I'm Sick and Tired of the Moose-cuses!
Moose crossing

I'm convinced it's a conspiracy. Or at least I was.

Here's why:

I've spent quite a bit of time in "moose"-laden territory over the past few years. In these areas, I've seen quite a few "moose."

Startled-looking heads mounted over blazing fireplaces, full-bodied taxidermed atrocities standing proud before campy places of business, and bronzed statues in public squares.

Souvenir store mugs, tees, and shot glasses emblazed with cartoon “moose” in a plethora of wacky situations bequeath all sorts of North Woodsy wisdom.

Never, EVER have I seen one in real life.

Moose head in Northern Ontario
See how fake looking they are?

Until recently, I was a believer in the myth of the "moose," but now I realize that I've been hoodwinked by a vast conspiracy.

Like the unicorn, snipe, mermaids, skunk apes and Altie, I believe the existence of moose is a massive hoax.

Think about it.

Moose are ridiculous looking. Even a Pegasus or a griffin carry characteristics seen in creatures that actually exist in nature. Frankly, I'd be less shocked to meet up with Medusa.

My theory on the origin of the moose myth is this:

Moose antler hockey stick rack
"Moose" antler hockey stick rack

Canadians - being the wonderfully clever and playful people that they are - needed a way of entertaining themselves during the beautiful summer months when the onslaught of tourists invaded their country.

What could be more entertaining than sending a bunch of heat-avoiding folks from south-of-the-border on a wild moose chase? There's a simple, elegant beauty to it all.

A moose bottle holder
Real world application for "moose"

Soon, a thriving industry developed. Fake heads for mounting, famous cartoons for watching, and trinkets to be sold. I'm fairly certain the continuation of the myth is what keeps many small towns afloat in the northern U.S. and Canada.

Because of this, I've had reservations about writing this post, I feel like I'm revealing a glimpse behind the magic curtain on a time-honored tradition, and possibly endangering the livelihood of many fine folks.

But I'm also really upset by all the times I've gotten my hopes up, only to hear the most ridiculous of Moose-cuses:

-It's the wrong time of the day
I can't tell you how many times I've gone trudging though the wilderness on a tip from a Canadian, only to come back to civilization and have a different Canadian tell me that I was out there during the wrong time of day.

-It's the wrong time of the year
We had made a trek to snowy Vermont on a lead from a New Yorker who had "just seen" a moose up there. Upon arrival, we were told by the owner of our hotel that moose just aren't around that area in the winter.

-You just missed him
I have had more near-moose experiences than I can relate in one post. Someone's kid or next-door neighbor has always just spotted one the hour before.

-There's been too much rain this year
Apparently, moose hate mud.

- The new golf course has scared them all away
Ditto for golf, moose hate golfing.

- They are really hard to spot in the woods
Seriously? It seems I've simply not noticed the massive, goofy-faced, trees-for-antlers creatures.

I've also had some pretty wild conversations:

- With a drunk woman with whom we were sharing a cab in Winter Park, Colorado
We were chatting about moose with the cabby, he was relating fables about all of the times he had almost hit a moose with his cab. When I mentioned that I don't believe in moose, the drunk woman we were dropping off on our way to the train station WENT OFF ON ME! Never discuss politics, religion or moose in Winter Park.

- With a dog sled musher in Whitefish Montana
Here's where we learned that moose can swim. Yeah. Right.

Chip truck in Canada

- With a chip truck lady who fed us poutine in Northern Ontario

ME: If moose are real, how come I've never seen one in a zoo?

Chip Truck Lady: Come to think of it, neither have I. I don't think they'd like being in a zoo.

ME: And TIGERS do?

Chip Truck Lady: I guess not. I wonder why that is?

Yeah. I wonder.

The Newfoundland Addendum (and New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island!)

Moose sign in Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland, Canada
The "moose" supposedly outnumber humans in
Gros Morne National Park, so why didn't we see one?

I was suckered back in to believing I might see a moose in Newfoundland - especially in Gros Morne National Park, where there is supposedly a 1.5 moose-to-human ratio.

Keeping uber-alert while driving the whole of the island, I spied moose fences in the western area, a sophisticated alert system in the central area and very scary looking warning signs in the National Park, but not a single sighting.

Moose detection system sign in Newfoundland

BUT I may have stumbled on a clue.

Just outside of the park, driving north, David suddenly yelled, "Look. LOOK! A moose!"

I caught a fleeting glimpse of a massive creature standing off in the distance, stock still. Could I be wrong? Was that actually a moose? We immediately spun around, and turned back to get a closer look.

Moose collision sign in Newfoundland

There was nothing there.

What I did see, however, may break this myth wide open.

Parked on the side of the road was a black SUV. Two men, sweating profusely, were hurriedly stuffing something into the back of the vehicle.

A moose suit perhaps?

The Norway Addendum (a "moose" by any other name...)

Still don't believe in moose! At the Ski Jump Museum in Oslo, Norway
Sorry Norway, but I STILL doesn't believe in moose!

At the Olympic Ski Jump museum in Oslo, I was made to believe there was a creature called an elg.

We traveled a huge expanse of Norway by train (all the way to above the Arctic circle in the wintertime!) after I saw this taxidermy-ed monstrosity.

Guess what? Didn't see a one. I don't believe in Elg, either.

The Alaska Addendum (or where I eat crow in a big way!)

I stand corrected. I apologize, I couldn't have been more wrong. Moose exist.

It was less than a week upon our arrival in Anchorage that I spied my first moose while traveling along the Seward Highway south of town. AND he was swimming. I am now fully obsessed with moose, as demonstrated in our Instagram feed:


Veronica, GypsyNester.com

YOUR TURN: Are you a moose-myth conspirator or a disbeliever like me? Do you accept my humble apology?

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