Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"Trouble at Gros Ventre" 5x7 acrylic on board

During a visit to Wyoming last September, I had one of those moments that never happen in the forests of western Pennsylvania. It started out innocent enough. The Gros Ventre River (pronounced "grow vont") was quite low and I was working my way through the river rocks and willows looking for moose sign and just about anything else that might make an interesting painting. About 100 yards away on the far side of the river, I spotted a cow moose feeding along and paying no attention to me. I was fairly well hidden in the willows, so I set my camera gear down and watched her for a bit with my binoculars. Actually, I was spending more time scanning the thicket behind her hoping to see the antlers of a large bull. No such luck. She was alone, so I snapped a few quick photos and settled in to watch her for a while.

It was at that point she spotted me hiding in the brush. I don't know how. I was dressed in camo, had a layer of thick willows in front of me, and stayed completely still... yet she looked right at me from 100 yards away... and headed right for me! She was only about 2 strides into the river when I realized I was in trouble. The willows all around me were too thick to run through, so I was stuck. The thought that kept going through my mind was about a statistic I'd heard on moose cows in Alaska killing more people every year than bears! And all I could do was stand there and take what fate had in store... all the while shooting photos.

I remember being impressed with how easily she plowed through that deep swift water and how her hooves sounded as they pounded across the river rocks. At less than 15 feet, she stopped, stared at me for a few seconds, then started to feed on the willows I was hiding in!

With my heart pounding in my throat, another thought slipped forward in my mind... my art would probably get into more galleries if I got trampled to death by an angry moose. HA!

Finally, she wandered away leaving me to ponder what had just happened. In the Rocky Mountain West, things can go from safe to serious in a hurry!
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Anonymous said...

Wow! What an adventure you had. I probably would have hyperventilated and passed out from fear. Good to know she walked on so you could tell of your adventure and make a great painting.

Jim Bortz said...

Thanks, Trish. I knew I would eventually paint this scene... plus it gives me a great excuse to tell the story :)