MADAWASKA, Maine — Like a lot of people with a pool, Kurt and Louise Wickenheiser are used to welcoming swimmers to cool off during the summer. Most are more than welcome.
They do, however, draw the line at those with antlers. Especially those of the pool-draining variety.
These days the retired couple’s inflatable pool is surrounded by a Rube Goldberg-inspired array of moose deterrents after one of the critters has drained more than a thousand gallons from the above-ground pool.
“It’s really kind of a riot,” Kurt Wickenheiser said. “I had the pool filled four weeks ago, and it takes about 6,000 gallons of water. It was kind of cold, so we did not use it right off and had the little ‘floaties’ filled with chlorine in the pool doing their thing.”
Two days after filling the pool, Wickenheiser said, he looked out to see the water level had gone down about 500 gallons and the chlorine floaties were on the ground about 10-feet from the pool.
“I went out to look and saw the moose tracks,” he said. “Some moose decided to stop by, lean into the pool and get some water while a bunch of water flooded out.”
Wickenheiser re-filled his pool but several days ago he looked out and the level was again down hundreds of gallons and the floaties high and dry near the garden.
“It was that same damn moose,” he said with a laugh. “It looks like he’s coming out of the woods, walking alongside the house, stopping for a drink and continuing on.”
A crafty and enterprising man by nature, Wickenheiser swung into “MacGyver” mode and created a moose-defense perimeter around the pool.
“I took some rope and strung it around the pool and hung a couple of Christmas bells along with some lids from coffee cans,” he said. “And, in case the moose can read, I put out some ‘do not cross fireline’ flags out there.”
So far, he said, it seems to be working — perhaps a bit too well.
“I got out of the pool yesterday and started walking and forgot about the rope and it kind of caught me around the throat, and I kind of bounced back a step,” Louise Wickenheiser said with a laugh. “It’s just so ridiculous.”
While this is the first time a moose has appeared poolside, it is not the first encounter Kurt Wickenheiser has had with one of the large critters.
Three years ago he became a victim of his own outdoorsman success when, after attempting a moose call on a massive bull he’d spotted near his home, the bull moose chased Wickenheiser back to his house.
The Wickenheisers have not yet seen the pool moose in action but are considering placing a game trail camera pointed at the pool in their yard.
Wickenheiser does not harbor ill will toward moose in general, but this is one moose that has worn out its welcome.
“I’ve told my friends that hunt if they see a moose this fall with a rubber duckie pool floatie stuck in his antlers, shoot that bastard.”