GREENVILLE – Call it the Greenville guarantee.
Or maybe the Moosehead Lake money shot.
Four hours was the window of opportunity and Bob Hamer delivered.
The Greenville resident and former Moosehead Lake Region Chamber of Commerce director had just four hours to show the most recent moose fan in Greenville a live moose in the wild.
Hamer claims that this time of year, the birthing season for the cow moose, is the best to see moose all around town.
And doesn’t that coincide nicely with the state’s annual moose lottery, which will be held June 15 in Greenville?
So it made sense to this moose fan to see if visitors to the region — who could number more than 4,000 in a weekend, as they did for last year’s moose permit lottery in Oquossoc — would be able to go on a short, simple scenic ride … and see moose.
Well after a six-hour round-trip drive to Greenville to find out: Count on it.
Hamer took this moose fan to five different locations, and in just under four hours I saw four moose. Not to mention one in the first 40 minutes.
Not to mention Thursday, the day of our casual moose safari, was less than ideal.
“Of course, it’s one of the hottest days of the year!” Hamer boomed as we drove out of town.
But he wasn’t worried.
Hamer then launched into several moose stories, like the moose that often wander across his front lawn off Route 15 in Greenville.
“I have 87 acres, you’d think they’d be out somewhere in the woods. But they prefer to walk across the lawn beside our deck,” Hamer said with a shrug.
It’s easy to believe, considering how quickly Moose No. 1 came upon us.
In 38 minutes of driving north, between Greenville and Jackman, we saw it along Route 15 on the Brassau Lake Road.
“This time of year when the cows are birthing, the yearlings get kicked out. It’s kind of sad. Their world just got turned upside down. That was probably one we saw,” Hamer mused.
With a good two hours left and our mission successful, we decided not to stop. The moose tour continued to four more moose haunts on the east side of Moosehead Lake, a wild land and working forest so rich in wildlife that locals are used to moose there.
“The locals are kind of blase about it,” Hamer shrugged.
He continued with moose story after big-dumb-mammal story, pointing out every creek, inlet and bog known to draw in moose during the buggie season, which is right about now; or during the heat of the summer, when moose look to cool down.
A photo hobbyist, fisherman and avid outdoorsman, Hamer has tracked moose for visitors and visiting photographers before.
“There was one man who came from Japan — Japan! All he wanted was to get a photo of a moose. Then he didn’t want to pay $150 for a personal guided tour to find one!” Hamer said of some of the half-dozen moose safari guides found on the Chamber of Commerce website.
And then, after two more hours of fruitless searching, just as the moose tour seemed to end, Hamer dropped me at my car in Greenville and said with promise:
“I’ll follow you to the DOT.”
The DOT would be the transportation garage just south of town … where salt is kept.
And moose, as any good Mainer knows, love salt.
There just south of Greenville four cars were lined up on the side of the road.
I wondered if someone had hit a moose, and considered what a coincidence that would be,since I had come to this wild land to see moose.
But the reality was stranger still.
These people had come to park at dusk, to wait for moose.
Call it the Greenville guarantee.
“There’s lots of salt here, lots of salt that has leached into that bog, so they come here to lick it. You won’t see a moose here for more than 10 minutes. But if you wait, eventually one will show up. Sometimes in the spring, I’ve seen as many as 25 cars here, right up alongside the road,” Hamer said.
And sure enough, as he explained the most high-profile moose-viewing spot, we watched two yearlings feed in the bog.
Which would have been a perfect finale, but then this is Greenville.
“You need to slow down,” Hamer cautioned during my moose lesson.
“Because they can be one foot into the woods and completely invisible. But if you slow down, you’ll spot them.”
And in less than four hours, Moose No. 4 was in just that spot, on the west side of Route 15 in Shirley.
As I turned to look at a big dark tree, there stood a big moose, feeding on a little tree, just out of the camera’s range. But close enough to add to the day’s tally.
Four moose in four hours … on the hottest day of the year.
Never underestimate a place called Moosehead Lake.
Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at: