Notch Watches A Bush

If you’ve ever spent any time with a moose you may have noticed that they have the average I.Q. of an avocado. That’s not to say that they can’t carry on a conversation or do simple sums it means that as far as being an ungulates’ version of a genius is concerned they rank right up there with a two slice toaster.

Notch here is a prime example of moose intellect. His name was given to him by Mrs. Mom after a pack of coyotes tried to drag the young, not yet named Notch, into the bushes to have lunch with them. Notch was reluctant so they tried to convince him by leading him off by his right ear. By the time Mom got into it and reduced the pack by two and bent up the other three, Notch had the shredded ear that would be a constant reminder never to trust a bush again.

Now even though he stands nearly 7′ tall at the shoulder and weighs about the same as a Mazda Miata he still can not let a bush get by without giving it a thorough going over. Moose are slow to give up a tested theory, which in Notch’s case means “all bushes bad until proven otherwise” which is his first and guiding precept.

Why didn’t he learn through the years that bushes in general are harmless enough if unprovoked and go about his life? The only answer we can come up with and we must state at this point this is an untested theory, is the fact that those enormous, but giant antlers grow at an alarming rate and they possibly grow inward as well as outward. We know this seems unlikely but to date we have not seen hard evidence to contradict this possibility. This of course would cause a deflection of the brain pan and a pressing on the frontal lobe of his brain, compressing it and reducing it if not mashing it flat, which would interfere with some cognizant behavior. Which would cause the average observer to conclude that Notch was as dumb as a box of rocks.

Recently on a moose observation workshop and image making field trip we found Notch and to our surprise found him at hard at work staring at this bush. We came and went from this bush laden area several times during the day and found Notch still steadily at work assessing this bush. We saw that he had his work cut out for him as the entire meadow of many, many acres was entirely covered by bushes and this was the first one he had approached.

We are bringing you this news in case you are a frustrated moose watcher or photographer. One who, try as you might just can’t find a moose, developly challenged or not, to observe. Head on up to Long Draw on the way to Cameron pass and you should be able to spot Notch still at his task. I wouldn’t break any speed limits getting here. There’s lots of bushes left.

Sunset On The Snake

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As we edge on into Fall the rut is starting to gain momentum. All of the large ungulates are undergoing the changes that are needed to compete in the test of supremacy about to start. The elk have already begun their contests and the Mulies are about 7-8 weeks away from early November when they start. Moose are about a month away from their main rut but like everything else in life there are exceptions.

This scene along the Snake river shows a cow moose who is already interested but the bull, which has his back turned to her, is not quite into the season yet. He would probably be a little more so if another bull showed up, but for now he’s saving his energy. The location of this shot is just a short ways down from the Oxbow and its late afternoon in mid-September as the sun goes down.

Up in this part of the country, Grand Teton National Park in Northwestern Wyoming, the colors are in full display. It’s down jacket weather and time has slowed down somewhat. Soon the air will be filled with the bugling of the Elk and the bark or bugle of the Moose as Nature puts on one of her incredible displays of life in the Animal Kingdom.

Shuffles Lipinski


A conversation with Shuffles. Last weekend while on an ill-fated whirlwind trip to Yellowstone National Park to photograph some Peregrine Falcon chicks that were due to hatch and be photogenic, the visit sadly ended in frustration due to an unknown event that resulted in the parents abandoning the nest and the eggs within. We haven’t discovered what the event was yet but it resulted in one lone egg being left exposed in the nest. Since this changed our plans we decided to look up an old friend. We had a few moments to talk with Shuffles Lipinski a local resident of Grand Teton National Park.

If you enter Yellowstone from the south you have  to go through Grand Teton National Park to get there. Sometimes the Grand Tetons seems like the cross-eyed step child of Yellowstone, as it feels kind of like a door mat as tourists rush through to get to its older sister up north. It’s not though. They have plenty to offer in the way of scenery, such as big mountains that resemble a woman’s bosoms, and wildlife galore. There are Moose and Mulies, Elk and Canada Geese, Pelicans and bears. Plenty of bears. Like our friend pictured above. This is Shuffles Lipinski, a cinnamon colored black bear that can be seen on any given day hanging around where tourists can see him. Even though we were in a terrible hurry at the time to get up into Yellowstone to check the Peregrine nest we took a few moments to have a conversation with Shuffles. Here is an excerpt from that interview.

So Shuffles, Whatcha doing?

Just a runnin’ and a grinnin’.

What for?

I need to get up there where that tour bus is unloading them tourists.

We didn’t think you liked tourists.

I don’t. Hate ’em actually. But if I get up there and run around some and grin at them I’ll get points.

What do you mean you’ll get points?

Points. You get enough points and you get transferred up North. Get to play in the big show. Make a name for yourself. Get chicks. Free drinks at the club. Maybe a piece of the T-shirt business.

