my two moose, the animals apparently had little to resolve. The fight continued for a long time, but then suddenly ceased with the two animals simply walking away from one another.

APPREHENSION

But not so with the two criminals who managed to evade the SWAT team for hours. As I’ve just learned, one of the escapees was caught in his underwear about a mile from our home in this very rural setting. He was caught near the river.

The other man somehow managed to evade immediate arrest but was eventually apprehended several miles away near the highway. Apparently he had dashed across plowed fields then tried to flag down a ride. One of the people whom he attempted to flag down had heard the alert and responded by calling the police–specifying location. Shortly thereafter–at gunpoint–the man was arrested.

Both men were, in fact, armed and dangerous. They had invaded the home of someone nearby. They had beaten the woman and her friend and then tried to escape. But there, they were foiled…

LADY LOVE

This isn’t the first time the criminal element has invaded our community. Obviously things are changing in our once quiet valley, so give me an evil-eyed moose any day, even a belligerent one looking for his lady love-and probably not willing to let anything stand in the way of his ardor. That’s a much better scenario; in fact, it’s a great scenario.



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