Searching for moose outside Jackson Hole
A coyote trotted across the road on Antelope Flat as my friend, Wayne, and I traveled from Kelly, Wyoming toward Grand Teton National Park in Jackson Hole. It played cat-and-mouse with us until it caught and swallowed a rodent and then it disappeared in the tall sagebrush.
It was Tuesday morning and the two of us had gone to Jackson to try to rustle up a bull moose in a romantic mood, but we were just a few weeks early for them to fight their way into the hearts of the cows. We did find a cow and a calf in the woods of “hippyville,” the small old town of Kelly. The calf was almost as big as the cow and had to kneel as it tried to nurse; the cow gave the calf a forward kick and that game was over.
It seemed like every one in that area was looking for moose and a gentleman from Illinois told us that a big bull was hidden deep in the woods along the Gros Ventre River. It had become hidden in the forest of cottonwoods away from the busy road.
“There is a good place to see moose over at the Blacktail Pond Overlook,” Wayne said as we watched a herd of buffalo on Antelope Flat. “We could also stop at Mormon Row where the most photographed barn in the world is and see that too.”
Jackson Hole is a place that you are likely to see about anything and Wayne was a wonderful companion for the trip. He is a retired forest service employee who served in Jackson Hole for over 30 years and seemed to know every nook and cranny in the valley. He told me to expect about anything and we even saw things that he did not warn me about.
On our way to Mormon Row we saw a young lady outside of her RV, sitting on a log, playing her guitar and singing toward the Tetons. We stopped and visited with her and she was “Ashton” from Iowa; the van was borrowed from a “friend” and she was just waiting for ski season to start.
“Now you have seen a real hippy,” Wayne told me as we drove off toward the colorful Shadow Mountain. I grew up in the “60’s” in Teton Valley and have seen at least a couple of hippies in my lifetime.
Blacktail Ponds did not disappoint us; no there were no bull moose there but as we watched a fly fisherman work a pond created by a beaver dam, two cow moose with their teenagers walked out of the forest and entertained us. A couple from Arkansas joined us and were very happy to see the moose – a first for the woman.
We continued north toward the dam on Jackson Lake where we ice fish during the winter and stopped near Spread Creek to photograph some pronghorns that were in the midst of their rutting season. A large buck was trying to keep his little herd together but trying to keep female antelope from wandering seemed as difficult as tacking jello to a tree.
My guide showed me where the movie “Shane” was filmed and eventually we stopped at the Oxbow Bend below Jackson Dam to eat lunch, watch for bear and watch Common mergansers play in the Snake River. While there a photographer came by and told us the Bear #399 with her four cubs were at the dam.
We almost got there too late as she was rounding up her four cubs and was headed up Signal Mountain. We did get some poor long-range shots of her and her cubs, but at least we saw them. We enjoyed the fall colors and the majestic Teton Peaks and Mount Moran, went on a short hike toward Death Canyon and decided to take a short cut to Wilson. That was a mistake.
WARNING: The Moose-Wilson Road was bumper-to-bumper traffic with huge holes created by the recent rain/snow event. It may be a short cut in distance – but is very rough where it isn’t paved. But what a wonderful day.
Even though we struck out on bull moose, we will go back in the few weeks to find them and hopefully will capture them rattling their antlers. The colors may be gone, but the stunning mountains, ponds, rivers, lakes and animals will still be around.