The bull moose locked in death are given new life as rare displays.
There are only two known exhibits of antler-locked moose in the United States and Canada, and they are oddly found in the neighboring states of New Hampshire and Maine.
In a rare treat for sportsmen, the two taxidermy exhibits are on display together for the first time at the Fryeburg Fair in western Maine about an hour’s drive west of Portland.
Another quirky twist is that both mounts were restored by the same taxidermist, Mark Dufrensne of Natures Reflection Taxidermy in Gray, Maine.
New Hampshire’s exhibit is named “Forever Locked—The Story of the Battling Bull Moose of Fowlertown” and features two huge adult bulls likely locked in battle during a rut in the last days of September of 2003.
According to the website foreverlocked.org, the two were unable to separate and eventually succumbed to nature after a period of exhaustion, stress and no food or water.
An avid hunter named Ray Deragon of New London was scouting a secluded woods tract on October 9, 2003 in Gile State Park when he noticed the distinct scent of death and found the two carcasses.
Deragon contacted New Hampshire Fish and Game. A conservation officer was dispatched and surveyed the area, estimating the two were dead for about a week or two.
The officer took photos as the two realized the uniqueness of the find, eventually deciding to undertake a project to create a life-size exhibit featuring an estimated five-and-a-half-year-old, 1,100-pound bull with a 53-inch spread and a seven-and-a-half-year-old, 1,200-pound one with an outstanding 61-inch spread.
The $40,000 project was done in two years using moose skins from moose taken in New Hampshire and was created entirely with donated funds. It was designed to be mobile and travels to a variety of outdoor shows, state fairs, and other venues to support the mission of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.
A year after the New Hampshire display went public, Adella Johnson of New Sweden, Maine was walking on her property in May of 2006 when she found the remains of two bull moose. The moose died after their antlers became locked in battle during the previous fall’s rut. Adella then donated the antlers to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to be used for educational purposes.
The Maine moose spread is 55 and 63 inches, but their ages are unknown.
The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife contacted retail giant L.L.Bean with the idea of partnering to bring these moose back to life by recreating their battle and sharing interpretive and educational information about them with the general public in a display called “The Final Charge.”
L.L. Bean funded the exhibit, paying $55,000. Though the state owns the display, it made a deal with the state to house the exhibit for 20 years. The moose are generally found at L.L. Bean’s flagship store in Freeport.
The Fryeburg Fair runs through October 6, www.fryeburgfair.com.
Images by Marty Basch