My good friend Daryl Hunter and I were in search of moose at the Gros Ventre campground .... which is well known for being moose territory because of the abundant willow trees nearby.
Daryl was about 50 feet away from me and we were walking slowly through the brush when I heard a rustle right next to me - and as I turned, this young bull moose poked his head out of the brush just a few feet away.
As I recall, here's what happened in rapid fashion:
The adrenalin kicks in - the one that says fight or flight that we are all programmed with from our caveman ancestors - and I make a quick decision to raise my camera and shoot as I back away. My 70-200mm lens is heavy and it has a teleconverter on it - so when I try to focus, I'm unable to do so. The bull has made eye contact with me and I can see his eyes locked onto mine.
Although it a pleasant morning, all of a sudden I feel sweat on my forehead and I notice that my hands are shaking. And then I hear another sound behind me and my peripheral vision sees a second bull moose to my left - exactly where I'm headed as I back away from the first guy.
Daryl sees me way too close to these moose and stage whispers "too close" as I start shooting. I stop moving and shoot away as I try to figure out how to get out of the situation without startling both of these guys - who even as youngsters weigh in at 800 to 1000 pounds.
I let out a deep breath and am able now to focus on the first guy...and I snap a couple of portrait shots like I would of a person in their backyard. But I'm in his backyard, and my adrenalin has just topped out with this unexpected set of events.
Luckily, the moose let me take a couple of shots without doing a charge....and his buddy let me walk by him within six feet without him reacting. But it is the first - and only - time that I had to back up to get a shot of a moose because I was too close!
What a moment - fear gushing through the veins at the same time the brain is trying to sort through why I'm also so happy while being so scared...
(Full Disclosure - don't try this on purpose. Moose are unpredictable - and park rangers fear a moose more than a grizzly)