Really. Do all the bears want to do this ? Maybe that’s why we never see as many bears down here as we do up in Yellowstone.

Yup. You also get a number up there. Down here they still call you by your name. Up there if you’re cool you get a number. I want a number.

Note to readers: Yellowstone National Park is very proud, perhaps overly so, that they depersonalize their animals by giving them a number instead of a name, like Peaches, or “Kor, god of the fang”. That way they think people will get less attached to them, and not care when they get killed or worse, have to wear those tracking collars all the time. For instance if you ask a ranger or one of the bear guards they assign to each bear something like “Hey where’s Rosie? I haven’t seen her and the cubs lately.” they will give you a disgusted look and sternly but condescendingly, tell you “We don’t name our animals here in Yellowstone National Park, bear # 509 will be out shortly. You can wait over there behind that white line.” (‘you dumbass visitor’, being understood. We’re watching you now. Don’t make me talk to you again.) Returning to the interview.

So what’s wrong with your name? We like Shuffles, makes you more human and lovable, approachable even.

Yeah right. You approach me, I bite you. I get sent to the big house and get a tag stuck in my ear and then one in my other ear when I bite you again, and then its lights out bwana on the third time. You get the big sleep. No, I want the number. You get a number like 812 or something and people don’t know what to expect. You could be dangerous, you could be a stone cold killer just waiting for some bus rider to get close enough to take a selfie, people don’t know. You have a name like Horace or Shuffles, you don’t get the respect. Gotta have the respect, that ‘s what brings in the big bucks from people wanting to see the ‘bad’ bear. That’s what ups the T-shirt revenue, know what I mean?

Ok, got it. Listen we got to run. Got Peregrines and their chicks to shoot. Been a slice. Catch you later Shuffles.

Cool dude, listen, do me one, when you get up North tell the bear guys I growled at you and looked threatening. I gotta get out of here. I’m dying down here. Don’t tell ’em I bit anybody or anything just that I looked bad. Ok? Later brother. I owe you one.



Saturday Night

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Here it is another Saturday night and he’s stuck on the river bank looking for love. How many more lonely weekend nights will he have to spend before he finds his soul mate. All he wants is a nice quiet dinner, maybe a salad and some twigs and a little branch water down at the Sand Bar. Maybe a little dancing while the moon glances off the Snake River and the gentle fall breeze rustles the golden leaves in the quakey grove. That’s not too much to ask.

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Joie de Vivre

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Oh those French moose, they know how to live. Here its Monday morning and so many of us get up, wander around, act like a bear with a sore derriere and generally miss out on arguably the best part of the day. When I was younger, back around the time they were still using sticks to wage war, I was one of those who thought that if God had wanted you to get up early you would do it naturally. Now however, that I have ‘geezed out’, I find that I do get up naturally. And what’s more I like it. Heretical thinking for the under thirty set, but now fitting and right for this age.
This young lady moose is certainly under thirty and you can’t help but see the natural joy she has in greeting the morning by catching those first warming rays of the sun. Which leads me to believe she is French, that and the accent, of course. It’s spring on the Snake river in Wyoming, a carefree time for most and a time to make the most of life that you can. So wake up, get out there, stick your muzzle into the morning sun and live. Life is too short to walk around scratching your hiney, waiting for the coffee to get done.

Spring Song


It is not a very well-known animal fact that moose babies like to serenade their mothers whenever they can. According to Dr. Frieda Houf, our resident Mammologist and young moose specialist here at the World Headquarters of our Media Empire, young moose may have a more sinister motive to their singing than first imagined. It is her theory that the real purpose behind moose singing is a desire to drive their mother’s to a point where they don’t know if they’ve been snake bit or struck by lightning. When asked what benefit this would be to the youngster Dr. Houf replied, referring to her doctorial thesis, “My Moose, My Life, and the Power of Sensible Shoes”, The youngster, obviously hungry due to not eating for the last three minutes, must affect his mother’s behavior to get her on her feet so he may nurse. Singing to her in a voice that closely resembles that of a strangled cat, will often cause the mother to leap to her feet regardless of how tired she is and allow the young crooner access to breakfast. Dr. Houf then referred us to the chapter in her thesis, ‘Life isn’t fair and it’s often unkind” where she explains this theory in greater depth. Unfortunately we have been using Dr. Houf’s book to hold up the corner of the garage here at the World Headquarters of our Media Empire compound I mean campus so we can not verify the accuracy of her information at this time. However as we have never actually caught her in an outright lie, we have to assume that there is a kernel of truth in what she is saying. What we do know with absolute certainly however is that this young moose family spent a sunny day in the willow thickets in the Indian creek drainage just past the obsidian cliffs here in Yellowstone National Park with Mom alternately resting and jumping to her feet when ever feeding time rolled around. Fortunately for the young singer Mom has infinite patience.