Head into the deep Maine woods often enough, and you’re bound to see something that you’ll never forget.
Up on those back roads, in places where traffic is sparse and the forests stretch for miles, you’re always just one turn away from a close encounter of the wildest kind.
And sometimes, when an amazing scene unfolds and you’ve got a camera nearby, you capture pictures that are worth far more than the customary 1,000 words.
Just ask Jody Zeisloft.
Zeisloft lives in Bar Harbor with his wife, a Mount Desert Island native. When he moved here nine years ago from Pennsylvania, Zeisloft began taking frequent trips to some of Maine’s fabled wild places, looking for adventure.
“When I first moved to Maine, I knew few people, so I would spend my weekends exploring the Maine woods,” he said.
A few years ago, Zeisloft and his wife, Victoria Eaton, found a particularly special place — Spencer Pond Camps — and have been visiting the spot a few times a year since. Located on Big Spencer Pond about 12 miles past the outpost town of Kokadjo, the camps feature old-time features like gas lights, gas stoves, and gas refrigerators, and offer free use of canoes and kayaks.
Zeisloft said he has developed a routine for his trips to Spencer Pond Camps.
“Every morning and evening I spend up at the camp I make coffee and head out on the logging roads, just hoping to see a moose, or anything that moves,” he wrote. “My wife thinks I’m crazy and just wasting gas. But it’s what I like to do, usually with the dog in the backseat for company.”
And that’s what he was doing during the third week of October, when he wound up on a dead-end road north of Kokadjo at about 7:45 a.m.
“There was a small area of water along the road on one side. As I came to the intersection, and looked down one of the roads, there were two young bull moose standing in the road, more staring at each other than caring about me,” Zeisloft said. “I turned off the truck and watched them as they were about maybe 35 yards away. Great picture-taking opportunity if I didn’t scare them, I thought.”
Zeisloft sat and watched as the young moose began some gentle sparring.
“As I was trying to focus on them to get a picture, they began to engage in some light antler-to-antler engagement,” he said. “It didn’t appear at that moment to be real aggressive fight. This interaction went on for about 15 minutes as they would circle one another, walk away, re-engage. As it went on they got more aggressive to the point you knew they were battling to see who was the better. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”
And as the bulls battled, they kept moving closer to Zeisloft.
“At one point the rear or one of the bulls was about 15 feet from front of truck,” he said. “The noises, the grunts, the sounds of the antlers clashing, which is fairly loud in the middle of a quiet morning. It was about 20 minutes of pure adrenalin rush.”
The battle finally ended when the moose heard the sound of an approaching truck, and decided to run into the woods.
Now, about a month later, Zeisloft is still thankful that he was able to witness the scene.
“As you know, it takes being in the right place and a little luck to see a moose, even in Maine,” he said. “But if you’re in the north woods long enough and cover enough ground you’re bound to see something special like this.”