A bull moose browses foliage at Helldiver Pond in Moose River Plains. Maps of the area will be available at the local Chamber of Commerce during the Great Adirondack Moose Festival, Sept. 24 and 25.
Barks, bellows and grunts. Moos and moans. With a range like that, contestants at the town's first-ever moose-calling imitation competition have their work cut out for them.
Slated for Saturday, Sept. 24 from 2 to 4 p.m., the calling contest is the big new event at the Great Adirondack Moose Festival, said Brenda Valentine, one of the event organizers.
“It's a hoot,” she said.
It's actually more like a foghorn, said Ed Kanze, an author and nature guide who'll judge the competition.
The low ululations make the sound travel, especially helpful when the beasts navigate foggy autumn forests.
He's joked that the grand prize for the best moose mime will be enticing one of the animals out of the forest. Though it's silly to think it might happen, he said, it's not completely impossible.
Mating season for these massive mammals, which can reach 1,200 pounds and six feet at the shoulder, is ramping up along with the festival. Males are the loudest, said Kanze, and at their most creative when luring potential mates.
He's busy with homework studying the noises, and he doesn't think that the moose's calls are too low for human females to imitate.
“We'll make sure we have gender fairness in the event,” he said.
His criteria for judging will include accuracy, but spirit is important, too. The winner will be someone who takes the contest seriously enough to sound like a moose and is enthusiastic enough to make the proceedings enjoyable.
“I'd like this to be fun, I'd like there to be an element of comedy,” Kanze said.
The festival, in its second year, will run Sept 24 and 25, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m each day. Valentine said the first year set the bar high.
“We were overwhelmed with tourists coming into the area to possibly see a moose,” she said.
They did have at least one moose sighting last year, said Valentine, and they ask people to log sightings with the organizers.
The event is put on by the Indian Lake Chamber of Commerce, with the goal of raising funds for the organization and bringing people in to the town.
The moose is a charismatic animal, said Kanze. Everybody loves the moose, wants to learn about it, wants to see it, he said.
Kanze said Indian Lake is a great destination. Though he's traveled the world, Indian Lake ranks highly as a favorite spot.
He grew up downstate in Westchester County, but he's descended from early Hamilton County settlers.
As a child, he spent a week every year around Indian Lake, and the area holds fond boyhood memories for him. He said he's honored to be invited to judge the competition, and being part of the town's festivities is meaningful and joyful.
Though the state Department of Environmental Conservation puts the moose population at 300 to 500 animals, they're spread around the six million acres of wilderness in the park. Kanze said Indian Lake and its 50,000-acre Moose River Plains are a hot spot, however.
The comeback of the animals to the Adirondacks shows how the park today is wilder than it was a hundred years ago, said Kanze.
The festival will also offer guided tours, fly-fishing demonstrations, an Adirondack Quilt Show and Sale, Backcountry Safety Program with wilderness tips, an Old-Fashioned Turkey Shoot, a Moose Scavenger Hunt, sidewalk sales, Logging in the Adirondacks with competitions and chainsaw carving demonstrations, Moosterpiece children's games and activities, and other events and attractions.
Those interested can find festival information or pre-register for the moose-calling contest by visiting www.indian-lake.com, calling 518-648-5636 or browsing to Facebook at Great Adirondack Moose Festival.