Let me tell you about a moment that changed my life forever.
It was October, 2007. I was staying at my buddy’s camp in Caratunk, with Bruce, my mostly-Corgi. We woke up at sunrise and, over coffee and Alpo, decided to take a hike to see what was up at that hour. I wasn’t the fervent nature photographer I am now, but luckily, I decided to grab my camera anyway – just in case.
So, off we went. At the end of the camp road, we had a decision to make: turn left or right? Always tough. But this time, the choice was made for us.
To our left, from the thicket, came a noise we’d never heard before. It sounded like two Ogres whacking each other with aluminum baseball bats. Suddenly the alders parted and out stepped the largest Moose in recorded history. This is indisputable because it’s MY recorded history. Nobody else’s. I mean, this guy was ENORMOUS. And he was coming right toward me. Tilting his head back and forth, sniffing me out. Thirty feet away, and closing quickly. Twenty feet away. Then fifteen. Thankfully, that’s where he stopped. And simply stared.
Now, a man in his right mind would have probably done the smart thing and high-tailed it outta there. This was, after all, the rut – the season when Moose do things without a second thought, like trample men who are out hiking with their little mostly-Corgis at daybreak. But I’m not exactly known for my common sense, so I stood my ground and went one step further: I lifted my camera to my eye. Now, I’m not gonna lie – my hands were trembling like Eric Trump on Jeopardy, but not because I was scared. It was because I didn’t want to blow the shot! Guess what? I didn’t. Here’s proof:
Notice, please, that I couldn’t get my Moose’s entire body in the frame. That’s how close he was, and how big. Oh, and what was Bruce doing? Cowering in the underbrush like some little milquetoast Pekingese? Hardly. My brave mostly-Corgi was doing what all good Dogs are supposed to do. He was protecting his master from the danger that lurked to his right! You see, unbeknownst to me, my bull Moose had been sparring with another bull Moose, which accounted for all that racket. Now, proof that Bruce was doing his job:
This lasted for another two or three minutes, before everybody realized the show was over. The Moose sauntered back into the woods. And Bruce and I sauntered back to camp.
And how, you may ask, did this change my life forever? Simple. Those Moose convinced me that being a nature photographer was something I absolutely had to do. No question. Yes, it was the final nail in the coffin of my marriage, made me realize I hated my job, and precipitated a move back to Maine, but I’ve never looked back.
Okay, full disclosure: I did look back. Once. But only to make sure the Moose wasn’t coming after me.