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First moose-calling contest gets laughs

TOP MOOSER - Delaware kid Mickey McKinney is the first-ever champ of Indian Lake’s Moose Calling Contest. Awarded following the competition in the Indian Lake Theater Sept. 24, judge and author Ed Kanze noted that McKinney reached the highest volume of the contestants.

TOP MOOSER - Delaware kid Mickey McKinney is the first-ever champ of Indian Lake’s Moose Calling Contest. Awarded following the competition in the Indian Lake Theater Sept. 24, judge and author Ed Kanze noted that McKinney reached the highest volume of the contestants. Photo by John Grybos.

— The still-elusive Adirondack moose did not put in an appearance at the Indian Lake Theater Sept. 24, but some convincing imitations were made to lure one in by contestants who honked, grunted and hollered their way through the town's first moose-calling contest.

Though the estimated 800 to 1,000 moose in the Adirondack park are rarely spotted, Moose Festival attendees were enthusiastic, with kid contestants especially getting into the act.

“Why do Moose call?” asked author Ed Kanze, who hosted and judged the contest. “They're much more vocal than deer are.”

Moose in distress might roar, and sometimes will roar at cars. A bull moose seeking a lady friend might imitate a calf's calls.

One of the odder moose sounds reminds Kanze of the squeal his Toyota's door makes, or the sound of Dracula's coffin opening in old horror movies.

Imitation aids were made when moose roamed the region in larger numbers in the 1800s. The low-tech moose calls of the 19th century were basically birch bark megaphones, said Kanze. He brought a mock-up that he dubbed his “semi-authentic Adirondack moose-calling device” as a speaking aid. The device was used by Mickey McKinney to win the kids' category.

“He certainly achieved the highest volume,” said Kanze of the Delaware wunderkind.

Jim Orndorff took the grown-ups' top prize, a plaque with a moose figure, with his own call device, a bit more sophisticated than the one brought by Kanze.

Much of the interest in moose, said Kanze, comes from the beasts' incredible size.

Warming up the stage for the competitors, Kanze said the top of his hat would meet the shoulder of a full-grown moose, and for an exceptional specimen he'd have to do a tip-toe stretch to scratch its brow.

The region once boasted huge, hairy elephants and giant sloths. Most of those oversized creatures have gone extinct, “But one of those giant, Ice Age (like) animals is still alive,” said Kanze.

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