How to Spot a Moose Like a Mainer

Registered Maine Guide Reid Anderson teaches us why an early morning canoe trip is his preferred method for moose touring.

It is November, and unless you’re a lucky lottery winner with a license to kill, you’re not looking for moose right now. In addition to the sporting thrill of the hunt (and the potentially 400 pounds of meat), moose are hunted in large part to manage their population densities: “So while we joke that in our line of work we would prefer to have more of them, we know that overpopulation can be a real problem for the herd, and therefore also for us,” says Reid Anderson, recreation manager at Northeast Whitewater near Moosehead Lake. Anderson is one of several Registered Maine Guides who leads moose spotting tours in northern Maine, the season of which runs from mid-May to mid-October, specifically until the day before Indigenous Peoples’ Day, “because that’s when the moose hunt starts in our district,” he says. Anderson clarifies that there is no bad time of year to see a moose, but Northeast Whitewater leads tours when the roads are passable. “We don’t have snowmobiles in our business. We don’t want to have snowmobiles in our business.” Snowmobiles are about a billion times louder than, say, a canoe, Anderson’s preferred moose touring vehicle. “It’s really about being quiet,” he says, “just be quiet.” Thinking about purchasing some camo? Think again. Colors are a nonissue (moose have terrible eyesight). This also means it’s best for a group of canoes to stick together—without, of course, playing bumper boats—“because their eyesight is such that we can potentially be seen as one blob instead of five blobs, and we won’t look like we’re swarming them.” Do perfumes and colognes affect moose, hypothetically speaking? “Sure. But not to the point where we’re not gonna find them, and especially not if we can stay downwind.” Northeast Whitewater runs tours as close to sunup and sundown as possible, when the moose are most likely to be feeding on the pond grasses and woody shrubs they’re known to love. “There’s a reason there’s no noontime tour,” Anderson says. Speaking of tours, get to booking for next season. Tours typically see at least one moose about eighty percent of the time. And the record? “First week of October, right before mating season and the moose hunt, at sunup, we spotted 17.”

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