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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
This is the TLDR version, feel free skip and just comment below it...

I had a socially distanced moose encounter not of my choosing today for the first time while riding. I was riding on a ridgeline with a valley flanking down below that provided great vegetation at dusk. It was a Momma moose and a 1? or 2? year old growing Calf on seen with initial encounter. They came out from dense cover to the trail edge. Then directly blocking the trail. I engaged without choice from 20ft away by time I saw them come out thick woods. I stopped slowly, but promptly and straddled over the bike and stared at them like I would a free range cow/steer that doesn't want to move. I stopped and made no sudden movements, but I did not show fear, just observed. I guess in the same manner they observed me. I did not want to turn around and flee as I felt this may provoke a not-yet-agitated Momma moose.

I also was so cooked I couldn't sprint away uphill the way, these animals go 35mph. Even I could try flee, my legs so exhausted I would be slower than Bermudian molasses. I had just finished climbing a few thousand feet at the end of a 7 hour multi-mile mucher ride on a heavy trail bike. I'm not usual form right now either.

I realized after staring blankly for 2-3 minutes with the Momma and Kid pair that they didn't come closer, but certainly didn't weren't to back down either or move on. I think they were looking for a reason to otherwise act (even if needed aggressive). I also eventually saw, the hidden down the ridge, Bull moose coming toward the Momma and Kid pair. This was the turning point I decided the party was over. I still didn't want to turn my back and run, I don't think this be recommended.

What I get do is begin scrambling to higher grounds while keeping eyes on them. So, up 100 ft further up the very top of the ridgeline and finally out of their sight. I gave 200ft+ very wide berth in all directions, scrambling and hike a biking way continue along top of ridge then back down the trail a quarter mile down. Turning back, wasn't possible, another 20 miles ride minimum back to the vehicle in the night, with predictions 30 degrees and mild flurries. My lamp doesn't last that many hours.

I also think suggestions of heavy large bore firearms, or cans Grizzly spray in non-Grizzly areas not useful this mtb riding situation. I do always carry in Grizzly spray in their habit areas.
 

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Turn around and go another way. The other day, I was riding Bolling Alley (@Jayem has a nice satellite map in a different thread: Is anyone willing to get lost anymore? | Page 8 | Mountain Bike Reviews Forum (mtbr.com) ) and moose were everywhere. I'd be at an intersection and there would be moose down the trail in three of the four directions, so I'd take the one without moose.

The weird thing was how other mountain bikers were reacting to moose. I passed or turned around where several groups of about half a dozen each were stopped waiting and staring at moose, as if they were expecting the moose to move for them. It's like they've never seen moose before (unlikely here, unless they were beginners) or didn't know how to get off the Bolling Alley and use the more numerous, wider trails (designed for xc skiing) all around that they could also ride on to get around the moose.
 

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Yeah, I usually just go way around them. Oddly, bull moose are less dangerous than mamas. They don't give AF. I once encountered a large bull while on a moto, and he looked at us like "I'm here, what are you going to do about it." Wasn't a bit scared of our motors, or us. We kindly went way around.
 

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I almost always smell moose way before I see them, and get very cautious. If I do see one I just turn around and go home or find trails in the opposite direction. Losing out on a ride doesn't bother me, it is their stomping grounds after all
 

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during fall rut... that bull moose is not your friend.

always keep your distance.

three moose encounters this year. a large pack sitting down resting trail side, a large female standing on edge of the city paved trail and a momma and two little ones walking through the public park. areas were high traffic people zones and they didnt care about me. but they are definitely aware. dont kid yourself.

on the paved city trail, i watched a lady walk up to it to take pictures! the idea is you walk until the animal is disturbed and moves. you wait about 3-5 seconds then approach again. when the animal moves again, you assume thats as close as your going to get so you start taking pictures! if the animal attacks you, then sue the city and get your 15 minutes of fame. buy a new house after in the new subdivision they put up where the forest used to be along the trail where you saw the moose!
 

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this is mostly not moose-specific commentary (I've never encountered moose, but I do have a lot of wildlife background), but rather more general.

About all I know about moose is that they don't respond to people with avoidance. As in - they're not going to run when people come by. They don't seem to be the brightest, but they know that they don't have much to worry about from you. It's quite likely that they simply aren't going to move if they see you. When it comes to many predators, as soon as their prey notices them, the danger is mostly passed. The predators mostly want to ambush and avoid being injured in a struggle. Mountain lions pounce from behind. Wolves will wear their prey out before going in for the kill. So for large prey like moose that can cause some damage from fighting back, standing your ground and making it clear that you know the predator is there is a pretty safe course of action that requires fairly minimal energy expenditure. It also keeps you fresh to defend yourself if necessary. For mama moose, that includes defending your young, of course. And with young moose being smaller and less able to defend themselves, they're going to be bigger targets from predators. Wolves are going to try to separate the young from the adults.

