June 10th is almost here. June 10th. The most special day of the year. June 10th.
Know this: I am a Moose freak. I love everything about them. I love the way they look, the way they walk, the way they act. I love their attitude, their haughtiness, their aloofness. I love the fact that they don’t have a mean bone in their bodies. I love the fact that they look like they’ve been assembled by a Congressional committee.
And for all of those reasons, I especially love photographing them. And that’s why June 10th is THE DAY.
I’ve been at this “Moose photography” thing for roughly a dozen years now, but about five years ago I met a fellow up at Baxter State Park called Jim. It was obvious we were there for the same reason and, as often happens when you’re sitting in a spot waiting for Moose to appear, we struck up a conversation. It turned out that Jim had been photographing Moose for a very long time, so I started to pick his brain. I asked a key question I’d always been curious about:
“Say, Jim, what’s the earliest you can see Moose in the ponds around here?”
Jim, without one second’s hesitation, replied: “June 10th.”
I must have had some goofy startled look on my face because Jim followed up quickly: “I’m dead serious. It’s June 10th.”
“June 10th?? Not June 9th? Not June 11th? June 10th?”, I asked.
“That’s right. June 10th.”
So, there it was. From the only “Moose photography” expert I’d known up to that point in my life, came this bit of critical information. So, I had the next eleven months to sit and ponder this. After spending the last, roughly, six months hiding deep in the woods, foraging for snacks, fending off the cold and snow, and eventually giving birth, Moose look at their Glidden Auto Body calendars and notice that June 10th has been circled in red ink?? And what do they say?
Mr. Moose: “Whoa! Look at the time, Ma! Let’s grab the kids and get outta these woods!! I don’t know about you, but I sure could use a bath…and I’d really love to have my picture taken!”
Mrs. Moose: “Yippee!! Me, too! Let’s go, Pa!! C’mon, kids!!”
Moose kids: “Blllrrrggghhhhhhhh!!”
That conversation may have taken place, but I had to see for myself if it was true or not about this June 10th thing. My eleven-month wait seemed to take forever, and as the fateful day drew near, I began to finalize my plans. I reserved a lean-to at the park. I gathered all the photography and camping gear I could. I jammed my car full of everything I could possibly need, and waited for THE DAY to arrive.
Bright and early, on the morning of June 10th, 2015, I reached the park and drove into my favorite campground. It was 7:30. Perfect timing. I parked my vehicle, quickly grabbed my pack full of photo gear, and hiked into the pond. I was still extremely skeptical, but as I turned the final corner on the trail and peered cautiously at the water, I saw what I’d been dreaming about. There he was – bigger than life, and oh-so-beautiful. A strapping bull Moose, no more than 20 feet away from me. I edged closer, quickly brought my camera to my eye, and started firing away.
I took at least 25 shots of this handsome lad before he sauntered right past me and back into woods. So, this “June 10th thing” is absolutely true. I now have proof.
And as the Moose left me, although I cannot prove this, I could’ve sworn I saw a rolled-up calendar sticking out of his back pocket.