A Monday Moose
By Ross Coyer
It was a brisk October 1st in Orr, MN when I made the decision to spend a few hours collecting hazard buoys from the various rock piles randomly lurking beneath the clear blue waters of Pelican Lake. The Association of resorts on Pelican Lake has spent several years managing these buoys in an effort to cut down on the amount of damage sustained when boaters are navigating the lake. The buoys have worked well, cutting down close to one hundred percent of major outboard damage over the years.
The job is tough one. The buoys are awkward and heavy even without the concrete anchors and chains that can add what feels like a stove filled with bricks underwater. You can imagine also that after sitting in the lake for four months they don’t come out squeaky clean either.
As a result of the muscle that is required to manage the job, the Association recently approved the construction of a special pontoon fitted with a small crane and winch to cut down on the back pain that comes with plucking these markers out of the cold water. Being in charge of the buoy committee allows me the responsibility of the vessel and the recruitment of volunteers to man the deck. So, back to my decision to start the job that day, I needed a crew.
It was a quiet fall day, upper forties, a light wind from the South West with ample cloud cover and peeks of blue sky that were few and far between. I knew it was important to take advantage of the conditions as the weather window in the fall can sometimes slam shut like a storm door in a strong wind. With Mom and Dad having just left for several days and feeling like I should at least have a first mate, I tried to muster up a crew with a message to a few nearby resorters asking for help with the task at hand. After having no luck recruiting volunteers, I was left with the decision to postpone the endeavor or set out on my own to retrieve what I could with the time that I had. As is usually the case, I loaded my gear and set out to accomplish.
There wasn’t another boat to be seen, only the Aspen, Birch and Maple trees that were beginning to reveal their true colors along the shoreline. Heading West, my first stop was going to be a laid back little rock pile just North of Northland Lodge out about five hundred yards from the South shoreline. A great place to fish for crappies in the spring, bluegills during summer and large and smallmouth bass in the fall, I decided it was a good buoy to start with. Only a few minutes into the trip, and just as that first buoy was coming into focus, another object in the water caught my eye.
As with most objects that you cannot identify, it becomes increasingly exciting as your mind begins to cross off the possibilities. At first I thought it was a boat. No, it’s too small to be a boat. It does look like a manned craft though. It must be a kayaker, maybe a real low profile design with a dark exterior and compact paddle. No, it’s not gliding like a kayak. Maybe it’s a group of loons or cormorants swimming together in some unique fashion. Nothing like any birds I’ve ever seen. What could it be?
The realization of what was swimming just a few hundred yards ahead of me hit like a comet in a corn field. As soon as I got close enough, my mind pinpointed the shape of the object and instantly, without a doubt, I knew exactly what I had encountered. That’s a Moose, and he is headed right for Verdicts Inn!
As I neared the swimming giant, I knew I did not have much time to absorb the details. His antlers were his most visible feature, not massive but well proportioned. He had a beautiful coat, dark brown like coffee, but made darker by the water. He was swimming fast and determined through twenty feet of water with little more than a ripple of bubbles in his wake.
I had the opportunity to record the last two minutes of my encounter through a live feed on the internet. Being well connected, even on a remote Northern Minnesota lake is a miracle of technology and I knew an experience like this may only happen once in a lifetime. I pulled out my phone and was able to share the Monday Moose as he made his way up onto the rocky shore of Verdicts Inn Island soaking wet and trotting away into the island woodland.
(Watch my live video here!)