There’s nothing that spices up a trip to the Maine woods more than a (safe) close encounter with wildlife. Over the Labor Day weekend, Edie Smith of Glenburn and her son, Ezra Damm of Brunswick, were among those who enjoyed just such an experience, as a cow moose swam across a pond for a visit.

Smith explained that she and Damm had headed to Camp Phoenix on Nesowadnehunk Lake, where her brother and his wife have had a cabin for decades.

Spotting a moose in that part of Maine isn’t that unusual, but the seemingly care-free attitude of this particular cow moose was surprising.

“She came to the pond three times while we were there,” Smith said. “The first time was Saturday morning. There were people around — almost all of the cabins were full because it was a holiday weekend. There was quite a bit of commotion and kids playing. I looked over and there’s a moose in the middle of the pond.”

Camp Phoenix — a group of cabins with a large main lodge building — isn’t in Baxter State Park, but in order to drive to it, visitors must travel through the park. Smith said the moose wasn’t swimming in Nesowadnehunk Lake, but was in the small, stream-fed “Kiddy Pond” on the grounds.

“[The moose] hung around for almost an hour. Everybody took videos and pictures of her,” Smith said. “She spent a lot of time feeding and going underwater.”

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Smith said the moose had a cloud of flies around her, which likely contributed to her seeking refuge in the pond.

“After about an hour she got out, but she stood in the woods. You could see her ears, actually, peeking out. Then she disappeared,” Smith said.

Later on Saturday, when Damm returned from climbing Katahdin, he noticed that the moose had come back, Smith said. And that’s when he captured an up-close video of the cow.

“He and I were sitting on that little dock and she basically came over to us. She was right there,” Smith said. “Again, people came out and gawked at her. She stayed around for about a half an hour.”

Smith said the moose got to within about five feet of the dock, but didn’t seem to care about the crowd that had gathered.

“If you listen, at one point in the video I say something like, ‘I’m nervous,’ or ‘Oh my gosh,’ and Ezra says, ‘No, she’s OK. She doesn’t care,'” Smith said. “I was getting nervous because I didn’t want to disturb her. But she had no fear. She didn’t care how many people came down to the edge to take pictures of her.”

A quick warning: Approaching wildlife, especially large animals like a moose, can be dangerous. Smith knew that, and said she and Damm were careful to avoid harassing the moose.

“I’d never seen anything like it. I’d never been that close to a moose except at the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray, looking at them through the screen,” Smith said. “We all kept saying, ‘What a thrill. What a joy. This is so special.'”

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John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. He spent 28 years working for the BDN, including 19 years as the paper's outdoors columnist or outdoors editor. While...