How to get a Moose to say "Cheese"
by Michael R Dougherty
He couldn't get up -
Moments ago he was about to take a great picture, but now he was flat on his back, about to get stomped by Mr. Moose.
Do you remember back in the day when you would go over to someone's house and they would bring out their slide projector and screen to show you pictures of their recent trip or vacation?
Years ago, long before cell phone cameras, digital cameras and the internet of today, amateur photographers used 35mm film cameras to capture beautiful pictures of their travels and adventures. And after all the pictures on their roll of film were exposed, they would take the film to the drug store or photo shop to be developed or made into slides.
One such photographer was a man called Moe -
Moe was a great friend of my dad's. One Sunday afternoon our family went to visit Moe and his family. Not long after we arrived, Moe brought out his slide projector and screen to show us photographs of his latest excursion into the wilds of Alaska.
Moe had a great eye for taking pictures and his slides were usually very good and often from an exciting adventure like white water rafting, or the time he was running from an avalanche on a near-by Alaskan mountain.
But these slides were of the incredibly beautiful Alaskan woods on a sunny, snowy winter day.
Then a very unusual slide filled the screen.
It was a close-up picture of the face of a moose who appeared to be looking straight down at the camera lens.
"How did you get that picture?" I asked Moe.
Suddenly Moe started laughing. Now Moe was a great big robust ex-lumberjack who's trademark laugh could no doubt be heard a block away. I could tell from his laugh that there was a great adventure behind this special photograph.
Moe told us that when he took that picture, he thought it would be the last picture he would ever take. You see, Moe was out there in the snowy woods of Alaska on a fairly warm winter's day and there was fresh snow on the ground. Because it was warm, Moe had removed his coat, tied it around his waist and was wearing a thick sweater.
Now during an Alaskan winter, when it gets warmer, the snow gets wet. Wet snow is perfect for making snow balls, or building a snowman, but it gets heavy and clings to things like sweaters, or socks, or even wool pants.
So back to my story -
Here was Moe, quietly walking through the woods in very deep, wet snow, looking for interesting things to photograph.
Then Moe spotted a moose in a clearing just ahead of him. The moose had already noticed Moe and was just standing there watching him.
With his 35mm camera hanging around his neck, Moe started slowly walking toward the moose to try and get as close as he could to get a great picture.
As Moe entered the clearing, the moose continued to stand still and watch.
Suddenly, Moe lost his footing in the deep snow and ended up falling flat on his back. As he struggled to get back up, Moe realized that the snow was sticking to his sweater and the added weight was holding him down.
As he continued to try and get up, Moe could hear the moose walking toward him.
Now moose are wild animals and can be very dangerous if something startles them. Moe's invasion of the moose's territory and his thrashing around in the snow may have been more than the moose was willing to put up with.
In a moment, the moose was literally standing over the top of Moe, looking straight down on him as Moe lay helpless in the deep snow.
At that moment, Moe said he thought he was about to get stomped to death by the moose.
So Moe decided that he would take what he thought would be his very last picture, a picture of the moose looking straight down on him.
Not wanting to startle the moose, Moe slowly and quietly reached for his camera that was still hanging around his neck by a leather strap. Moe slowly took hold of the camera and brought it toward his face so he could frame his last shot.
Now the moose became curious and moved his head to withing a foot of Moe's face.
Moe could smell the moose's warm breath and felt the need to hurry as he took a deep nervous breath, clicked the camera shutter and captured the moose's close-up.
But the click of the shutter startled the moose who quickly moved his head back and away from Moe. The moose stood there puzzling over Moe, his camera and the clicking sound of the camera shutter.
Then, just as Moe was certain that the moose was going to raise up into the air and begin stomping him into a pile of Moe jelly - something else happened.
As if to say "OK pal, you got your close-up of me, now I'm movin on" the moose turned and started walking away, leaving Moe flat on his back, stuck in the deep, wet Alaskan snow.
After the moose was safely away, Moe was able to get up out of the snow.
I'll never forget that incredible picture and the funny story behind it.
Maybe Moe's photography and his eye for capturing amazing pictures had something to do with me wanting to become a videographer when I graduated from high school.
Come to think of it, I should have thanked Moe when I was fortunate enough to receive an Emmy award for my camera work.
Maybe I should have thanked the moose too.
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