Bloomingdale naturalist and guide Ed Kanze was hanging outside his home with one of his children this past July when he heard something that piqued his interest.
"I kept hearing a 'mmmnnnn' sound," Kanze recalled. "It was at the end of the day, and I was just tired, and my sleepy brain just thought it was a cow, a dairy cow. After a couple of more performances, it just didn't sound right."
Finally, it struck Kanze. That was a moose.
Moose-calling contests are new to the Adirondacks but have occurred for years in places such as Alaska and Canada. In this photo, Rodney Pangborn of Salcha, Alaska, demonstrates his long, moaning cow moose call on Aug. 13, 2008, outside his home. Pangborn was a two-time moose-calling winner at the time.
(AP photo — Eric Engman, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner)
If he was right, Kanze is one of the rare people in the Adirondacks who has the opportunity to hear the large mammal in the wild.
But the fact that hearing moose calls is rare hasn't stopped the town of Indian Lake from hosting its own moose-calling contest on Saturday as part of the Great Adirondack Moose Festival, a two-day event that celebrates the iconic animal with guided trips, exhibits and numerous other activities.
The nature-loving Kanze is one of the judges for the contest.
This is the second year of the moose-calling contest. Kanze, also a judge last year, said the event mainly draws people still learning how to make moose calls. He recalled only one contestant who was really able to nail the sound.
To study up for the contest, Kanze said he went onto the Internet and searched for moose-calling videos.
"There's tons of moose on there, so if one wants to bone up, you can go to YouTube," Kanze said.
Nevertheless, it's perfectly OK to be a novice moose caller in this contest. It's obviously just a fun event that is supposed to draw laughs.
"One kid was totally over the top, making these weird sounds," Kanze said. "I'm not sure they sounded like a moose, but anyhow he poured so much heart into it that the audience went wild for this kid. We gave him first prize."
Indian Lake is hosting the festival because moose have been seen there with increasing frequency in recent years. The Moose River Plains, in particular, has been a hot spot for viewing the animals. People have been visiting ponds - such as Helldiver Pond - in the early morning and late evening hours just to look for moose.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation estimates there are between 600 and 1,000 moose in the Adirondacks, although no scientific study has been done to verify those numbers.
For those who do attempt to a view a moose this weekend, it is advisable to keep a safe distance from the animal. Fall is the annual mating time for moose, and bulls are known to be more aggressive at this time of the year.
For those interested in participating or watching the moose calling contest, it takes place from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Indian Lake Theater on state Route 28 in Indian Lake. Participants in both the adult and children's categories are asked to pre-register by calling 518-648-5636 or 518-648-5112.
For a full schedule of events at the Great Adirondack Moose Festival, visit www.indian-lake.com.
Contact Mike Lynch at 518-891-2600 ext. 28 or firstname.lastname@example.org.