Photographed right after he charged a local fisherman, this moose—a massive herbivore capable of running 35 mph—proceeded to chow down. Taylor AlastraAfter fleeing to safety, angler Taylor Alastra shot a cellphone video of the bull moose that bluff charged him. This image of the moose crossing the river is a screen grab from that video. The same charge-prone bull moose, photographed from a safe distance using a zoom lens. You can see two nubs on each side of the moose’s head where his antlers or paddles were attached before being shed.

Is this moose smiling?

Local bull dines on brush after charging angler
“So I'm fishing the left side of the bank and I went to cast and all I heard was a bunch of footsteps.” —Taylor Alastra speaks about his moose encounter

Thursday, April 12 started out as an exceptional day of fishing for Taylor Alastra. He tied on a girdle bug and waded across the Gallatin to the east bank between where Spring Creek and Dudley Creek enter the river. 

     “I probably caught 15 fish on the same girdle bug,” recalled Alastra, who was on a day off and just a couple shifts away from wrapping up the season as a tram operator at Big Sky Resort. “I was nymphing most of the day. I did throw a streamer at the end of the day. Nothing hit the streamer. It’s just a little too cold still.” 

     Alastra frequently fishes this popular stretch of the Gallatin and even with no luck on the streamer, he lost count of how many fish he pulled in with a girdle bug, also known as a rubber legs. The action was so consistent, Alastra initially didn’t notice he was being watched. 

     “So I’m fishing the left side of the bank and I went to cast and all I heard was a bunch of footsteps,” said Alastra. “And I looked behind me and all I saw was brown and I immediately thought grizzly bear. But it was a moose and he bluff charged me. And as I see that, I just immediately ran across the river. I can’t believe I didn’t fall in. But I crossed. He stopped at the bank and watched me cross. And then he just took his time and he crossed.”

     Interviewed in a highway pullout just minutes later, Alastra recalled the incident further, “I was definitely sprinting across the river. My sleeves are a little wet. Did dip a hand or two in, but I honestly, that was the fastest I crossed the river ever. He didn’t chase me into the river. He definitely just wanted me away from him. My heart was pumping. We fish this spot all the time, but I’ve never seen a moose in here.”

     Alastra once spotted a cow moose and a calf crossing the Gallatin near Greek Creek—a common moose hangout—and he’s seen sign of moose near Spring Creek, just never a live one. 

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