A bull moose known for his enormous stature has sadly died following a battle with another larger bull.
Two hikers came upon the dead animal while hiking in Alaska’s Chugach State Park on Sept. 20. As they were making their way through a densely forested area, they spotted him lying under the larger moose that had also died.
Both of the hikers knew that two fresh kills would draw bears quickly, and if one arrived, it would likely become aggressive. So they decided to turn around. But before they did, one of them snapped a couple of pictures to post on social media.
“My instinct was to get the hell out of there, but my friend wanted to take a couple of photos,” one hiker told Outdoor Life.
Fortunately, the hikers got away before any angry predators noticed the easy meal. And when they posted the gruesome snapshots online, they quickly found their way to Rick and Libby Libbey, a couple who owns MooseMan Nature Photos in New Hampshire. And they instantly recognized the smaller bull moose as one of their favorite subjects that they affectionately named “Grumpy.”
The Famous Bull Moose Died in a Draw
The Libbeys take a trip to Alaska each August to track and photograph moose through September. And as they told the publication, they met Grumpy in 2017. He had appeared in a valley one day, angry and violent, and confronted the couple. His first impression earned him his nickname. But the Libbeys said they never saw him act aggressively towards anything or anyone other than another bull from that day forward.
Though they were fairly confident that the animal was Grumpy by looking at his antlers, they needed to be certain. So they hiked out to the kill site for a closer look.
“It was freaky. The woods were dense. We had no vision, or space to make a decision,” said Rick.
During the interview with Outdoor Life, the Libbeys shared that Grumpy had been so charming and awe-inspiring that they took a special trip to Chugach State Park just to capture his life on film. The moose had been the king of the park for years, and he held a large harem.
During that trip, a younger bull gored Grumpy and sent him running. But within a matter of hours, he returned and reclaimed his cows. He had been seemingly unbeatable. And Libbey fondly remembered that he was curious about her as well. One morning, she woke up at her campsite, and Grumpy was standing directly over her, figuring her out.
When the Libbeys found the dead bull moose in the forest, they confirmed it was Grumpy. They suspect that the animals’ antlers had become entangled during their fight. While that’s uncommon, it leaves the moose unable to eat or drink. But they assume that Grumpy didn’t suffer long. He had been crushed under the weight of the larger moose.
Rick noted that all bull moose eventually age out, and Grumpy had been showing signs of weakness since the 2020 hike. But he was sentimental thinking that Grumpy died in an epic fight with a bull that was much larger and younger. And in the end, no other animal was able to defeat him and take his harem.