So what can you do? Well, certainly not pressing the moose is the most important thing, and sounds like you had that pretty well covered. That said, you may not have NEEDED to do quite so much off-trail bushwhacking. Sounds like a full backtrack would have been a bad idea given your gear, battery life in your light, and falling temps, so that's out (though maybe that's a hint that it'd be a good idea to have extra layers for falling temps this time of year, and maybe a backup light). My first inclination probably would have been to give the moose LOTS of space. I'd have backtracked on the trail far enough that I was well outside the moose's visual range (probably not too hard to do), but also far enough to be barely noticeable by sound/smell, too. Enough that their alertness is much reduced and they hopefully decide to move along on their own. This has the benefit of keeping your risk levels down, especially if an encounter ever occurs in terrain or conditions where going off-trail would be much higher risk.

Maybe it'd involve a decent amount of waiting, but might not have taken any more time than you spent on your bushwhack. Sounds like the off-trail travel you did end up doing was more of an irritation and probably some hard work. I'd have tried to keep that as a backup option.
 

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Here in Utah, I run into moose at least a couple times a year. If it's a cow and calves, walk away. They aren't predators, so moving away isn't going to create a situation where they will want to chase you down. They want you to go away.
Bull in the spring and summer, probably the same, but in the fall, Bulls get pumped up on testosterone, so they are spring loaded to the pi$$ed off position. The only time I was charged was by a huge bull as I was going around him. I was in dense aspen, so there was no way he was getting to me, but it got my HR up.
Bottom line, I think is that you need to move away and if you are charged run and/or get some trees between you and the moose.

Edit: 2 years ago a woman was injured by a cow (with calves) in our neighborhood, but she had a dog off leash and tried to run in and get it away from the cow. Predictably, I suppose, the cow decided she'd had enough.
 

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I just had a moose encounter with a cow this week in Park City(Mother Urban trail). She could not care I was there. I waited about 30 seconds before turning back. So annoying since it was my maiden ride up that new trail. It was on a switchback so I ended up having to get closer(although below) before I was further away. My past encounters I've just turned around. One time adding about 30 minutes to my "this will be a quick one honey, be right back." Online advice says talk calmly and back away. If being attacked play dead. You See A Moose
 

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I just had a moose encounter with a cow this week in Park City(Mother Urban trail). She could not care I was there. I waited about 30 seconds before turning back. So annoying since it was my maiden ride up that new trail. It was on a switchback so I ended up having to get closer(although below) before I was further away. My past encounters I've just turned around. One time adding about 30 minutes to my "this will be a quick one honey, be right back." Online advice says talk calmly and back away. If being attacked play dead. You See A Moose
Is Mother Urban open the whole way now?

From that site, this is an important caveat!
"If the moose hits you, play dead, curled up with your hands on head and neck. Your backpack makes a good shield.
Once contact is made, this is all you can do!
 

· since 4/10/2009
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They aren't predators, so moving away isn't going to create a situation where they will want to chase you down.
I think for me, I'd probably still back away if the encounter was close enough that the moose noticed me and went at least somewhat on alert. I'd want to keep tabs on what the moose is doing.

I had a mtn lion encounter once, off-trail at night. No way I was going to be backing up to keep my eyes on the cat in that scenario. I had to be able to see where I was going so I didn't trip and fall, or fall off the cliff (I was somewhat close to some cliffs, too). I shined a light over my shoulder (with my headlamp shining where I was going) so that the cat wouldn't think it could sneak up on me. So if there was trip/fall risk, I might pay more attention to where I was walking, and just frequently shoulder checking to see how the moose was responding.
 

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I think for me, I'd probably still back away if the encounter was close enough that the moose noticed me and went at least somewhat on alert. I'd want to keep tabs on what the moose is doing.
Absolutely. I wouldn't stop watching him/her, they/them!
I think mtn lion encounters are the encounters where you just have to fight back hard, rather than curl up. That's pretty scary!
 

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Mother Urban: I think it could be open all the way. I met it at gravedigger. Not sure where it actually starts since it's one way. I rode it again yesterday and moose was gone. It connects to MM just before King Rd. Views from that trail of the leaves changing toward Deer Valley this week are amazing. I like it since I ride up Lowell to start usually. Did Sweeny's or flat cable> John's> 4:20> Gravedigger>Mother Urban.
 

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Moose have no predators that can take them down (full grown), so they tend to not give a F, as in they will play chicken with cars, you won't scare them off the trail, etc. Any attempt to scare them off usually agitates them and is much more likely to result in a charge, not to mention it's typically totally ineffective at getting them to move off. If you come around a turn with speed they might get frightened and run off, that happens, but it's usually when you were moving real fast and they didn't see you from a ways off.
 
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