Beth Petrie, of Indian Lake, attempts to call a moose while Ed Kanze holds the microphone during the Great Adirondack Moose Festival moose-calling contest Saturday, Sept. 22 at the Indian Lake Theater.
About 800 adult moose are living in the Adirondacks, and the number grows every year, according to state Department of Environmental Conservation wildlife biologists.
That means more human contact with the world’s largest member of the deer family. Sightings of moose are on the rise, and one town hopes it will bring in more tourism. This past weekend, Indian Lake held its annual Great Adirondack Moose Festival with a number of family activities, including a moose-calling contest on Sept. 22.
On Saturday, a moose was spotted in the Ausable River in Wilmington. A North Creek woman saw one that morning on her lawn. And another woman found moose tracks on the dirt road in the Moose River Plains.
At the Indian Lake Chamber of Commerce, nobody had reported seeing a real live moose in town during Day 1 of the Great Adirondack Moose Festival, except Bloomingdale resident Debbie Kanze.
“I’ve seen cardboard moose. I’ve seen sticker moose. I’ve seen moose chocolate lollipops. I’ve seen moose on balloons, but I haven’t seen a real, live snorting moose,” said Debbie Kanze.
She was hoping to see one that day, or even hear one.
“Oh, absolutely. I think I will hear some later at the moose-calling contest,” Kanze said.
She said the moose calling may even drive moose into town.
“Well, you never know, and Ed, my husband who’s doing the contest has always said if someone gets a moose to enter the theater, they win,” Kanze said.
Two brothers waited eagerly to call a moose into the Indian Lake Theater. Ten-year-old Andy Quodomine, of Clifton Park, had practiced all week. Eleven-year-old Cullen Rose, of Inlet, had practiced for a month. As people sat down, Andy scoped out the competition.
“I’m really excited to be in this match, and I see the competition’s getting kind of rough with my brother an all,” Andy said.
The boys said there is a lot of competition between them.
“We can’t go about five minutes without bickering over something,” Cullen said.
“It’s true, very true,” Andy added.
Fourteen kids and seven adults walked on stage, with Ed Kanze holding the microphone, trying to call in a moose. Many used their hands to amplify their call. Others used Ed’s homemade megaphone, made from white birch bark. The adults went first. Valerie Trudeau of Saranac Lake had never tried calling a moose before, but she walked away a second place winner.
Randy Karl, of Rotterdam, spread his hands above his head, like antlers, and stepped into the role of a moose and took third place.
Most of the adults didn’t want to get on stage. Don Cosden, of Maryland, was one of the shy ones, but he took first place, thanks to his wife.
“His wife made him do it,” Ed Kanze said as Cosden walked on stage.
Then it was time for the kids to call in a moose. Hands flew up from all corners of the Indian Lake Theater, including those two brothers, Andy and Cullen. But only one of them would win a prize.
Andy went first and then Cullen.
“Are you going to use the moose caller there? Can you grab it? Don’t fall off the stage; then you’d produce a different sound. Okay, here we go,” Ed Kanze said.
Andy’s call was brief but effective.
“Wow. That’s nicely done. Co Cullen, Cullen Rose. Okay Cullen,” Ed Kanze said.
“I’m going to do an angry moose,” Cullen said.
“Cullen’s going to do an angry moose,” Ed Kanze announced.
“And I did a moose with a stomach ache,” Andy added.
“A moose with a stomach ache,” Ed Kanze replied. “We know what they eat now, 35 to 60 pounds of roughage every day. I’d have a stomach ache, too. Okay, here we go Cullen.”
Cullen’s moose call did sound angry, and the audience loved it.
“Ooh, nicely done,” Ed Kanze said.
Third place went to Natalie Puterko of Indian Lake.
“Ah, good,” Ed Kanze said after her call. “Sounded just like a moose calf that had just eaten three or four pounds of striped maple and that’s something to say,” said Ed Kanze.
Then a boy only a couple feet high, known only as Grady, won the hearts of the audience and took home second place.
When it came time to announce the first-place winner, everyone, even the guy in the moose costume, waited on the edge of their seats. And with 14 kids, it was a tough choice.
“But the first prize by a claim of all the judges goes to Cullen Rose,” Ed Kanze said before reacting to Cullen’s excitedness. “All right Cullen. Cullen can’t wait to get his hands on the trophy here. He’s practically in tears. He hasn’t won first prize in anything ever. I think this is the beginning of something.”
“I’ve never won first place for anything in my life,” Cullen said as he left the stage with his brother in tow.
“I’d just like to congratulate my very good brother of moose calling for being the winner,” Andy said.
Cullen Rose walked away with the biggest smile of his life, and he’s making plans to come back next year, to defend his title at the Great Adirondack Moose Festival.