Cabin Life: Living Among Wildlife

“Go get your camera, we have a big moose in the yard!” A phrase that was yelled through our house multiple times per week during the fall… and it never got old. I thought seeing the occasional deer, or elk, from two football fields away was an incredible sight. But after moving up into the mountains, viewing wildlife has taken on an entirely new meaning. We don’t just see animals anymore, we are living among them!

Three Mule Deer in our front yard

It didn’t take long after moving into the cabin to get our first taste of wildlife. At first, it was just the casual deer rolling through the yard in the evening. I completely expected that once they saw us, or heard our dog barking at them. But they never cared, and that is when we began to realize that this mountain community is more of a wildlife sanctuary than just a place they live. Every morning on my run or bike ride with the dog, we’d always see a moose strolling around the neighborhood, but we tried to keep our distance. A week later, the moose started to come hang out in our yard. And that’s when things started to get exciting for us. 

One of the resident Moose having a snack

First one, then two, then three different moose regularly hang out every day. They were munching on the oak trees we have scattered throughout the property. With not a care in the world, during the last days of summer, the moose with their racks in full velvet were regular fixtures each week. They never seemed to care about us taking their photos. Through the fall, we watched their antlers come out and their behaviors change, but they never minded us taking photos of them from our deck. Once, and only once, we were able to capture two moose playfully fighting by locking antlers with each other.

A Bachelor Group of Trophy Elk in a neighbor’s yard

I’ll be honest, even though we love camping in the most remote places in the west, we were not prepared for how dark the night would be in the cabin. I say this because it added a layer of unknown in our yard every night when I’d let the dog outside, wondering what was out there. Every day, we’d see some kind of animal in the yard, and I always worried that there’d be something still laying out in the yard when the dog went out to do his business. Fortunately, the only run-in we’ve had so far at night was just a big hare that was running through the yard at the same time we were out there. We couldn’t see it, but heard it stomping around and that was enough noise to give the dog and I both a scare.

Porcupine on his midnight stroll down the road

Beyond our yard, driving and running around the neighborhood, we perpetually see animals moving about. It’s almost a guarantee we will see deer roaming around in the morning and evening. Multiple times I’ve run into a porcupine on the road in the early mornings, which are a big worry of ours if our dog gets near one. And of course, the elk. Every morning, during the late summer, I could hear them bugling on the opposite mountain community from ours. All morning long, they scream away with their mating calls. And it’s always a treat when a heard of elk cross the road causing a traffic jam on my way into work. Lucky for us, we still haven’t seen any mountain lions or bears in the area, but our neighbors trail cameras have caught a few here and there (which is how I like to see them). 

Living with the charismatic mega-fauna, as Steve Rinella says, is a wonderful experience. Every morning we’re in for something new. You never know what you’ll see or run into, and that is unbelievably exciting to us!

We called this moose, Horton.

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